Important Announcement from Bruce Ashford

(Administrator’s note: For posterity’s sake, we thought it was a good idea to add a disclaimer that this is an April Fool’s Day joke. We don’t want future readers who may come across this post to conclude otherwise.)

Dear Readers,

Southeastern Seminary has been a key part of my life for about fifteen years. With the exception of a two year stint overseas, I have been a student, professor, and administrator at SEBTS for most of my adult life. It has been a good ride. But like all good things, it must come to an end.

Last week I tendered my resignation to President Akin, effective June 30. Though I love teaching, I have long felt that I am neglecting my primary calling. The Lord has given me a gift, and I can no longer hide it under a bushel. Beginning July 1, I am launching a new ministry called Missional Yodeling. My hope and prayer is that this ministry will help impact one of the unreached and underserved people groups in America-yodelers.

I’ve struggled with this calling for years. For a time I thought about leaving SEBTS to become a gospel mime, but the Holy Spirit simply refused to move through my fingers. It’s all the same; when I met with my pastor, J. D. Greear, he advised me not to go the miming route because “mimes are creepy.” Frankly, I think the advice says more about J. D.’s neuroses than the practice of miming itself, but I usually take my pastor’s advice. I also batted around the idea of asking Alvin Reid if I could travel around with him and play the electric organ in his worship band, but figured he’d tell me that would be too much like a comeback of the 1950s SBC for his tastes.

Most of my Between the Times colleagues have taken the news pretty well. Dr. Akin was disappointed, but he confided that he too has the spiritual gift of yodeling and wrestles with the same calling. (I already suspected this-yodelers can sense the gift in others.) Ed Stetzer asked if I’d coauthor a pair of books with him on Missional Yodeling and Comeback Yodeling. David Nelson told me that yodeling was fine for evangelistic purposes, but I shouldn’t do it in a worship service because it would remind some worshipers of being in the Switzerland section at Epcot Center. Ken Keathley warned me that some would mock my gift, but I shouldn’t shrink back because God has sovereignly willed a world where I would freely choose to become a yodeler. Nathan Finn said he really wasn’t that surprised with my decision, though he did make some crack about lederhosen and Ricola. Then he asked if he could have all my books, since “yodelers are like recreation ministers and don’t need any books.”

I covet your prayers as I transition to this strategic, Great Commission ministry. For those of you who, like my wife and parents, are worried that I will not be able to support my family during this transition, please know that I do have a back-up plan. I have a standing offer from Heidi and the Yodelers to join their crime-fighting team if my ministry falls through.

If any of you would like to have me come and talk about Missional Yodeling at your church, small group, or Kiwanis Club, just leave a comment on this post.


Bruce Riley Ashford

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  1. Bruce Ashford   •  

    To the “administrator” at BtT: You people are funny!

  2. don gale   •  

    mmm…seems like a bold financial move. We were actually going with a yodeling theme this summer for VBS. Could you come speak and/or yodel? To whom should I address my donation check?

  3. Greg Mathias   •  

    Yodelaheehoo…Bruce, I’m sure you can correct my spelling on this. What a gift (?) you have. I’m just sad that SEBTS won’t be a part of it.

  4. Jeremy Rose   •  

    THAT’S funny. You had me until the 7th sentence. Wow.

  5. Gabe   •  

    Bruce, I am so glad you have embraced this next step in your Journey. My question is whether or not it will be traditional Reform yodeling or Emergent Yodeling? I am sure the Lord will bless your yodeling ministry.

  6. wlh   •  

    It’s about time! Yodelayeehoo!

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  8. Michael DeBusk   •  

    Gotcha. There is no Switzerland section at EPCOT.

  9. JOhn   •  

    I commend you on following the call to serve this vastly under-served mission field. In the spirit of your announcement, I call upon the GCR Task Force to address this inequality by recommending a new academic concentration in SBC seminaries: A Masters Degree in Missiology with a specialization in yodeling.

    Lord help us all if they take me seriously…

  10. micus-dc   •  

    Just want encourage you as you pursue this calling . . . few understood the greats. Elijah. John the Baptist. St. Francis of Assisi. Martin Luther. Lottie Moon. Carman. (Sorry, but this list just ain’t gonna get much better.) All written off as extremists at best and mad at worst.

    I have a friend who yodeled Dr. Piper’s sermons in an effort to bring Christian Hedonism to the Alps . . . alas, the hyphenated words became too much for him and he quit.

    I ask your prayer as a pursue my own calling . . . Gospel cross-stitch. Story-boarding and other artistic presentations, while often effective and demonstrating great creativity, have become so cliché. And like you, I hear the doubters. “The materials will cost too much.” “People won’t buy a man doing cross-stitch.” “The children just won’t sit for eleven hours to hear a gospel presentation.”

    I look forward to a possible partnership . . . I long to one day stitch in Bavaria, and hope to do so as you yodel the great message of truth to the nations from the, uh, Summit of the Bavarian Alps. Godspeed-eh-ley-hoo . . .

  11. alvin reid   •  

    From this day forward no one can mock me for having a snake. :-) this makes me feel almost normal.

  12. Kathleen   •  

    not funny—-not funny at all

  13. Steve Schenewerk   •  

    Wow. A tremendous loss for SEBTS but a gain for a unique culture and an underserved people group. Perhaps God is calling me to leave my position as pastor and serve those who schedule and attend meetings (i.e.local, state and fe gov’t employee’s; seminary administrator’s; denominational leaders…just thinking about this underserved group gets me all excited! :(

  14. Seth Fitzgerald   •  

    I’ll talk to the higher ups here at Liberty. Maybe we can get you a performance in convocation and you’ll have a chance to recruit others with the yodeling call.

  15. Tom Jaski   •  

    As a cessationist, I thought gift of yodeling died with the apostles. May have to rethink my theology.

  16. maston jackson   •  

    i knew it! i knew tht i wadnt the onliest one i wanna sine up to do it with yuns

  17. Ed Stetzer   •  

    Suddenly, missional seems so wrong.


  18. Carol Dale   •  

    Happy April Fools’ Day to you, too! Was reading this with dismay to Tim and then realized your fun. Thanks for the smile. Hope to see you at the BOV meeting.

  19. Hal Hunter   •  

    If I were a betting man (Baptists don’t gamble) I would bet Ed Stetzer had a hand in this. Just sayin’.

  20. administrator   •     Author

    Ed Stetzer didn’t have a hand in this. It was the administrator(s). Just sayin’.

  21. Bruce Ashford   •  

    Dear administrator, the “administrator” is merely a shell sign-in that could have been taken advantage by any of you funny people. Just sayin’.

  22. Bob Cleveland   •  

    I don’t give a whit, man. Not even a slim one.


  23. Joshua Owens   •  

    Congrats on your new ministry, Dr. Ashford! When do you open for booking—maybe you could give a concert to our Church Ministries School ;-)

  24. Dave Miller   •  

    I’m slipping. It took me a couple of seconds to figure this one out.

  25. Roger Simpson   •  

    Yodeling will not pass muster in Baptist Circles. It is too charismatic.

    I suggest you take up Gregorian Chanting instead. As Dr. Dockery would say, “The thematic material in the chants is more solidly based upon theological bedrock anchored upon propositional truth!” By comparison, yodeling is only one step away from the shallow carnival atmosphere typified by TV evangelists.

    Also, yodelers require huge wooden horns which are ten feet long. In addition, they need brown cows with big bells. All this paraphnalia is too expensive to haul around to your gigs. Last time I checked Liberty will not allow cows in their chapel. However, they do not have a prohibition against plain cappachino type robes.

    Have you “counted the cost” as you make this life transition?

  26. April   •  

    This is why I love being a student @ SEBTS.

  27. Morris Brooks   •  

    As long as you don’t do the Polka along with it you should be fine.

  28. Jason Lewis   •  

    I agree with Kathleen. Not funny at all. :)

  29. Amy   •  

    If I were a betting man (Baptists don’t gamble) I would bet Ed Stetzer had a hand in this. Just sayin’.

  30. Michelle   •  

    Ed Stetzer didn’t have a hand in this. It was the administrator(s). Just sayin’.

  31. M. Steve Heartsill   •  

    Are you also saving up for a jet to travel to your venues? You know…can’t have a superstar ministry like this and travel with the common folks…

  32. Bob Allen   •  

    Glad you considered following your convictions, your calling, and your craft. However, since it’s now 5 years later, clearly, you have been disobedient to the call.

    I’m sure D Akin would miss you, but, hey, you’d just be a shout away.

    I have wondered if yodeling could be an effective strategy for reaching the unengaged Alpine Congolese. Perhaps you could come to East Africa for 6 months — at your own expense, of course — for an extended vision trip in the Rwenzori Mountains (lederhosen optional). After all, since you have denied your true calling for at least 5 years, a 2 week trip would not be penance enough. The extended trip would give you an opportunity not only to hone your craft at a higher altitude (up to 16,761 ft) than Wake Forest, but also to see how effective yodeling might be in calming the sometimes murderous raging of the rebels. It would be relatively safe for you as I understand that yodeling carries across valleys quite well, so you could yodel from a distance where bullets couldn’t reach you.

    Anyway, give me a shout to let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’ll work on a herd of mountain goats to keep you company.

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