On Sunday, March 26, we introduced you to Asher Griffin, a man we were considering for Minister of Theological Training. More recently we announced that we invited Asher to come and that he accepted. We’re thrilled about this, as are so many of you who have expressed excitement for Asher and Brooke to come.
Asher and Brooke are still in Oklahoma and plan to move for Asher to start at DSC on May 1.
In the middle of his own fury of transition details, Asher was kind to take some time to answer some questions for us. In Part 1 we’ll learn a bit about Asher’s background and family. In Part 2 we’ll learn about some of the more profound influences in his life.
We sure look forward to having you here. Thanks for doing this interview with us. How are you and Brooke doing?
We’re doing great; thanks for asking! We couldn’t be more excited to get out to Albuquerque. In fact, probably every night, one of us will say something like: “I just reeeeeeally want to get there.” We’ll miss many people in Oklahoma, but we’re so grateful to be coming to DSC. We’ve only felt true peace and eagerness in this. It’s been a great season for us.
Let’s start with your salvation story. How did the Lord save you? You can give us the brief version here, and we’ll have the chance to get better acquainted later.
I’ll try to be brief. God saved me at a young age by showing me His glory and power through His Word, conversations with my parents, our church, and some older friends. I’ve always been a worrywart. And because of that, I was taught and shown how God brings ultimate peace and comfort through Jesus’ death, resurrection, and reign over everything. I never had doubt that I was a sinner, but I started to understand more and more that my sins not only had consequences, but finally must be dealt with. That was alarming to my conscience, even at a young age. My parents were careful and clear in explaining that Jesus took the place of repentant sinners on the cross and conquers death and sin. Over time, my faith became a reality and there was a shift from fear and regret to eagerness to trust in God and see Him as my Savior and hope, not my abilities or efforts. I was baptized a couple of years later. I still have doubts and I still worry, but those moments have an endpoint when I remember God’s love for me, remind myself of His perfect will and promise, and rejoice in the truth that Jesus saved me for rest and enjoyment.
Now, some context for your life and ministry. Tell us, briefly, where have you lived and what were you doing there? Tell us about degrees, some jobs you’ve had, and how you’ve served in ministry.
I’ve lived in Oklahoma, Washington D.C., Alaska, Kentucky, and Virginia. I grew up north of Oklahoma City, where I loved playing sports, school, friends, church, and outdoor stuff.
Things got logistically dramatic during my 20s as I attended Oklahoma State University. College was sanctifying. I joined my first church there, lived with nearly 20 people in 4 years, grew up a lot, and really saw the importance of being a disciple of Jesus. For a little bit, I lived in Washington D.C., working for the White House during the Bush administration. I lived in a town north of Tulsa, OK, working a short accounting stint for ConocoPhillips. I lived in Anchorage, AK, for a summer doing more accounting things with ConocoPhillips. In 2009, I moved to Louisville, KY, to go to seminary. Before finishing seminary, I moved to Charlottesville, VA, to serve at a church for nearly 2 years before then moving back to Louisville so that I could finish my M.Div. in 2013. In the fall of 2013, I moved back to my hometown and began serving at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, where I met Brooke, got married, and turned 30.
It was toward the very end of college (2008) that I made the switch from going the business route to then wanting to be a preacher and pastor. Growing up, I always thought highly of pastors, but never in my life saw it as something I’d want to be. It was after roughly two years of seeing the balance of ministry, career ambitions, and discipleship unfold to where I believe God made it clear that I truly want to vocationally pastor, pray, and preach. He’s been kind to let me serve, intern, and pastor within His churches, and I hope each step keeps preparing me for more ministry.
You’re newly married! Tell us about how you met Brooke and how things progressed to marriage.
Ah, Brooke is an ongoing answer to prayer and is truly lovely. Her mom introduced us at church on Good Friday in 2014 (Brooke grew up at Henderson Hills). Months later, she was home for the summer and I kept “accidentally” seeing her and chatting with her in the church lobby before or after services. So, I finally called her cell a couple weeks later, and after 98 dates (I have a list of all of them) in 6 months, I proposed.
Our “dating” was fast, but I believe God prepared us both for not only that whirlwind, but also the desire to spend a lifetime together in marriage. From our first date, I knew that Brooke was an amazing Christian woman, that I wanted to be around her, and that I’d never stop calling her. We got married in the summer of 2015 and it has been wonderful.
How did you first find out about DSC and what resonated most with you in learning about our church?
Well, I first heard of DSC when Trent Hunter went there in 2010. Trent and I were friends in seminary, so I followed his work and life through social media. He emailed me about this role in February, and I was pretty hooked.
From the outside, DSC looks good: great preaching, great music that you can hear from the website, elder leadership, and helpful doctrinal papers and stances. But to be honest, when I came as a candidate in March, it became clear how great a fellowship it is. On DSC’s inside, we saw that: the people were so kind, they were so great to Brooke, the elements of the worship service were just what we were hoping for, and the interview process with the elders greatly encouraged me. When we flew back to Oklahoma, we deeply desired to be invited back.
You’re serving in an associate ministry role at your current church. What is the same and what is different about the role you’re taking as Minister of Theological Training?
I expect a lot to be the same and a lot to be different. I expect it to be the same in that when I walk into a church building, a home, a hospital, or a coffee meeting, ultimately, I’m entrusted with the task of shepherding people. And I love that. That’s the most affirming thing I get to do daily – I get the opportunity to listen to others tell about God working in their own and other people’s lives, and I get to participate in sharing and showing God’s love and watch others do the same. We’re all called to that in some degree, but I get to do it vocationally. I’m so grateful for that.
Differences will be vast in several ways. First, I’m not from New Mexico. I expect the culture of people, the personality of Albuquerque, and the rhythms of DSC to be different than what I’m used to. Which is great, but it’ll take a little bit for Brooke and I to observe, listen, and understand. Second, I’ll be so thankful every chance I get to preach, teach, or lead a ministry/project within my own church. I do a lot of pulpit supply now, which is fun. But it’s even better when you preach a sermon for people you know, are entrusted to, and love already. It allows you to pray differently, preach more personally, and focus on the Word’s connection with specific groups even more.
You’ve completed a Master’s of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tell us about that degree and how it will help you in your role here.
I had a great experience at Southern. It was very hard for me to transition from a business mentality in college (and just the social atmosphere of college) to a more rigorous academic culture. On top of that, I was quickly beginning to grow in what it means to pastor people. But at Southern, I really loved learning about how to use God’s Word, and began trying to give my life to others within the church. I joined a great church and was influenced by some tremendous people. It was a great time of enjoying God through His Word and His Church.
Imagine seminary being a man standing in front of a class, holding up the Bible, and saying “trust the God of this Book.” That’s what seminary was to me. I believe my role at DSC will allow me to encourage people to delight in the Lord, to trust and use His Word, to not shy away from growing alongside others, and to be merciful to a world who needs Him. That’s what I gained from a life in the church and a season at Southern. A small picture of my role may look like leading through a conference, having coffees here and there, getting others to teach short theology courses, or preaching some sermons. But the big picture: together, we’re trying to worship God like He deserves, and we hope others see who we’re worshipping.