This semester, we continue to spotlight Western Seminary’s faculty members. Today, we feature Chad Hall, Director of Coaching.
Transformed: Tell us a little bit about your family, and where you grew up.
Chad Hall: I grew up in Granite Falls, NC, which is a small town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m the younger of two children, and all of my extended family was within a 30-minute drive of one another. I married my wife, Holly, in 1993. We’ve moved around a lot over the years, but we returned to our home area a couple of years ago. We have three school-aged children who keep us busy and grateful.
Transformed: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Chad Hall: The people I admired as a kid were leaders and coaches, people like Dean Smith, Tom Landry, Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King, Jr. I never really aspired to a certain occupation, but I did have leanings toward some kind of vocation that inspired and influenced others to be part of something great.
Transformed: What is something that we would be surprised to know about you?
Chad Hall: I find echo chambers boring and harmful. I really like the places of tension and paradox that make room for seemingly competing aspects of an issue. I’m quite conservative both theologically and politically, but I love to befriend and embrace people who see things differently, vote differently, and approach major issues differently.
Transformed: If you could meet one person, dead or living, who would it be (not someone from the Bible)?
Chad Hall: I would love to meet my grandfather, who died when I was five years old. I have only the faintest memories of him and I’d cherish a long afternoon talking with him about his life, and how he experienced the world as it changed from his childhood in the 1890s until he passed in 1975.
Transformed: What are you reading right now?
Chad Hall: I’m doing research for a book on positive psychology, so I think I’ve read everything ever published on happiness and well-being. In the past couple of months, my just-for-fun bookshelf has included Garry Disher’s Wyatt series and Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series.
Transformed: Is there a verse or passage of Scripture that has had a particularly strong impact on your life? If so what is it, and in what way has it impacted you?
Chad Hall: Through the years, I have found Genesis 1:27 to greatly influence how I see myself and others. Beneath all of our failures, sins, shortcomings and ungodliness is a deep and dangerous truth that God has created us in his image. There’s a great mystery to that verse and also a great invitation.
Transformed: In your opinion, what does the church need more of and less of?
Chad Hall: The church needs less razzle dazzle, less celebrity, and less love for all things big and glitzy. We also need less greeting card theology. I think we need more leaders who are down-to-earth, pack your lunch and go to work types who are committed to loving and serving a body of believers in a local setting and for the long haul.
Transformed: Tell us a little bit about what led you to your current position.
Chad Hall: Before coming to Western, I had served as a pastor, church planter and as a consultant with a large denomination. Along the way, I was trained as a coach and began to see coaching as a major aspect of what God was calling me to do. I first started teaching at Western as an adjunct while working as an internal coach for a software company. I was blowing through all of my vacation days flying to the West Coast to teach, and I loved it. In 2008, Western invited me to join the faculty as Director for the coaching program, and I came on board in 2009.
Transformed: Do you have a favorite scholar, or someone whose work has inspired you?
Chad Hall: I’m always inspired by thinkers who ask tough and interesting questions and then apply the narrative of scripture intelligently and in an unflinching manner. One such person is Lesslie Newbigin, who influenced me to recognize the gospel must be contextualized, but also how culturally trapped Christianity can become.
Transformed: What would you like to see more of in your students?
Chad Hall: I like what I see in most of the students I teach. They make great sacrifices to grow the character and develop the competencies needed to serve the church well. If there’s anything I’d like to see more of it would be a commitment to put life on hold just a bit while starting their education. I fear that the juggling of priorities and responsibilities I see in many students will become a long-term aspect of how they approach life, which will shortchange them and those around them. Sometimes you just have to say “No” to some things for a while in order to say “Yes” really well.
Transformed: One piece of advice to incoming seminarians?
Chad Hall: Focus on learning, not grades. At their best, grades indicate how much learning has occurred, but that’s not always the case. At their worst, grades can be a distraction and a source of pride or shame. Also, see assignments not as hoops to jump through or even primarily as a way to prove what you know; instead, treat them as a means by which you learn, grow and develop.
Transformed: What theological topics need more attention? Are there any doctrines that have been ignored in the recent past, and could benefit from more exposure or exploration?
Chad Hall: I have seen much needed growing attention to the peculiarity of the gospel and the church, especially in America where citizenship and Christianity have too often been muddled. Theologians as diverse as Stanley Hauerwas, Tim Keller, and Russell Moore are (each in his own way) helping us recognize that the church must be intentionally other than the prevailing culture.
Transformed: What’s your favorite thing about working at Western?
Chad Hall: I love the interaction with the students, hearing their stories and being a part of the story God is writing in each life. I also appreciate the variety of work that my role requires: from developing and teaching courses, to recruiting and managing adjunct faculty, to marketing and project management. It’s never the same thing two days in a row.
Transformed: Do you have any upcoming books or articles?
Chad Hall: I’ve completed about a third of a book that explores what Scripture, science and simple wisdom have to say about human happiness. It’s a labor of love, but recently its felt like more labor than love.
Transformed: Is there anything else that we should know about you, or projects that you are currently involved in?
Chad Hall: In addition to my role with Western, I serve as the President of Coach Approach Ministries, which is a ministry that coaches and trains Christian leaders. I’m also actively involved in my home congregation, Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, NC, where I teach an adult Sunday school class.