Marco Rubio (and his water bottle) are increasingly well-known. What you might know is his faith journey. I preached at the church he mentions in the interview, Christ Fellowship Miami, and they have great appreciation for him there. Christianity Today tells his story.
You were baptized as a Mormon and then as a Roman Catholic. Can you describe your faith journey?
My mother desperately wanted to give her kids a wholesome environment, and we were born into a traditional Catholic family. We had extended family members who were and remain active members of the LDS church, which does provide a very wholesome environment. We joined the church for a little less than three years when I was very young, after we moved to Las Vegas in 1979. I'm not sure my mom ever fully understood the church theologically. As a family we were never fully immersed in it because my father didn't buy in, so there are many intricacies to the faith that we never really got involved in. By the time I was in sixth grade, we had left the Mormon Church and gone back to Catholicism, and I did my First Communion on Christmas Day 1984.
And you attended an evangelical church for a period of time?
Sometime in 2000, I unfortunately got really busy with my political stuff. I perhaps didn't do a good job of spiritually leading my family, which is one of the roles I play alongside my wife. In the meantime, my wife and my sister found an excellent local church, Christ Fellowship. It does a phenomenal job on two fronts: bringing people to Jesus, and teaching the written Word through phenomenal preachers. And it has a fantastic children's program. For a period of time, it became our church home almost exclusively. I felt called back to Catholicism around 2004, but have maintained the relationship with Christ Fellowship and attend their services often or listen to the podcasts.
Did you have a conversion moment when you acknowledged your sins and Jesus' death on the cross?
There has never been a moment when faith hasn't been an important part of my life. There have been moments when I've been more alive in my faith than others. There have been times when I've been more involved in my faith, dedicating more to it, and giving it more importance. Like everybody else, unfortunately, it's usually in time of need that we tend to turn to our faith.
It would be unfair to say I had a moment of conversion. But one moment when my faith journey took on a different aspect was when my children became a bit older. I recognized that perhaps the most important part of my job in raising them is that I have only a handful of years to influence them and to inspire in them the knowledge of Jesus, Christianity, and what it means for salvation. If I fail in that regard, everything else becomes less meaningful.
Bruce Ashford has a great article on reaching the university (and seeing it as an Unreached People Group).
Boniface served as a missionary to an unreached people group--the Hessian Germans--and had the nerve to chop down their central idol as a way of showing that Christ is Lord. In like manner, we have an opportunity to reach an unreached people group--the Academy--and chop down many of the idols that flourish in its environment. The University is a teeming ecosystem of idolatry, providing a lush environment in which students may cultivate an inordinate love for sex, money, power, success, and the approval of man. These types of idols exist in a co-dependent relationship and foster the "isms" that dishonor God and disable human flourishing--isms such as consumerism, relativism, eroticism, naturalism, and scientism.
During the 20th century, the evangelical world at large abdicated its responsibility to the Academy. Although we started some fine Christian institutions, we mostly ignored the need to shape the professorate and the curriculum at major state universities and private colleges. As a result, we have little hand in shaping what is perhaps the most influential sector of American society and of many global societies. While state universities and influential private universities are busy shaping the minds and hearts of young people across the globe, evangelicals have been largely absent.
If evangelicals wish to be faithful to our Lord in the 21st century, we must find ways to proclaim him with our lips and promote him with our lives in university contexts, both here in the West and around the globe. Why do the universities matter for the Christian mission? Over the course of the next two installments, I will argue that they should matter because of (1) the universality of Christ's Lordship; (2) the powerful influence of the university; (3) the readily receptive mindset of university students; (4) the breadth of Christ's atonement; and (5) the danger of "split-level Christianity." Finally, (6) I will provide three suggestions for action.
All God's people are called to ministry by nature of their conversion (1 Peter 4:10-11), yet not all are called to be pastors. Kevin DeYoung has a helpful article on how to tell.
Here are several questions you should ask yourself as you ponder a call to pastoral ministry.
1. Do I meet the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? This is the place to start. If your character is not mature, stable, and (in a non-perfectionist way) exemplary, then you are not ready to be a pastor. This does not necessarily mean you are on the wrong path if you don't yet have victory over certain sins (like pornography), but it means you won't be ready until you meet the Scriptural standards.
2. Do the Christians who know me best consistently affirm my gifts for ministry? The most important call is the objective call of your church encouraging you to pursue pastoral ministry.
3. Do I like to teach all kinds of people in all kinds of settings? Most people thinking of pastoral ministry are excited to preach. I want to know if they are excited to preach at the Rescue Mission and excited to teach catechism to five-year-olds.
4. Do I find myself stirred by good preaching? If a man is called to preach the gospel he should be thrilled to hear it preached. The content should move him, and he should find himself thinking "Oh, that I could proclaim this good news."
5. Do I find myself stirred by bad preaching? The last point was obvious. This one is less so, but just as important. I think there ought to be a fire in a man's bones when he hears the word of God handled badly.
6. Do I enjoy being around people? Some pastors are extroverts; many are not. I'm sort of the middle. I look forward to being with people more than some pastors I know, but not nearly as much as many men I admire. But whatever your personality, you won't be a good pastor if you don't like people and recoil from them as much as possible.
7. Do I make friends easily? This is a subjective test (like so many of these questions), but a lack of meaningful friendships is not a good sign. It could be an indication that you are too harsh, too much a loner, or frankly too awkward to be effective in pastoral ministry.
8. Do I like to read? Thankfully there is no GPA or SAT requirement for pastoral ministry. And yet, if we are to be "apt to teach" we must be eager to learn. Preaching grows thin and ministry get stale without time in the Book and the books.
9. Have I thought about doing this for more than a few months? Often when students or adults come to Christ they quickly assume that because they are zealous for the Lord they ought to go seminary and prepare for the ministry. This is usually misguided, sometimes because of pride and sometimes due to misplaced zeal. There's a reason the Bible insists that church leaders not be recent converts.
10. Do I still want to be a pastor if I never write a book, never speak at a conference, and never have a big church? Our passion must be to feed the flock, not feed our egos.
Today's clip from The Exchange features Ronnie Floyd and Pete Wilson discussing small group structure, leadership, resourcing and the relaunch of curriculum Bible Studies for Life. Be sure to join us today and every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern for The Exchange.