Here Am I
2007 WSC graduate Shane Lems is the subject of this segment of “Here am I.” Shane was a top student. He has been affectionately called “the most disciplined student to have ever attended seminary.” I’ve never seen him complain about anything. Everyday is exciting for Shane. And as a student, churchman, and family man he never does anything half way. He has been a great encouragement and example to me (Chaos). And now the Lord has blessed Shane with the most privileged of callings. He is serving as Church Planter for the United Reformed Church. He ministers at the URC of Sunnyside, which is overseen by Grace URC, Kennewick, Washington.
Phil-What is your church background experience?
Shane-CRC then URCNA
P-When did you know that you wanted to pursue the
S-It was a slow process, but my time in the Army Reserves was a time of a thousand thoughts about sin and salvation. Also, I had a pastor or two along the way nudge me in this direction.
P-What made you choose to come to WSC?
S-Before seminary, I had read some materials by some WSC profs. I clearly remember reading Dr. Horton’s “In the Face of God.” After reading that and several articles by Horton, I was impressed and thought it would be a good thing to have him as a professor. I also read Dr. Baugh’s article on the two Adams (an article on Romans 5), which I was also impressed with and influenced by. Furthermore, a few pastors I held in high esteem were WSC grads who encouraged me to check it out. One other reason why I went to WSC is because they stressed gospel centered preaching. I was convinced that Christ centered preaching is the only way to preach, and I wanted the professors at WSC to push me further in that direction. Finally, I went to Westminster in California because I heard that their language programs were top-notch.
P-How then did WSC prepare you for the ministry?
S-WSC really gave me so many of the tools that are needed in ministry. As I sit in my study here at the church plant, I just thought about the fact that my Greek and Hebrew lexicons, grammars, and Bibles are the easiest to reach from my desk (right on the other side of my coffee cup!). In other words, because of the professors at WSC, I am willing and able to dig deeply in the original languages of Scripture. So I am prepared to study Scripture hard thanks to WSC. I also benefited from the historical theology department at Westminster. There was an evident and clear emphasis on historical theology, from the ancient church to the modern church, with the Reformation between. By studying the church of all ages, I was able to see how Reformation doctrine is no new thing, and how some of our dearest and most precious doctrines are not just the product of some sectarian movement of the 16th century. Thanks to many profs at Westminster, I am also able to read a wide variety of sources for different subjects. That is, I learned how to read critically yet humbly. I learned that we don’t have to stay in the corner of our Reformed world and build large dark walls of defense with polemics as the mortar. I learned that we should interact with those we disagree with — interact intellectually and with kindness. There are so many little things that seminary taught me, from the Creator/creature distinction, to the RPW, to Latin theological terms, to Christian liberty. However, you probably don’t want me to go any deeper; you’ll lose readers because of length!
P-You are working on a few books?
S-Well, I’d love to write something in 3-5 years on preaching. I don’t want to give it away, in case I change my mind or something, but it would be a homiletics book that deals with many recent movements in postmodernism. The other I’m working on is still a secret. Email me in 2-3 months for more info.
P-How did you come upon your present ministry
S-I was called by the Grace URC in Kennewick, Washington to plant a church in the Yakima Valley. Thankfully, I was pretty much called right out of seminary.
P-Describe what the Lord has been doing in your church.
S-Well, in a word, the Lord has been teaching all of us the gospel. We’re not a huge church with 248 ministry opportunities. We’re just a little group of people here who want to be Reformational, who want to worship God on his terms, who want to learn what it means to be a Christian. We pray that our little gospel centered reformational voice will spread around here since there is little or no Reformed presence in this area; actually, Southern Washington is quite void of Reformation theology.
P-What are your ministry goals?
S-A prayer I pray every day is that the people in this church plant learn who Christ is and what he has done for us. Again, in a word, I want them to be all wrapped up in the good news so that they overflow with thankfulness for salvation. In better words, Paul’s prayers for those churches in the 1st century are my prayers. On a different note and more off in the distance, I would love this church to plant a church someday. Who knows when, but I want us to always be thinking about getting more Reformed churches out there. One more thing: I have not stopped thinking about Ph.D. work in linguistics or hermeneutics or something. Though that is way off in the future. Way off.
P-How do you expect to achieve this sort of gratitude in your church?
S-Prayer, sweat, tears, and headaches, humanly speaking. Most importantly, we rest on God’s perfect providence, literally: I couldn’t sleep at night if these things were in my weak and sinful hands.
S-Sure: visit our website: www.urcofsunnyside.com and pray for us!