WHY OX TRACK?
The Ox Track exists to prepare men for senior leadership as pastors/elders/overseers in the life of Jesus’ church at Seven Mile Road and beyond.
Pastoring Jesus’ church is an intense and serious vocation, and so we ask any men who aspire to this work to begin exploring this call by giving a year of their lives to participating in our Ox Track. Since preparing a man to pastor is primarily about the shaping of his soul, the Ox Track is an intentionally relational endeavor. The year-long journey is taken together with a band of brothers who can love, instruct, encourage and correct each other. Prayer, Scripture, confession and conversation form the framework for our times together.
ABOUT THE NAME
The name Ox Track comes from the Biblical allusion that being a pastor is like being an ox: head down, heavy lifting, working hard, one day to look back and see a great harvest.
AREAS OF EMPHASIS IN THE TRACK
ASSESSING AND DEVELOPING CHARACTER
A potential pastor must be a man of the highest Christian character (“above reproach”) if he is to serve as an undershepherd to Jesus. The eternal significance of Jesus’ church and her mission demand nothing less. Christ obtained His flock with His own blood; it must to be cared for well. So Ox Track strongly emphasizes gospel-centered character assessment and development - the kind of deep, soul-level work that enables us to identify and work through any sinfulness that would potentially shipwreck a pastor and harm the church or its mission. Confession, accountability and gospel conversations are therefore an integral part of our year together.
FOSTERING RIGHT AFFECTIONS FOR JESUS’ PEOPLE
Pastoring is not an occupation, but a vocation that demands the full engagement of the pastor’s soul. It is a call to, like Jesus before us, give our lives for the sheep. Without such selfless, sacrificial love for the saints, a man is unqualified to serve as their shepherd. So Ox Track strongly emphasizes affectionate love for Jesus’ people.
INSTILLING SOUND PASTORAL THEOLOGY
To lead Jesus’ church well necessitates having a mature grasp of Jesus’ truth. If a man is going preach, teach, admonish, encourage, evangelize and lead well, he must be theologically sound. While participation in Ox Track assumes a certain level of previous theological training, Ox Track emphasizes pastoral theology, mining deeply the places where Biblical theology intersects with pastoral leadership in the church. Our hope here is for each man to emerge with a strong foundation of what Scripture calls pastors to and how Scripture shapes that work.
SHARING HANDS-ON DISCIPLE-MAKING MINISTRY
Pastoring in a gospel-centered, missional church is difficult, frustrating, exhausting and spiritual work that requires humility, diligence, creativity and a certain level of stubborn resiliency. You must be willing to swing an axe - and keep swinging. Since there is no substitute for getting your hands dirty in the trenches, Ox Track provides the opportunity to experience the grass roots nature of team-based, disciple-making ministry in a specific local church context.
We are going to share our stories, sins, hopes, dreams, all of it, freely. We will not hesitate to be honest with our struggles, behaviors, doubts and questions. We are inviting each other into our lives intimately, as we really are. This is not a game.
Because of the above, we are promising strict confidentiality to each other with all information shared in the context of the Track. We are men, and being in the Track means being for each other. That trust cannot be broken.
Attendance at all three overnights is mandatory, as is attendance at the monthly sessions. We will obviously give leeway for extenuating circumstances, but we expect everyone to be there every time unless something big interferes.
There is a measure of reading associated with this Track, and we expect each man to have worked through any readings and/or other preparation material that is assigned. Since gospel conversations will be embedded in each session, we also expect each of us to come prepared to walk through their previous month with clarity and focus.
SELECTION CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPANTS
MINIMUM CRITERIA FOR APPLICATION TO OX TRACK
Candidates for participation in Ox Track must be men who are members-in-good-standing of a local Seven Mile Road unless a special situation is pre-approved, i.e. someone coming to us from another gospel-centered church or living geographically outside the Seven Mile Road radius.
Candidates will complete an Ox Track application which will be reviewed based on the following criteria.
Health of Marriage and Family
Track Record of Humble Service
Ability to Articulate Internal Call
Trajectory of Life/Ministry
Track Record of Making Disciples
Natural And Spiritual Gifting/Capacity
Personal Readiness for Participation
1. PARTICIPATION IN 3 OVERNIGHT INTENSIVES
There is nothing like getting away from the busyness of our lives and ubiquity of our screens for some guarded, dedicated time of prayer, Word, gospel conversation and reflection. These overnights are designed to give us an environment with ample time to engage in some of the deeper talks necessary in this process.
Overnight topics will include:
Overnight 1: The Calling
Overnight 2: The Qualifications
Overnight 3: The Motivation
Dates: traditionally July, November, May
2. PARTICIPATION IN 9 MONTHLIES
We gather monthly to press into two distinct exercises together. The first is gospel conversation. Each night begins with a time of conversation and confession of the last month’s fight of sin and following of Christ. The second is pastoral/theological conversation. Each night we’ll have a topic to work through. Reading and questions to consider will be assigned beforehand.
Dates: traditionally Sunday nights, unless Track finds a more beneficial time-slot by consensus
3. PARTICIPATION IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH
This will include including specific disciple-making ministry of some sort as worked about between Pastoral Team and Track participants, as well as observation of/participation in the general oversight of the life of the church. This trenches work is where gifting is surfaced and where trackers learn the grassroots nature of gospel-centered, missional church leadership.