Pastors College Snapshots - Joshua Earl
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing with you a series of snapshots—brief glimpses into the lives of men who attended the Pastors College this past year. In June, we graduated a class of students and are now preparing for a new class the end of this month. Please pray with us that the Lord would strengthen the impact of the college upon our pastors and churches, for His glory.
The first snapshot is written by Joshua Earl who graduated from this year’s class. He and his wife Michelle and three children are now living in Charlotte, NC, preparing to church plant in Wilmington, NC (twoguysplanting.org).
This is a portion of what he shared at the Pastors College graduation.
Three days ago, we closed our computers and walked out of the Pastors College classroom for the last time. When we entered the classroom for the first time on Saturday, August 27, 2016, I don’t think any of us could imagine the wealth of knowledge, the lifelong friendships, and the unique blessings that awaited us this year!
And having just finished, it is impossible to articulate the many ways God has used our time here to both challenge and change my family and me. So I will mention just a few.
Though I was a senior pastor for several years before our arrival, I am far better equipped to access and navigate God’s word since attending the PC.
The Bible has become to me a picture book filled with a million vivid portraits of God’s self-revelation – all connected to form one, big story that tells of our redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ.
We now have a full year of seminary-level Greek behind us, and a genuine love for the biblical languages that will doubtless fuel and strengthen further biblical study.
I wish I could mention every class and every instructor. But with each passing week, I gained new understanding, new tools, and greater confidence in the power of God’s Word to change lives. And I am excited to return to serve as an under-shepherd of Christ’s church because of our experience this year.
The Pastors College experience has also profoundly affected our family life. When we arrived in Louisville in March 2016, in many ways, Michelle and I thought we had little need for growth in our marriage and parenting. We were wrong. Very quickly the Lord began to uncover those knotty roots that lay beneath the surface of our hearts. We had many impassioned exchanges, and tears flowed due to God’s sanctifying work.
However, because of the wise and loving counsel of Gary and Betsy, the example of our pastors, and the encouragement we received in our fellowship groups, the gospel has reshaped our marriage, bringing a grace, joy, and humility we had not experienced before.
The Gospel has also transformed our parenting. The grace that brought us salvation is helping us to extend mercy to our children and providing us with daily opportunities to share God’s truth with them. So grateful.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Pastors College is the relational aspect. Because we experienced the year together, my fellow students and their wives became the dearest and most faithful of friends. Michelle was surrounded by ladies who love Christ and model His humility in the way they care for their husbands and homes. I have been surrounded by strong, godly men who have sharpened me, encouraged me, and cared for me.
It is an impossibility, to sum up, all that God did over the past ten months. But I cannot imagine planting a new church apart from this experience. It’s only by God’s grace that any of us can serve faithfully, but God in His grace has powerfully equipped us this year. We’re leaving as different people, strengthened by new relationships, and joined to a family of churches we love and long to labor with.
Joshua Earl graduated from the Pastors Conference in June 2017. He is completing a church planting residency at CrossWay Community Church (Charlotte, NC) and is planning to plant a church in Wilmington, NC. He and his wife, Michelle, have three children.