Chapel Speaker

Listen to God, pastor urges

BLUFFTON, Ohio—Prayer is not a one-way conversation with God, according to Joel Shenk, pastor of Toledo Mennonite Church and minister in residence at Bluffton University Oct. 30 and 31.

Shenk, who had spoken at a Bluffton chapel service last year, gave an Oct. 31 message at chapel about learning to listen to God, becoming dependent on Him for strength and learning to follow boldly. “We need to cultivate the internal spirituality God gives us,” he said, “because if we are not in touch with this, we limit our connection to God.”

He practices contemplative prayer, which he said “is listening to God and allowing God to speak to your spirit rather than you speaking directly to Him.” Through this type of prayer, Shenk said we become aware of our dependency on God and recognize how He is active in the community, Scripture and all other things.

He was happy to deliver the chapel message because he sees Bluffton as “a place where the school keeps its Mennonite traditions and does so in a way that students can learn.”

Ministry was a place Shenk felt he belonged because he had participated in a church youth group as a teenager in Scottdale, Pa. He began to take his faith even more seriously during his undergraduate studies at Hesston College and Eastern Mennonite University, and he went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., in 2010.

Shenk has been the pastor for three years at Toledo Mennonite, where he said the members have a passion for service. The church offers an after-school tutoring program for early elementary children in math and reading and is affiliated with the Mennonite Church of Dodoma in Tanzania.