The Credo House “Fellow” is the concept we have envisioned to describe the ministry leaders of future Credo Houses. Each Credo House will be run by 1) a “Fellow” and 2) a coffee house/book store manager called the Credo House “Monk” (since monks invented coffee!). In a sense, the Fellow is like the pastor of the Credo House, carrying many of the unique gifts which such a job would demand. But, as the Credo House is not a church, we have to be careful with this.
It might help to provide you a list of what the Credo House Fellow will do.
Teaching and Events
The Fellow will be responsible for all theological and biblical education which happens at his Credo House. This would include his regular teaching but also include scheduling of seminars, special events (like open houses), and scholars appearing as special guest teachers, seminars, special events (like open houses), as well as approval of regular bible studies, book studies, etc. He would also give tours of the Credo House and make a Luther Latte from time to time!
Local Church/Ministry Networking
As well, he would be in charge of networking with local churches and providing pastors with fellowships and continuing education. In this, he would be heavily involved with local church leadership, facilitating church colloquies for those intent on reaching their community with the Gospel. While discussions are ongoing right now about exactly what this looks like, our desire is for local churches to have “ownership” in the Credo House; therefore, we hope to have church liaisons who form a local Credo House board and aid the Fellow in the ministry and direction of the local Credo Houses.
For Credo Houses planted in college towns, networking responsibilities will also include making the Credo House known and available to college ministries such as Young Life, Campus Crusade for Christ, Baptist Student Union, etc.
Contributing to the Fellowship
The designation of “Fellow” represents not only the local leader’s status at his Credo House, but his relationship among other Credo House fellows. We will have a Fellowship of Fellows whose work is representative of the larger Credo House Network, which together contributes to scholarship intent on reaching our communities with the truth of Jesus Christ. Involved in this will be contributions to the main Credo House Ministries site, providing articles, blogs, and podcasts, as well as contributions to the Credo House Magazine (more someday!), etc. We will hold an annual meeting of Credo House Fellows (and “Associate Fellows” – more below) where we will fellowship, pray together, hug, and discuss relevant topics of theology. These meeting will rotate yearly from town to town with Credo House representation.
Expansion of the Fellowship
Certain Credo Houses will serve as training grounds for future Fellows. While in training, they will be called “Associate Fellows.” Not only will their theology, passion, and teaching be under the watchful shaping eye of the Fellow but, just as important, their attitude and disposition in dealing with controversial theological issues will be studied as well. Once the Associate Fellow has successfully finished his “residency,” he will be a prime candidate to become a Fellow at the next Credo House.
Finally, the Fellow would be responsible for raising awareness of his local Credo House’s financial support needs. This amounts to fundraising for the continued sustainability of the local Credo Houses. While we expect the Coffee, books, and (fun) merchandise to provide support for the Monks (and under-monks!) as well as the building, lights, and store, every Credo House will be under the umbrella of Credo House Ministries’ 501(c)3 not-for-profit status (FYI: while we understand the strength of this idea, we have no desire to turn this into a for-profit business or franchise this idea – too many problems to speak of for our ministry vision). Therefore, funding for all the local events, well-being of the Fellow, as well as the planting of future Credo Houses will need to be raised. Fundraising will often be as simple as letting people know after a lesson or special event that the Credo House needs support to exist. But it will also include special “Getting to Know Your Credo House” events and lunches with interested parties.
Who is the Next Fellow?
My desire is that many of the first ten to twenty Fellows will be among those who are already well known in the Evangelical community, have written extensively, and/or are already established because of their scholarship and grace. I have some in mind, but I ain’t tellin’ you now!
The qualifications of a Fellow:
1. Evangelical in confession: contrary to what some may believe, this will not be an issue of Reformed/Arminian, Dispensational/Covenant, Cessationist/Continuationist, Young Earth/Old Earth, etc. In fact, the more diversity we can get in these areas, the more I feel we will represent our evangelistic mission of majoring in the majors. The person and work of Jesus Christ, salvation by faith alone, and the final authority of the Scriptures will be nonnegotiable.
2. ThM or better from a qualified seminary: I realize there are a lot of people who don’t have their Th.M. who might be qualified, but this is going to be a standard.
3. Well-established and highly regarded for his ability to communicate. It is not simply about how much you know, but how well you communicate it.
4. A passion for truth in the areas of Biblical studies, theology, apologetics, and Christian philosophy. The Fellow does not need to be an expert in ALL of these, just well-grounded and informed and able to keep up and look back at the same time!
5. Pastoral. The Fellow must be patient, understanding, gentle, and have a passion for people (i.e. not just truth), desiring their faith to grow deeper everyday. A Fellow on his knees says so much.
6. Irenic. He cannot have a reputation for misrepresenting or belittling the faith of others, but through his calm, kind, understanding, and informed demeanor, he represents the truth of the Gospel with a peaceable and unflustered spirit. Think 007 of Theology. Okay, maybe that is not the best, but you get the picture. Irenic, not polemic.
7. All of the qualifications outlined in 1 Tim and Titus. Kaboom. That covers a lot.
There you have it: The Credo House Fellow in a nutshell. I may have missed a thing or two, but this is only the second draft to be written down.
I get so excited writing this I can hardly stand it!
C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]