Jeff Iorg Blog

Staying in the Bay Area

Mar 16 2015

            Last week, in an open letter to the community, the leaders of City Church, San Francisco recanted their biblical stand on homosexuality and agreed to welcome same-sex married couples as members.  This church has been a strong evangelical congregation in San Francisco, looked to by many as a model for convictional ministry in a challenging setting.  Their announcement was a bad day by the Bay.

            The justification for their action was particularly troubling, even insidious.  They claim they are taking the Bible seriously, but have found new ways to interpret the Bible which justify – even mandate – their position.  They carefully articulate their position as being biblical, not a rejection of biblical truth but a redefinition and clearer understanding of it.  They have invented a new hermeneutic to support their experience-driven conclusions that several thousand years of biblical interpretation has been wrong.

            The decision by City Church is not really about sexuality; it’s about biblical authority.  The crux of the matter is this: does the Bible define morality or does our experience define morality?  The answer to that question has far more significant implications than affirming any form of sexual behavior.  The gospel itself is at stake.  If the Bible is wrong on defining sinful behavior, then why should we assume it’s correct when it also prescribes the solution?

            Over the past few months, much has been made of Golden Gate’s decision to relocate its primary campus to Southern California.  Perhaps you missed the second part of the announcement – we are also building a new campus in the Bay Area.  We are staying in the Bay Area, with a significant investment in a new campus, to support the churches here who continue to submit to biblical authority and honor the historic understanding of the Christian faith (and its Jewish heritage).

            We will be sharing the first architectural drawings of our new Bay Area Campus in meetings later this week.  It is a beautiful symbol of our commitment to shaping leaders who expand God’s kingdom in one of the most challenging ministry settings in North America.  It’s also evidence of our commitment to staying by our historic convictions as we train leaders for the challenging work we have to do in this part of God’s world.


Guys You've Never Heard of

Mar 09 2015

              The Christian celebrity subculture is a natural byproduct of a media saturated society.  There are prominent conference speakers and singers that seem to be on program after program around the country.  That’s not all bad.  God gives some people remarkable communication skills and it’s good for all of us to take advantage of those gifts.


One false assumption, though, that arises from watching these superstars is they are somehow the most valuable ministry leaders who are making the greatest impact.  The longer I lead, the less sure I am of that conclusion.  It seems to me the most important ministry leader you know is the one who visits you when you’re sick, performs the wedding for your children, stands for God’s Word in your community, or encourages you when you hit hard times.


Recently, while speaking in Montana, I met a pastor who has been there for almost 35 years.  I also participated in a service honoring a denominational leader who had served and strengthened church leaders for more than 25 years.  The first pastor means a lot to me because before he moved to Montana, he helped train me as a high school student.  The denominational leader impressed me because of the standing ovation he received, largely from other pastors, for all he had done for them.  James Moore and Mark Langley are two guys you have likely never heard of – but in their context they are and have been significant spiritual leaders.


Don’t be fooled by the false notion that well-known means most important.  Most of the significant work in God’s kingdom is being done by local leaders who are not well-known outside their community.  If you are one of those people, thank God for you.  If you are served by one of them, take time to say thank you to them.


Korean Friends

Mar 02 2015

            In the Bay Area, we have many Korean churches being led by Golden Gate students or graduates.  Every year they host a music festival, bringing many churches together to share an evening of choral and instrumental presentations.  They honor Golden Gate by highlighting our work, asking me to speak for a few minutes, and giving us a significant gift.  We appreciate their support, loyalty, and the outstanding musicianship which makes the evening so special.

            My introduction to the Korean Christian community came through Dr. Chang Moon, a longtime pastor in Tacoma, Washington.  For some reason, he reached out to me as a younger pastor and helped me connect with his church.  Then, while I worked for the Northwest Baptist Convention, he often invited me to teach, preach, or lead training events for him.  He taught me to love Koreans, Korean worship, and Korean food.  His friendship has shaped me profoundly.

            As Golden Gate moves steadily to a new future in new locations, our commitment to multicultural ministry, to the Bay Area, and particularly to the Korean community has not waned.  We will continue to train leaders – both in English and in our bilingual programs – for global ministry in and through the Korean community.  It’s been a great partnership and will only grow stronger as we continue to work together.


Best Job Ever

Feb 23 2015

             Last Sunday, I was reminded why being the pastor of a church (of a Baptist church if you are really fortunate!) is the best job ever.  I preached at a healthy church where the pastor has served effectively for more than a decade.  After the second service (of three), a man in his mid-thirties sought me out to talk about the message.  While my message had focused on motivating Christians to meet the needs of people and share the gospel, he told me he was the needy person I had been talking about and he wanted to commit his life to Jesus.

            After talking with him briefly, I introduced him to the pastor so I could move into preaching at the next service.  After that service, the pastor told me our new friend had committed himself to Jesus.  It was only his second time to visit the church, but his desperate situation motivated him to receive the gospel and the hope it offers.  That’s why being a pastor is the best job in the world.  While I moved on down the road that afternoon, the pastor gets to facilitate this man’s baptism, incorporate him into their church family, and help him learn how to follow Jesus.  What could possibly be more rewarding than that?

            Don’t get me wrong.  I like my job, too.  But being a seminary president is like working in wholesale – while pastors work retail.  I work behind the scenes training people and shaping leaders who reach people.  That’s good work, but without the immediate results of seeing people come to faith in Jesus and be transformed by the gospel.

            At the end of the services last Sunday, the church where I was preaching showed a video of all its baptisms from the previous year.  Changed life after changed life flashed on the screen.  What an amazing, gratifying, thrilling montage!  Thank God for faithful pastors who preach, teach, and live the gospel!  And, thank God for a good church that let me share their joy this past Sunday.  It was like a cool breeze on a hot day, refreshing and invigorating, motivating me to keep doing my job so hundreds of future pastors can do theirs.