While the online nature of the program allows Vaughn to pursue the degree from a number of places, the Josts decided a break from their ministry was necessary for academic success.
?We feel like we need to take a break from full-time ministry to pursue the schooling, knowing that if we didn?t step away from ministry, we wouldn?t be able to give the kind of time and energy to schooling that we want to,? Vaughn said.
Ripe for harvest
Vaughn will work toward a master?s degree in ministry leadership, which he described as a ?practical ministry degree.?
The degree works at understanding and addressing issues that are present in upcoming generations, something Vaughn is passionate about.
?We feel like in the last several years my passion for the church has grown and my sense of almost a missionary calling, but to our own culture,? Vaughn said. ?We?ve always had a heart for outreach, and recognized that during this time in history, North America is a mission field.
?So there?s that passion we feel God laid on our heart that grew and grew. We started trying to figure out what we needed to do to be faithful to that.?
Vaughn said George Fox recognizes North America as ?ripe for harvest.?
?North America is a mission field and people are very hungry for spiritual things right now?and yet more and more people are leaving the church in spite of their spiritual hunger,? Vaughn said.
?The church has to figure out how to bridge the gap to our culture, and it?s a real challenge. This degree program is asking a lot of the right questions about how we go about bridging that gap.?
By participating in a year-old church plant, Vaughn hopes to learn by practical experience as he pursues his academic degree.
?We wanted to still have a foot in the MB world and to have our foot in an actual, practical ministry situation to keep us grounded while we?re doing work and talking about theories,? Vaughn said.
Taryn said the church plant is an example of a church body ?carrying things out a bit differently than we are.?
?The church-plant situation is another learning experience for us,? she said.
Following God?s lead
The process leading to the Josts? decision to was gradual.
?We weren?t looking to leave,? Taryn said. ?It seems like God has really been developing this passion in Vaughn for the last couple of years. And then to come across this program that seemed very much to be processing those same questions, just seemed like maybe this was the next step.?
Even so, the decision to move wasn?t easy, they said.
?This has really been a stretching faith experience for us,? Vaughn said, ?but it?s been a great one, in terms of teaching us to lean more heavily on God and to learn more about what it means to take steps of faith.?
The Josts said one way their decision was confirmed was when they sold their house before placing it on the market.
?(God) sold our house before we even put a sign in the yard,? Taryn said. ?We were getting ready to put it on the market, and then it was being contracted. That felt really big.?
Life of discomfort
While the Josts feel certain the decision to move and attend school is the right one, not everything has fallen into place yet. They are still looking for housing and for part-time jobs in Colorado.
?We?re looking forward to seeing God bring it to completion, and yet realize we?re definitely going into a season of time that walking in faith isn?t going to be over when we get there,? Taryn said. ?It?s going to be probably a daily thing for us?not that it ever ends, but it?s pretty intensified right now.?
The Josts said they realize that some people will think the move is foolish.
?Someone told me the other day, security is an illusion,? Vaughn said. ?We all want security and comfort, yet we never know when tragedy will strike?we?re watching tornados wipe out towns around us.?
Added Taryn: ?This whole experience, spiritually, is worth giving up some materialistic security in the way it?s challenged us.
?Along with that, we want our girls to be familiar with a way of life that isn?t revolving around security. That?s not what it?s about for us. God?s will doesn?t always seem like the safest thing maybe, but it is the right thing, and it?s the best thing.?
The Josts are confident God will meet their needs.
?We don?t think every day ahead of us will be easy, but there?s no place we?d rather be than in the middle of God?s will,? Vaughn said.
Love for the community
Both Vaughn and Taryn grew up in Hillsboro, attended local churches and Tabor College.
?We are incredibly thankful for this community and all that it?s provided for us and for our kids?the school system and the people,? Vaughn said. ?We?re really thankful for everything Hillsboro has given to us, and that Ebenfeld has given to us.?