The Forum: Describe your call to ministry. How old were you? Was it a specific moment or more of a discovery process?
Brix: The Lord impressed a call to vocational ministry on my heart at a very young age. Throughout my teen years especially, my pastor gave me a lot of latitude to test my gifts in ministry. One opportunity in particular seemed to shape me and my call. For a number of years, I read the pastor’s biblical text in worship each week just before he preached. That not only allowed me to develop a love for reading the scriptures publicly, it also connected me to the pastor’s sermon in a meaningful way at an impressionable time in my life.
I struggled, however, with how to respond to the call that I sensed. I had a lot of evangelical influences in my life and, already as a teen, I knew that the mainstream denomination my family was part of was not my theological home. As part of my geography degree, I studied international development in university and, soon after marriage, explored missions work, but in the end, I still couldn’t see the way forward.
My wife and I finally parted ways with our former denomination, discovered the rich theological heritage of the CRC, and started our family. By that point, I was enjoying a career in the world of educational publishing and I had allowed the call to vocational ministry to recede to the back of my head and heart. But the Lord was persistent.
One day, the call to ministry came back in a dramatic, urgent, and pressing way. For the first (and only!) time in my life, the Lord spoke “audibly” to me and instructed me to listen to His calling. That began a year-long journey of exploration, discovery, affirmation, and preparation! We moved to Grand Rapids in 1990 to begin studies at Calvin Seminary and have never looked back!
What was seminary like for you? How did you view seminary during your time as a student? How do you view theological education now?
My years at Calvin Seminary were a time of genuine spiritual growth. We committed ourselves to a local congregation that loved us, supported us, and gave me opportunities to further explore and test my gifts. Without any source of significant income for four years, we also learned to trust in God’s providence and care in a way we had never experienced before. We learned humility through the use of food banks and community health clinics, and we discovered the incredible generosity of God’s people who silently loved us with gifts that no one else ever knew about.
Theologically, too, I grew in leaps and bounds. Because the denomination I grew up in was so theologically eclectic, my understanding of the scriptures was not well formed. Although I knew lots of biblical stories and teaching, I had no overall framework in which to place them. Calvin Seminary gave me the ability to see the biblical narrative as a story of God’s covenant dealings with His people. Through the lens of creation, fall, and redemption, I was able to see for the first time that Christ was at the center of the entire story. Those new discoveries excited me and laid a foundation for ministry that has served me well.