Matthew Bailey (ThM, 2013)

Alumni Spotlight

I love Jesus, but I have always been bothered by the fact that Christians today don’t look and act like Christians of the New Testament. Too often, we take the most ineffective path in bringing the gospel to the nations. Despite my negative sentiments, God called me to be a pastor. I didn't know how to respond to that.

Ten years later I finished seminary and answered that pastoral call on my life. Bill Stewart (ThM, 2004) hired me to be the full-time youth pastor at Journey Church near Saginaw, TX, where he served as senior pastor. After two years of ministry at a church with a desire to reach more people for Christ, God presented our church with an amazing opportunity.

A church from the Denton, TX, area was launching a campus across the street from us. Our churches partnered on outreach events and soon God made it clear that we were better together. Why should two congregations be living out the same mission separately in the same community? After nine months of conversations, planning, and prayer, we merged with that local campus to form one new church, The Table Community Church. Our values are simple. Our mission is community focused, and we have a strong emphasis on partnering with other churches instead of competing against them. We take seriously Jesus’s words, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) People are welcome to "come as you are." Everyone has a seat at the table.

We embody this vision in our student ministry by teaching truth and loving well. My wife Katy (MACE, 2013) and I lead the student ministry. We create environments in which the students are taught the truth of Jesus’ redeeming love then given opportunities to love others like He did. To prevent high school students from abandoning their faith in college, we do not have a Sunday morning “program” like the middle school and kids’ ministry. Instead, they are treated like adults, attending the services and serving in ministry alongside their parents and mentors. They are taught truth on Wednesday nights and learn how to love well by serving on Sundays. I have learned that in order for students to believe what they are taught about Jesus, they need just as many hours serving others. We do not try to upload a relationship with Jesus into their brains. We teach them to love others like Jesus loves them. This is how I was taught at DTS.

The time I spent at DTS exceeded my expectations. Seminary fulfilled my dreams of growing in knowledge of God and His Word, but it did more than that. I also learned that being like Jesus means getting your hands dirty outside the classroom. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus and only feed your mind. From Greek and Hebrew professors navigating through textual issues with the hearts of pastors, to counseling and pastoral professors teaching us how to love and care for people with the minds of theologians, I am indebted to the warm hearts and sharp minds of the DTS faculty.

I will forever remember my last Hebrew class with Dr. Gordon Johnston because we started and ended each session on our knees praying. If there was ever an example of teaching truth and loving well in the classroom, that was it. The most impactful class was ecclesiology with Dr. Svigel. Having been frustrated with church my whole life, his class corrected my faulty views and rebelliousness. He encouraged me that there is no perfect church or organization this side of heaven. I am indebted to his theological insight, emphasis on history, and ultimately his love for the local church.

In all, the greatest contribution from DTS is the professors’ commitment to maintaining academic excellence while humbly caring for individuals wherever they are in life. The faculty was very open and accommodating all four years of my experience, and their willingness to engage us on a personal level—as we wrestled with our callings to serve—has had a lasting impact on my life. I love DTS, and I now love the Church because of them.