I asked Daniel Thompson from Apprentice 2 Jesus if he would allow me to interview him for a blog post. He generously agreed to it, which is the the basis of this post. I have been following Dan’s blog for a number of years now and have been greatly encouraged by his pastoral heart.
1. Dan, tell us a little about yourself, where you from and what are some of your favourite memories of growing up as a child.
I grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas. My favourite memories are times with my family and baseball. I have loved the sport from my earliest memory and grew up in the era when the Kansas City Royals were a great baseball team.
2. What is the oddest food you have ever eaten?
I have never understood broccoli. It is the oddest food ever used for eating on this earth.
3. How old were you when you first sensed a call into the ministry and how did that call eventuate.
My earliest memory of “calling” was when I was ten years old. My grandmother and I were sitting on her front porch and she was asking what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went through the normal list of things (policeman, fireman, tort lawyer, criminal lawyer, etc.), then said, “Maybe I’ll be a preacher.”
She said, “That would be a great thing.”
When I was a senior in high school I was planning on learning more about journalism and history. On a missions trip over Christmas to Mexico I recall one powerful night where our team spent an extended time around the altar after the service. That night I knew clearly the Lord was calling me to the ministry. It changed my college plans completely. I enrolled in North Central University (Bible College at the time) and never looked back.
4. How long have you been involved in pastoral ministry?
I planted a church for about three years out of Bible college. I have been at my current church for almost 14 years.
5. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in ministry?
It’s hard to explain in writing. When I was in college I was home for the summer and preaching in my home church. I get pretty animated when I preach and all of a sudden, a piece of phlegm dislodged into my throat as I was preaching. I had no opportunity to stop, clear my throat, and move on. Instead, I kept preaching and that piece of phlegm launched out of my mouth, turning end over end like a piece of taffy, and landed on the corner of the communion table. There was no ignoring the situation with a piece of phlegm dangling from the corner of the communion table. I stopped, wiped it up, and went on with my sermon. Nothing could ever embarrass me in life more than that. I’m glad that happened early in my ministry. It’s all uphill from there.
6. What saddens you the most about ministry?
In my context it is the numbers game. We are really into pragmatic results these days. We reward BIG numbers and talk about leadership from business models. It is not that I don’t want my church to grow numerically. I do. But we are so honed in on doing certain models of church business we forget to PASTOR people. We’re not very good at that anymore.
We have become a personality driven church. It’s just not a model I’m willing to take on.
7. How did you get involved in blogging?
That is a good question. I can’t really remember! I heard about blogs for quite awhile, then explored different blogs early on. I decided to give it a try and found I really enjoyed putting my thoughts down in a place where others read and there can be some interaction. I’ve been wonderfully surprised by people I meet who tell me they follow my blog all the time. I wish they would comment more on the blog! But I’m so thankful for the extended ministry it allows me.
8. I love the name Apprentice2Jesus. Is there a story behind that name and how you come to choose it?
I taught Spiritual Formation several years ago as one of my first assignments at North Central University. I soaked up Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, and the ancient writers they pointed me to. Dallas Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy has had a profound impact on my life. He talks about being apprenticed to Jesus. So I picked up Apprentice2Jesus (using the number 2) to see if I could get it registered as a domain name. It was open so I took it.
Jesus is the Master Teacher. Our lives as believers are to be spent apprenticed to him.
9. Who is your favourite theologian?
Jurgen Moltmann had a great impact on me a few years ago in my Masters program. I love his writing. I do not read nearly enough from great theologians. I am picking my way through Barth and really find the few words I understand to be impactful. I was deeply moved by Martin Luther’s The Freedom of the Christian the first time I read it. I was at Luther Seminary at the time and I asked the Lutherans why they didn’t believe Luther anymore. I never got a very good response from that one.
10. What is your favourite book in the New and Old Testament.
Right now in the OT it is Job. When I teach my OT class at North Central it is the book that has the highest impact on students. I love the deep struggle and honesty.
Ephesians has been a well spring for me for many years in the New Testament.
11. Your greatest strength.
My wife. I am lost without her.
12. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like Matthew McConaughey’s body. My wife would like it if I had his hair.
13. One of the things that has attracted me to your style of ministry is your cross denominational leanings…how long have you worked across denominational boundaries and was there a personal process to get to this point.
I’m not sure exactly when that began for me. I know that since I’ve been in Columbia Heights, MN, we have enjoyed a tremendous fellowship as pastors in our town. I have learned deeply from the Lutherans through Luther Seminary. I also picked up a love for the desert fathers from my studies at Luther.
When I was at Luther Seminary I helped served communion one time in chapel and I was so moved by the process of handing each person the bread and saying every time, “The body of Christ for you.”
In the Assemblies of God we let people sit and deacons serve them. I changed that. First, every month I had people come forward and I would serve them saying those words to each one. “The body of Christ for you. The blood of Christ for you.”
Then a little over a year ago we decided to go with communion every week. We center on the table of the Lord every week and serve people coming forward. It also gives us a great opportunity to blend in altar time, intercessory prayer, etc.
Richard Foster’s book Streams of Living Water opened up to me the view of church history where I could take the great things of each movement and realize they ALL belong in some way in my life and ministry.
I am Pentecostal. I am Assemblies of God. Those are my deep roots. Many others have had no qualms about moving away from those roots. I have chosen not to do that. For one, it would cost me too much money. I found out other denominations want far more training that I already have (and they don’t consider I’ve been at this for 25 years). I just can’t afford more seminary training!
But besides that, I love Pentecost. I love what I have learned growing up in the Assemblies of God. I have learned MORE as I’ve grown up, but that doesn’t mean I have to move tribes. I help my particular church widen their perspective, which is a good thing. At times that also helps me bring a wider perspective to my own movement. (Not often, since I don’t pastor a megachurch so they don’t pay much attention to me.)
As a Pentecostal I have the opportunity not only to learn from other streams, but GIVE to other streams. What the Pentecostal movement has done in the past century is significant and I am thankful for that. It really ADDS to the church universal.
Dan, thanks for taking time to take part in this interview and making the blogging world a better place for your contribution. I love your heart for God, his church and his people. I pray that our gracious Lord will continue to work deeply within you, inspiring and empowering you to be the pastor he has called you to be.