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The idea of being a teacher of one kind or another is now a very old idea for me. Shortly after entering my seventh grade year in junior high school, I decided (at my musical mother’s urging) to start taking band as a subject. By the next year, I had decided to become a band director, a teacher of music. I never wavered from that decision once I made it, at least until the “preaching bug” bit me after I was married and started seeking God in a serious way. I recall taking the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey in the eighth grade and testing very high in music. (It’s odd that I remember the name of a test I took 60 years ago!) I already knew what my interests were, so the test results offered no surprises.

Becoming a band leader started long before I became a band director. I was selected to be the drum major of my junior high band for one year, drum major of my high school band for two years, and drum major of my college band for all four years. In the latter role, the band director didn’t like directing the band during football games, so I not only did that on the field at halftime, but also in the stands during the rest of the game. He may have hated that role, but I relished it. Thus, I was a teacher of sorts long before it became an official position for me.

I did indeed major in Music Education in college and began my career as a music teacher in the fall of 1965, as a newly married man. Soon thereafter, I enrolled in graduate school to pursue an advanced degree in educational administration. The exact name of my program was: “Supervision and Administration at the Secondary Level.” In other words, I was being educated to become a high school principal. I only finished half of that degree, since I decided to enter the ministry during that process. However, all of the education courses I took at both undergraduate and graduate levels gave me a good foundation of educational principles and processes, training that served me well in all future teaching endeavors. But ever since I was a young teen, education was my thing. I never wanted to do anything besides teach.

I first began preaching in 1970 while attending a ministry training school (the Preston Road School of Preaching in Dallas, Texas). The preaching when in school was on a part-time basis, but I had stuck my foot in the water and had found it very exciting and intriguing. I was still a teacher, but now the subject was Bible. My interest in music all but left me, for I felt as if I were in heaven while studying and teaching the Bible. Once I graduated from that two year ministry training program, I worked alongside an older, very skilled preacher in the Northwest and sharpened my preaching and teaching skills under his tutelage. (My book, My Three Lives contains many details of those and other years in my earlier ministry.)

When I did graduate from that particular school, the faculty told me during my senior conference that they envisioned me returning to teach there after I had gained some ministry experience. They said that it was obvious that I should be a teacher in a setting like that one. Preaching is teaching, but they were talking about a more in-depth training of other preachers. I was flattered by their vision for me, but assumed that this role was going to be at least a decade away. As it turned out, it was less than three years away. Honestly, I was a bit “green” for such a position, but with God’s help and the burning of much midnight oil, I managed to survive and hopefully did a reasonably good job.

Teaching in this program taught me far more than I conveyed to the students. The curriculum included every book in the Bible studied in quite some depth. Some courses grouped several biblical books together, like the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) or the Minor Prophets, but many were studied as single books. Each course had 54 hours of classroom instruction per semester. That meant that teaching a book like Revelation, with its 22 chapters, gave the instructors about 2 ½ hours per chapter to really dig into the text. Since we were teaching four courses each semester, the preparation was almost overwhelming, especially the first time we taught a given course. At any rate, teaching in such a challenging program gave me the background preparation for all Bible teaching that was to follow.

I taught in this program full-time for four years and part-time for another three. During those years, I completed a Master’s Degree in Bible – “New Testament Studies” being my specialty. When teaching part-time at Preston Road, I was a full-time minister for a local church. Since the church group I was in during that time had four meetings per week (two services on Sunday, a Sunday School slot, and a midweek service), I was preparing and delivering lessons most of the time. To say that teaching was my life would have been true in more than one way!

When we left Dallas and moved back to the Northwest, I was the new kid on the block and had a reputation as a Bible teacher. Plus, I had met the Campus Ministry Movement (the predecessor of what was to become the ICOC – International Churches of Christ) and was regularly invited to speak on their programs. During my four year tenure in Washington State, I counted up my teaching and preaching slots for one of those calendar years, and discovered that I had averaged delivering one sermon every other day (not counting Sunday School or midweek lessons). As I said, teaching was my life and evidently was destined to remain so for the remainder of it.

Once I joined our present movement of churches in 1985, the teaching slots diminished considerably. We had only one service on Sundays and midweeks were often done in small groups, with lessons that were more on the practical side than the exegetical side. Of course, there were leader meetings of various types, but the lessons for them were mostly practical and administrative in nature. At this point in my teaching career, I assumed that the more in-depth type of teaching to which I had been accustomed was pretty much over. Of course, there were the occasional seminar or conference lessons to be developed and taught, but they were occasional and involved more preaching than teaching (yes, there is a difference).

In the early 1990s, to my surprise and delight, I was to don my “professor’s hat” once again. In 1993, Randy McKean, the congregational evangelist for the Boston Church of Christ, asked me to put that hat on again. This new emphasis meant that I was given large chunks of time for writing and preparation for teaching. We began the New England School of Ministry, which involved teaching all of our ministry staff in New England a series of biblical courses in a classroom setting, complete with advance assignments and a final exam.

We quickly expanded that program to include the staff of churches in Europe that the Boston church established or oversaw. My trips to Europe were frequent, both for ministry training and for just strengthening young churches. In addition to the ministry training program, Randy introduced occasional all-day Saturday teaching sessions for the church, calling these sessions “Bible Jubilees.” The content for nearly all of these exciting teaching days came from materials I had just written – in-depth outlines in booklet form at first, and full length books beginning in 1995 (“Prepared to Answer” and “The Victory of Surrender” that year).

After sixteen years in Boston, we moved to Phoenix for nine. Once again, my teaching slots diminished as I was immersed in the ministry of a local church. However, as I approached my 65th year, my teaching focus expanded once more.   About the time I was nearing that ominous birthday, the elders were discussing the budget for the following year (2008). It was becoming increasingly obvious that the church in Phoenix wasn’t large enough to support me and Theresa in the role of teacher/elder and women’s ministry leader. The discussion moved in the direction of needing to lay off our Teen Ministry couple or our Campus Ministry couple in order to keep us on staff. As an elder at the time, I just couldn’t approve doing that. So I told the other elders that I was going to have to help them fire me and that I would find another means to provide for us financially. Starting a teaching ministry seemed the best way to do that, and I had already had discussions with others about that possibility.

Sometime during that period several had approached me about starting a training program in Asia, one that ended up as the Asia-Pacific Leadership Training Academy (APLA). God was opening doors for me to start a formal teaching ministry, which began officially in mid-2008. God soon opened another door. Shawn Wooten, evangelist in Kiev, asked me to set up a leadership program in Kiev patterned after APLA, a program to be named the Ukrainian Institute of Ministry. Both programs had a curriculum of eleven courses for the Ministry Track students (those on staff) and an eight course curriculum for the Shepherding Track students (lay leaders). In addition to teaching in these two programs, I continued to travel and speak in a number of other settings. As I often said, I lived in the “jet lag” time zone!

In November of 2012, we moved to the Los Angeles area and I assumed the role of Director of the Pacific School of Ministry in January of 2013 for a two year term. At the end of that assignment, we moved to Dallas, Texas where we now reside. By design, my traveling days have been reduced significantly. My teaching is focused on (but not limited to) a writing ministry. I wrote three book in 2016, bringing my total number of books to fifteen. Additionally, I have a number of audio and video teaching series that are available through my publisher, Illumination Publishers (IPI) – ipibooks.com. Perhaps I will write more books in the future, but writing three books in six months last year pretty much satisfied that “itch,” at least for the present.

Near the end of 2016, through an expected chain of events, God unleashed a new passion in me, one that led to the development of a new blog on racial issues, entitled Black Tax and White Benefits (blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com). As might be expected, a number of invitations to speak have been on this subject. I also am working on expanding my teaching in writing through this teaching website, gordonferguson.org. My prayer for this late stage of life (turning 75 in October!) is still the same as always, that God would use me in any way that he wants. Whatever that turns out to be, one would have to assume that it will be in some form of teaching. That has been my life for decades, and is still my life now. Romans 12:7 mentions a “gift” of teaching, and God has graciously given me this gift and kept it functioning for many years. I am most grateful, and pray that my use of the gift might glorify him and bless others!

— Gordon Ferguson (August 2017)

FACEBOOK FEED

Here is a quote from my recent article about male/female role relationships in the church: "Much discussion about the woman’s role is taking place in most church groups today who are identified as biblically conservative. That is certainly true of the ICOC group of churches, although most of the present discussion is taking place among the membership (especially the younger people) rather than among the leaders. Thankfully, some leaders and groups of leaders are delving into the subject. Several aspects of the discussion are much more important issues than most imagine."

My take in writing this was that young people were the main ones doing such thinking, accompanied by the feelings that were prompting them to talk among themselves about this subject. The feedback to my last two articles is starting to come in increasingly, and here are two excerpts from another source – parents of those young people. The first is from a mother and the second from a father.

"Raising two girls in the Church has made me question this point many times. I, myself, have been challenged (and hurt) by a church leader telling me that I could not complete an action asked of me by another church leader strictly because of my chromosomes. I have been praying for just such a re-evaluation. Your article gives me hope."

"I was recently forwarded your excellent article on Male/Female Role relationships. This is a topic that has been regularly on my mind in the last couple of years. It's been an issue for me since my very young Christian days but is particularly amplified as my daughter, soon to be 21, has come into her young-adult years. I just can't ignore what I was able to set aside. I agree with your statement that the conversation on this topic IS actively taking place in the membership -- not only the younger 20-somethings, but also their parents. For me, it has reached a point of needing to act."

This one ain’t going away, folks, and we need to address it sooner than later. If you have not read my recent article, “Male-Female Role Relationships in the Church” on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org), please do so. If you would like an electronic Word doc format of it, just email me at gordonferguson33@gmail.com and I will send it to you. Thanks much and God bless!
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1 month ago  ·  

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As noted in my post on Facebook recently about my new article regarding male and female role relationships in the church, the article grew out of a midweek outline for a lesson I had just taught. One sister who heard the lesson, Demerris Johnson, wrote me an email the next day that made my day! She has since read the much longer article I posted on my teaching website. Her heart-felt comments produced some special heart-felt emotions in me. She wrote about the racism and sexism she has experienced, of both overt and systemic types. More impressive was her description of how she has handled it all while fighting to maintain spirituality. She is an excellent writer and the contents of what she has written deserve a broader audience. I am posting it as a follow-up article on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org) and as a blog article on my blogsite (blacktaxandwhitebenefits.com). I am including a few excerpts from her vulnerable sharing to whet your appetite to read the rest of it. God’s blessings as you read!

Demerris

I've been a disciple of our Lord for 18 years now, and I've had countless struggles and an equal number of victories. I've endured extreme harshness and wrestled with my own value. I've dished out my own share of harshness and probably caused others to wrestle with their value. I lived in fear of "man" (or people) for many years, most likely due to my own upbringing and times of victimization, so there was a part of me who believed that this was the norm and just how I was treated. I thought I just needed to toughen up, but I just couldn't be that tough.

There are two things I really want to address in this email: One, I am a black woman who has often felt inferior or has been made to feel so in a white male dominated society, and at times felt unloved and unappreciated by my black brothers and hated by my black sisters, culturally speaking. Though I don't directly experience much of this anymore, I know that it's something my culture suffers, and from time to time, generations of oppression slip through the creases of today's fabric and it all comes flooding back as if I had been living in the 60's or sooner when racial tensions were high.

Two, I'm also a woman who has fought for her relationship with God, and I've sought understanding of some biblical concepts like the roles of men and women. Recently, I learned prior to your lesson on relationships and roles that the same word for helper in Genesis 2:18 was used to describe the Holy Spirit, and I was floored. Hearing you teach it just doubled the impact! I was soooo encouraged because I knew that God is just so much bigger than we are, and we can't begin to comprehend his heart and mind. See, God has slowly been moving inside of my heart, allowing me to grow through difficult times. He has been healing my heart; I've found my voice, and I’ve won over many people, disciples and non-Christians alike. I've gained the respect and trust of many men and women in God's kingdom (and apart from it), and I've been honored in many ways by no doing of my own. He has placed me in roles where I've been teaching men and women, but I don't deem that to be exercising authority over them. I've wrestled in my heart with this concept and tried to wrap my mind around it.

Now go read the full article! Thanks!
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1 month ago  ·  

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After I wrote 3 books in early 2016, I felt somewhat in a vacuum afterwards because I didn’t have any other area to pursue about which I felt passionate. Through a series of events, I discovered one and that led me to start a blog on racial issues. While I don’t think we have much overt racism in our fellowship of churches, I do think that we have far more systemic racism in our midst then we are aware of. Recently another series of events led me to delve into a similar area, that of systemic sexism. I agreed to be a sounding board and adviser to one of my sisters in Christ who was researching the subject, which started the ball rolling for me. To be honest, I was a reluctant adviser at the outset, but in time I became motivated to do a lot of my own study of male/female role relationships in the church.

Then, the region evangelist in my home region of the Dallas church, Derik Vett, asked me to teach a special series of midweek lessons on topics that he felt we really needed. One of these was on relationships in the church, and after we talked about my new area of interest, he encouraged me to make that aspect of relationships a part of the lesson. I just taught it Wednesday night. On the day before, I was finishing up my outline, which I write in some detail since we are sending them out via email after the lessons are taught. It occurred to me that such a detailed outline would be fairly easy to format into article form, which I did over the next few days.

You can find a copy of that article on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org) with the title, “Male-Female Role Relationships in the Church.” The segment in my oral presentation Wednesday night was not too long, although the outline provided was longer. The article is even longer by quite a bit. However, it is not an exhaustive study of the topic and certainly not intended to be the “last word” on it. But it is intended to prompt some reexamination of the subject, and I believe it will. A number of individuals and groups in our fellowship of churches are currently studying the topic with renewed interest because the need is pretty obvious to many. Some may not appreciate a deeper examination of our traditionally held positions and practices, but most will welcome it. With that as a backdrop, I invite you to read the article and encourage your friends to do the same. God bless!
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1 month ago  ·  

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During most of my 16 years in Boston, I was a Dallas Cowboys football fan. I later became a Patriots fan, of course. However, since I am back in Dallas and my son is still a diehard Cowboys fan (along with his wife – I converted their three boys when they were young!), I now say that the Cowboys are my NFC team and the Pats my AFC team (and my overall favorite team).

At any rate, one of my longtime Boston friends, Harold Barnes, recently sent me two very nice pieces of Cowboys memorabilia. One of them is the picture attached. Harold said that it reminded him of me. Can you figure out why? As a Boston church member and personal friend, Harold knew all about my sports affinities and my avid participation in the “Big Black Brothers’ Club.” You can read about that infamous club on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org) by looking for an article with that name. Those brothers are still very special to me and most of us do manage to keep in touch pretty well.

I very much appreciate Harold’s gifts and nice letter accompanying them, and I appreciate the special memories of my Boston days. Those memories include Harold and my BBB Club associates! There are good friends and old friends, but the best are good, old friends. Thanks for the memories!
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2 months ago  ·  

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After an exchange with Kelly Flores on this Father's Day, which she initiated, I thought of another spiritually adopted daughter from whom I received a note today. Michelle Garrett, who now resides in Colorado with John and her children, has been one of my "daughters" for well over ten years now. My story with Kelly is in an article on my teaching website (gordonferguson.org) and is entitled, "Another Kind of Adoption." I just posted a very similar one about me and Michelle, entitled "Another Adoption of Another Kind." Each of my spiritual daughters is unique as are our stories. Read them both and keep some Kleenex handy. Here is the note from Michelle that prompted the new article.

Happy Fathers Day!! For years of my discipleship, I wrestled with God as Father. With some professional help and a whole lot of God being patient the last couple of years, I've been able to settle into his wings and not just be okay but be proud that my dad is God Almighty. Throughout my years, even in my pre-disciple days, I see how God placed certain men in my life to father me, to show me more of Him. Some were for only seasons of life, and some will forever be near if I call. Thank you for taking your calling from God to be a Papa to many and yet make each of us fatherless girls feel closer to God. You and I are so similar in spirit, backgrounds and personalities that it makes me giggle at God. I love you, Happy Father's Day Papa! ️ Michelle
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2 months ago  ·  

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