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EU and AGTS Alumni Perspective: John Davidson

Name: John Davidson

Graduation Year: EU 2001, AGTS 2008, AGTS 2015

Major: EU – Biblical Studies, AGTS – MATS, AGTS – Ph.D. ICS

Current Position: Director – Alliance for Assemblies of God Higher Education AND Director of Discovery and Development at the Church Multiplication Network

City and State: Springfield MO

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

I started serving in local church ministry when I was a 19-year-old junior at EU. I served as a youth pastor, and later as an associate pastor, at First Assembly in Bolivar, MO and New Life Church in Oak Grove, MO. After earning my master’s degree from AGTS, I accepted a position leading The Oaks School of Leadership, a collaborative ministry training partnership between The Oaks Fellowship and Southwestern Assemblies of God University. During my years at The Oaks, I served on the teaching team and taught at SAGU. Those years were incredible. We helped train and equip hundreds of young people for ministry in missions, local church ministry, and church planting. Three years ago, I accepted an invitation to serve the Assemblies of God fellowship by recruiting, training and resourcing AG church planters. In early 2017, I was asked to add oversight of the Alliance for AG Higher Education. Each role has been so beneficial to my growth and development and has allowed me to see God at work throughout our churches and educational institutions.

What is your favorite memory from AGTS?

My favorite memory comes from one of my most difficult moments. During the research and writing of my Ph.D. dissertation, there were so many times when I didn’t know if I could finish. The enormity of the work was overwhelming and there were times I couldn’t see a way forward. It was then that the AGTS faculty team came alongside me in an even stronger way, encouraging me and helping me to finish strong. It’s supposed to be hard, but the AGTS faculty made it possible to be successful. 

How did AGTS help you identify/develop your calling?

It was during my Ph.D. courses that God spoke to me clearly about the future direction of my life and ministry. The more I studied missiology, the more desperate I became to find answers to questions the Church faces about how to reach the world with the gospel. That desperation gave birth to new ideas, fleshed out in my research and writing, that changed the trajectory of my life’s work and ministry.

How did your experience at AGTS prepare you for life after graduation?

In many ways, my selected degree program at AGTS didn’t make sense. Most in my cohort were missionaries, I was pastoring in a local church. Most were serving in other countries, while I was in the U.S. On top of that, I had no formal academic background in missiology or intercultural studies. God saw what I couldn’t see. My studies prepared me to hit the ground running in a new role immediately after graduation, a role that combined the exact two areas I’d studied – church planting and education. My education at AGTS was immediately applicable and has opened doors for me to contribute to Kingdom work in ways not possible before my AGTS experience. 

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Obviously, you have to strive for academic success, especially when it’s challenging. Excellence in academic work prepares you well for excellence in your job. Being a student, though, is so much more than an education and a degree. One of the most important things students can do now that will benefit them later is to build strong relationships with fellow students, faculty and staff, and others in the community. Success in life and ministry is often a combination of what you know and who you know. School is an opportunity to grow in both of these areas. Doing the work of building relationships now will lead to future opportunities, opening doors for you that you could never have opened on your own. 

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from AGTS?

I’ve been fortunate to be in a position to hire multiple AGTS graduates. I want someone who displays academic excellence. In addition, I want to see a track record of leadership and initiative displayed in work with the community, active employment, and service to a local church. I want to hire someone who isn’t waiting until he or she graduates to fulfill his or her calling. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So, if I can see that the person is already served faithfully and fruitfully as a student, it gives me confidence that he or she will continue to excel as an employee.