John Ballenger serves as the pastor of Woodbrook Baptist Church (www.woodbrook.org ) in Baltimore, MD. Before coming to Woodbrook in 2003, he pastored Candler Park Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Before that, he served as Associate Pastor at Seventh & James Baptist Church in Waco, TX. Before that, he taught a year in Charleston, SC after waiting tables in Richmond, VA, having finished seminary convinced he would never work in a church!
John is a proud graduate of Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth, TX, where he earned his Doctor of Ministry in homiletics, of the University of Virginia, where he earned his B.A. in English and German Language and Literature, and of the American International School of Zurich. He’s proud of what the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master of Divinity, used to be.
He is married to a minister, and they, along with the community at Woodbrook, are attempting to raise two little ministers who bring it home on a regular basis just how amazing and just how amazingly annoying ministers can be!
… and now a few words about me in the first person:
I have a great sense of humor … according to me—crack myself up regularly.
I think deeply and sometimes relevantly … sometimes reverently.
I love words and, not infrequently, get lost in them.
I am most at ease with collaboration within clearly defined roles and responsibilities, but love being surprised by the collegial respect for giftedness that can transcend roles and responsibilities.
I love the Bible absolutely; I believe it essentially; I live it occasionally.
I believe in diving into it—immersing ourselves as faith community in it completely—celebrating our baptism in God’s good gift of grace and love from which we can then emerge, dripping, into a way of being being transformed.
I love the Bible for its surprises, its art, its beauty, for conveying and manifesting essential truth, not inessential facts.
I believe in the redeeming power of story—particularly the redeeming power of God’s story.
I celebrate creativity as a significant part of the image of God in us.
I lived in Switzerland as a youth, but learned a swiss form of wood carving in Texas.
I grew up skiing the Alps, but learned to parallel ski in North Carolina.
I lived in Charleston, SC, but came to love the low country visiting having already left.
I came to appreciate both drinking and cursing in seminary in Kentucky.
I have skiied in five countries and ten states, but experienced more blizzards and the greatest snowfall in Baltimore, MD.
I have moved fifteen times (three countries, seven states), but the last nineteen years I’ve lived in three places.
I wanted to be a Christian long before I was able to affirm my belief. As a preacher, I wonder if it should bother me more than it does that when it all finally came together for me, I was in church, but paying absolutely no attention to the sermon!
I celebrate the truth of Grady Nutt’s line about family that are friends and friends that are family.
I believe the verse about tasting and knowing that God is good refers to dark chocolate.
The people I want to learn most from are the parents whose grown children love them and include them in conversation and decision making.
While there’s plenty I regret, I wouldn’t change anything if it meant I wouldn’t end up who and where and how I am.
I’m more annoyed at the commercial telling me I should be annoyed at my lack of hair than I am at my lack of hair.
I believe the quality of my friends has been one of the most important factors in the development and maintenance of my self-esteem.
I confess to having looked down on people who play golf—especially preachers. This was before I started playing golf.
I believe God is redeeming creation and that we are either on the way with God or in the way of God.