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Tim Higgins: Learning to Unlock the Whole Counsel of God

When Tim began to sense a call to ministry, he was attending a congregation that was a part of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). When he discovered Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s (TEDS) connection to the denomination, his interest was piqued, but he still had questions. “Just as significant to my discernment process was the faculty! Whom would I be learning under?” Tim says. He hoped for professors whose mentorship would prove to be formative in his walk with the Lord. After having many conversations with TEDS graduates who all spoke highly of their experiences, he enrolled in the Master of Divinity Program…and moved to Chicago!

A recipient of the Kern Scholarship, Tim was able to attend seminary as a full-time residential student instead of taking one class at a time while working in full-time ministry. “This made it an incredibly rich experience,” he says. “My relationships with fellow students and professors were able to penetrate down to layers of depth otherwise unattainable, and I was able to reflect on what I was learning in an environment conducive to intensive growth.”

Tim especially enjoyed his classes on Greek and Hebrew Exegesis. These “classes were consistently joy-producing because of the fresh look at the Scriptures provided by being able to read them in the original languages for the first time.” In the end, his favorite class was Biblical Theology with Dr. D. A. Carson. “I didn’t want to get up from my seat at the end of each class session because I was regularly left almost breathless at the beauty of how God has woven together the Scriptures,” Tim says.

At TEDS, Tim found his viewpoints challenged and refined. “My (theological) world was just so small before attending TEDS,” he said. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know! In class after class, I was surprised to find out that not only has someone thought of my questions before but also that there are entire theological tribes aligned by their answers to my questions!” He appreciated how the professors would “survey the landscape,” allowing him to weigh competing perspectives and then decide what he believed for himself.

Tim’s time as a student at TEDS amply prepared him for his future role as a pastor. He says, “Before seminary, I used to wonder: ‘How do pastors not live in constant panic that they will run out of material to preach?’ However, after being equipped at TEDS, my bigger concern was one of there being so much to preach—how can I ever get to it all?” He continued, “It is such a relief to have been trained in such a way that each Monday, when I read the passage I’ll be preaching on next—even if I initially have no idea what I could ever say from it!—I have confidence that God’s Spirit will meet with me as I dig in the ways I’ve now been trained to dig.” In short, TEDS prepared him to unlock “the whole counsel of God as potential nourishment for the flock.”

Today, Tim serves in the EFCA as the Senior Pastor at North Suburban Church, which is very close to TEDS. He says, “I do what a pastor does—preaching, leading, caring—but it’s a particular blessing to get to serve in this way in the shadow of TEDS.” Many TEDS professors and students have come through his church. Tim says, “It’s a joy to have a sending role in launching so many of them out to the places where they’ve been called to do ministry around the country and around the world.” He also appreciates getting to visit TEDS for chapel services, lectures, and events, in addition to continuing to make use of the Rolfing Library!

To the donors who make it possible for students like himself to attend TEDS, Tim says, “You’re doing a massively important work. With so many options for theological training, Trinity’s future impact depends on her ability to continue to attract top-flight professors. What’s more, I know there are many young men and women in the situation I was in at age 28, working a ‘secular’ job and sensing a call to ministry but dragging my feet about starting a program at a place like TEDS because of the cost! A healthy scholarship can be used by God as one more nudge in the direction of His calling, reassuring an individual that He will provide.”

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