Originally published in the Midwestern Magazine, Issue 42
The strength of an educational institution can be judged by many criteria. One such criteria is the strength of its alumni. Pastor Corey O’Grady represents the strength of Midwestern’s expanding alumni network. After graduating from Midwestern Seminary, Corey and his family felt a call to pursue ministry in Europe, where he has been for eight years. Corey is now the lead pastor of Grace Church in Amsterdam and we are honored to feature him as this issue’s alumni highlight.
MBTS: Corey, you have been in Amsterdam for roughly eight years now and you have pastored Grace Church for four of those years. Tell us a bit about that endeavor.
Corey O’Grady: Upon arriving in Amsterdam, we ran a café with two other couples. My desire was always to pastor and plant churches, but we wanted to learn before we began to lead. Our years spent running the café taught us invaluable cultural lessons. In 2016, we began meeting in our home with a small group of people who desired to be part of a new church. Grace Church was officially launched in February 2017 with 17 members. Since that time, God has been so gracious and kind to our ministry. Currently, over 100 people from 30 countries gather with us for worship on Sundays, and we have plans to plant another church in the western part of our city.
MBTS: You graduated from Midwestern Seminary in 2012. What degree did you earn and how has your degree aided you in ministry?
CO: I graduated from Midwestern with a Master of Theological Studies degree. That program has aided me in two ways. First, it provided a general theological foundation. You cannot teach what you do not know. The MTS program helped me grow in theological knowledge and equipped me to teach others. Second, it taught me how to be a learner. Being an ongoing student of God’s Word, in formal or informal settings, is essential. My time at Midwestern taught me habits of learning which aid my ministry every day.
MBTS: This issue of Midwestern Magazine is focused on the important topic of missions. Why would you encourage those training for pastoral ministry to consider pursuing pastoral ministry in another country?
CO: While Christ is the great Shepherd, God has designed pastors to act as under-shepherds of his people. In Europe, specifically, there is a remnant of Christians who have been without a local church or pastoral care for decades. They are sheep without a local shepherd. Pastoring in that type of context aids not only the discipleship of existing Christians but strengthens the ability of those believers to live as light in areas filled with spiritual darkness.
MBTS: Having completed a graduate degree, what advice would you give to students currently at Midwestern or who are starting soon?
CO: My advice to current or potential students has more to do with heart assessment than homework assignments. While there are many good reasons to complete a theology degree, I believe two heart motives should be primary. Pursue a degree because it will help you know God more, and because it will prepare you to help others do the same. Simply put, getting a degree should be motivated by a heart that desires to obey the Great Commandment. Learn because you want to love God more and learn so you can love your neighbor by pointing them to the truth and beauty of God. All other purposes for pursuing a degree should hang on these two reasons.