What kind of persons do you work with? What are their basic needs?

Boomers and Millennials. They need encouragement to follow Christ in every season of life. They also need a ministry which aids in increasing their biblical literacy.

In what ways have your assumptions about the plight of humanity and what it means to be human being challenged through this work?

An assumption that I had coming into this ministry position was that age necessarily corresponds with spiritual maturity. I have found that the gospel has to do a new work in each person regardless of age.

In what way has your work informed your thinking about what it means to respect another person’s humanity? Give some specific examples.

The world propels this narrative that you are only valuable in so far as you are young and relevant. By working with our older saints, I have been encouraged to consider how God can use his people in every season of life, especially the later seasons—the autumn and winter of life. By working with our younger saints, I have been encouraged by helping them consider how to glorify God in their early (spring and summer) seasons of life.

What theological insights have been helpful in ministering to the people you minster to?

I have learned that God has work for all his children to do regardless of their age. Another is learning how to die as a Christian. Having ministered to many saints as they walk through their final days, I’ve come to see the necessity of a clearly articulated and modeled doctrine of the resurrection. 

Are there broader applications that go beyond the demographic or the group, the kind of person you work with that help you think more generally about being human in our day and age?

In my ministry context, I’ve worked with two demographic groups that seek to define themselves by what they do or don’t do. For the older saints, they are wrestling with not being able to serve in ways they have in the past. With the younger saints, they are wrestling with not being able to serve in all the ways they hope to in the future. For both of these groups, this creates a fundamental misunderstanding about what it means to be a human, namely, defining their value in so far as they are able to do things for God and others.

 What kind of character traits, virtues or approaches has your ministry helped you form? (patience, compassion, lack of judgment) How has your ministry shaped you as a person?

Patience, for sure. Doing life with my congregants over a longer period of time has helped earned their trust and has grown me into a better pastor. Discernment is another trait. Having discernment has helped me distinguish the difference between people who are not believers and believers who are simply tired from decades of service.

Nic Seaborn (M.Div. '14) is pastor of Raleigh Avenue Baptist Church, Birmingham. Ryan Kirkland (M.Div. '20) is pastoral intern of Raleigh Avenue Baptist Church, Birmingham.