Seminary Provides Safe Space to Engage Difficult Questions

July 16, 2021

When Rick Pidcock decided to go to seminary, he was actually on a journey away from pursuing church leadership. He was also going through a challenging season of deconstructing his faith.

Before applying to Northern Seminary, Pidcock says, “I was rethinking virtually every part of my theology. I wanted to do so within a seminary experience in order to receive the feedback of professors who invited my questions and had access to resources and theological possibilities that I was unaware of.”

In 2004, after he graduated from Bob Jones University, Pidcock and his wife had moved to Denver to help start a church. There he led worship and small groups and preached, hoping to be hired full time eventually. Yet his family ended up leaving that congregation under challenging circumstances. Pidcock spent years leading worship in very conservative evangelical churches and running a cleaning business.

“Eventually,” he says, after a time of reflection and actively seeking a worship pastor role, “I died to the dream of being hired by a church. But then I felt freed to ask the questions I had been suppressing.”

Pidcock found a place to explore those questions at Northern. “For my entire life,” he says, “I’ve learned and ministered in churches that dictated very specific, narrow theological positions. But at Northern, I felt like the professors were opening up theological possibilities to us rather than dictating to us what we must believe.” His determination to be honest with his professors about his developing theology has paid off in new relationships and new ideas to explore.

“It was a little scary at times writing a paper that I knew a particular professor would disagree with. But their feedback was both constructive and affirming. The theological and cultural diversity of the faculty was beyond anything I had ever experienced. And my library has been completely rebuilt with a much wider array of voices.”

Because Pidcock has moved away from leading worship to focus on freelance writing and being a stay-at-home dad, he has sometimes felt disconnected from classmates who are employed at churches. Still, he says, “being in community with my fellow students has been so fun. Don’t tell the professors, but we have a private text chat that has been the source of much laughter as we process our classes together over the past three years. And I’ll miss them dearly.”

Following his studies at Northern, Pidcock will start a ten-week fellowship with Baptist News Global, where he has been writing on religion and culture for the past year. The new role will include “writing, dialogue, and reflection as well as meeting with notable religion writers for weekly seminars.” He’ll release a children’s book called What If? this fall and has plans for a few other books. “I’m also working on a new EP that I’ll be releasing under the artist name Provoke Wonder.” And he’ll have more time for homeschooling his five children.

While no longer leading worship in a church, Pidcock sees an important ministry in his writing as he seeks to help others explore theology and challenge harmful beliefs. “It can feel very lonely at times in exile from the worlds I once knew. But I’m learning to move into the loneliness through lament and curiosity to push toward wonder in coming home, being present, and reaching out in love wherever I am.”

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