This semester, we continue to spotlight Western Seminary’s faculty members. Today, we feature Dr. Ron Marrs, Assistant Professor of Youth and Pastoral Ministries.
Transformed: Tell us a little bit about your family, and where you grew up.
Dr. Marrs: I grew up in a Christian home in Portland, and was the oldest of six children. I went to grade school and high school in Portland, and I played football, baseball, and tennis. I also played trumpet from age 10 through 18, and was in the high school orchestra.
Transformed: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Dr. Marrs: I went to college to be a high school teacher (math, computer science) and coach (basketball, baseball, football, or tennis).
Transformed: What is something that we would be surprised to know about you?
Dr. Marrs: I love all kinds of music: classical, gospel, jazz, country, pop, rock, and folk!
Transformed: What are some of your favorites things – such as your favorite preacher, movie, musical artists, book, author, type of food, and restaurant here in Portland?
Preacher: In the past Chuck Swindoll, and in the present Michael Lawrence
Movie: The Hiding Place
Bands/groups: Peter, Paul and Mary, and Simon and Garfunkel
Book: Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Authors (secular): Wendell Berry and Wallace Stegner – I collect their books
Restaurant: Burgerville (if you can call it a restaurant)
Transformed: What are you reading right now?
Dr. Marrs: I just finished reading Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle; Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos; Blessed are the Peacemakers by Wendell Berry; Youth ministry in the 21st Century edited by Chap Clark; The Truth about Trust by David DeSteno; Unlikely by Kevin Palau; and Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World by Brock Morgan. I am now reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown; For the Love of God, Part 1 by D.A. Carson; and God’s Super-Apostles by R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec.
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?
Dr. Marrs: Isaiah 55:8, 9. This has helped me live with life circumstances that were and are difficult and impossible to understand.
Transformed: What, ideally, should be the relationship between the seminary and the church?
Dr. Marrs: It should involve a genuine collaboration utilizing one another’s strengths.
Transformed: What does the church need more of/less of?
Dr. Marrs: It needs more Christ-followers transformed by the Word, Spirit and community, leading to many people coming to Christ. It needs less leaders motivated by hubris.
Transformed: Tell us a little bit about what led you to your current position.
Dr. Marrs: I was asked to come to Western Seminary to administrate a grant for high school students being involved in theological education and to start a youth ministry major.
Transformed: Do you have a favorite scholar, or someone whose work has inspired you?
Dr. Marrs: I have been inspired by the work of Dallas Willard.
Transformed: What is one thing you wish people knew about the life of a seminary faculty member?
Dr. Marrs: It is filled with the joy of engaging Christian learners with eternal matters.
Transformed: What makes for a model/ideal student – what do you wish you saw more of in your students?
Dr. Marrs: Model students are characterized by an eagerness to learn from a variety of sources (books, lectures, others, experience), and then put into ministry practice that which they have learned.
Transformed: What is one piece of advice that you would give to incoming seminarians?
Dr. Marrs: Don’t neglect your personal intimacy with God.
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?
Dr. Marrs: Vocation and call with the theology of work.
Transformed: Is there anything else that we should know about you, or projects that you are currently involved in?
Dr. Marrs: I lead the Portland Youth Workers Network. Also, I am the Director of the Kairos Program, which is collaboration between Western Seminary and Corban University. In this program, a student can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry and a Master of Divinity in five years. So I teach at both Western and Corban.
Transformed: What is your favorite thing about working at Western?
Dr. Marrs: My favorite thing is being in the midst of students and colleagues who love to engage in serious thinking about the Word and life.