Knowing it would keep him grounded while studying at DTS, Aaron Schubert, volunteered to be part of Irving Bible Church’s candle ministry team seven years ago. Born and raised in Michigan, he wrote, “At the time of my birth, my parents were new believers and had explored various denominations but were unsure, so they put Biblicist on my birth certificate under religion.” Aaron grew up in a mostly Evangelical free church, which gave him a solid foundation in Scripture.
What prompted you to explore theology?
I grew without having a good grasp of church history, liturgy, or what it means to have community in the pursuit of God. I went to Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, for my undergraduate degree in history and encountered there Lutherans, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Methodists, and Presbyterians among the students and the faculty. All of them were serious about their faith and well informed about why they were a part of their tradition. Their testimonies started me on the journey of theological exploration that I am still pursuing.
Why DTS? How did you end up in Dallas, Texas?
God has plans and sometimes those align with ours, and sometimes they don’t. I wanted to continue to study religious history in graduate school, but after failing to get accepted to any programs I was interested in, my wife, Tiffany, and I moved to Dallas so she could begin her program in literature at the University of Dallas. I got a job but had heard DTS had an excellent historical theology program. One or two people from Hillsdale already attended classes there, and I contacted them and decided to enroll for one semester. I discovered that DTS fit my passions for history, theology, and teaching much better than the plans that I had made, and here I am.
What are you studying?
I completed my ThM and the coursework for my PhD in Theological Studies. I am now studying for comprehensive exams. My area is hermeneutics and Augustinian theology. It’s intimidating to step into a field like Augustinian theology with so many bright minds mixed with 1,500 years of scholarship and the interaction of Augustinian ideas. It is a rewarding process and I feel fortunate to learn from them all and pass what I can to others. The work has deeply enriched my faith, and I hope I can, in turn, amplify the body of Christ with what I have received here.
Can you tell me about the prayer ministry at Irving Bible Church? When did you start participating and what prompted you to get involved in your church’s prayer ministry?
Our first visit to IBC was in 2009. After a year, we had completed what the church calls Propel, which is the church’s way of helping people get connected to ministries inside and outside the church. Shy as a kid and still introverted, I looked for something that would not draw attention to myself. I also wanted this ministry to help me stay grounded amidst the mass of theological ideas. I wanted those ideas to pour into the rest of my life. The Blue Candle ministry provided all of those things.
The prayer ministry before and after a service involves the lighting of several colored candles. Before every service, I join the rest of the Blue Candle team to pray. After each service, there is a response time when people come forward, light a candle, and pray. A yellow candle is an acknowledgment that God is working in the life of the person. The red candle communicates that a new believer needs prayer. I kneel in front of the blue candle and wait for those who need someone to pray with them. We are there to pray for anyone who wants someone to come alongside them at that moment. We don’t always get tapped, but when we do, it is often for deep concerns, like divorce, addictions, and illnesses.
How has it affected you spiritually? How has it changed how you approach ministry?
Praying for others in their struggles has helped me see the importance of knowing the truth of God and how it changes everything in your life. More than anything it has reminded me that all these struggles, lessons, books, and thoughts are here so I may love God and love my neighbor well.
C. S. Lewis has a line somewhere about how every experience in a person’s life has been orchestrated by God, preparing them for every moment. In one service a woman came to ask me to pray for her college-aged son and losing his faith. I prayed and wept with her, and I understood a glimpse of that truth. I had attended speech and debate classes in high school; I had doubted and struggled in college. I had studied theology and the Bible for years; I had wrestled with my faith in the past for this exact moment—so I could comfort a sister-in-Christ and could serve her. If that was all the service I would ever give, all those events in my life, all the struggles, would have been worth it so I could help her.
Ministry is not only the Sunday morning sermons or classroom lectures, but requires living and incarnating Christ. Our calling as Christians is to live the life of Christ in every one of those millions of forgotten moments which God has prepared for us in advance.
What has serving and praying with others taught you?
Serving at IBC has taught me about humility and selflessness. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your trials and burdens, and it’s also tempting to compare those burdens with others—to judge whether my suffering is greater than yours—but each of those are selfish moves.
Praying for others takes you away from selfishness, or at least it should. It helps shift your perspective to someone else’s challenges and pray for God to bless and comfort them. You try to live out Philippians 2:3, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” Whether their temptations or sufferings are “worse” than yours is not the point. You are to be a channel of God’s grace to them. Praying with others and for others will always take the attention off yourself.
If you could say one thing about the importance of prayer what would it be?
Prayer requires vulnerability. One of the reasons many people hesitate to pray aloud—in small and personal gatherings—is that prayer is a vulnerable thing to do. That vulnerability increases fear, especially for introverts like me, but it also provides an opportunity to build authentic relationships. When we pray and confess our struggles to brothers and sisters, and when we pray for others and encourage them in their moments of despair, we incarnate the unity of the church Jesus prayed for in John 17. Most of the time we don’t see that unity, but it is encouraging when God shows us—in the opportunities he sets before us and through prayer.