When Sam Lofton’s ‘father in the ministry’ asked the one-time comedy writer when he was going to get a seminary degree, Lofton quipped, “I have enough degrees to be a thermometer.” After a chuckle and then a serious look, the quick-witted elder responded, “but they’re not the degrees for ministering to God’s people in this day and in this social climate.”
The response struck a chord in the lifelong learner, and soon Lofton found himself moving to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute to earn his fifth post-graduate degree – a Master of Divinity. This May, he receives his Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. “After earning the master’s, I wanted to broaden my theological perspective even more,” said Lofton who served for 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. “I was inspired and encouraged by my pastor, Rev. Andrew Singleton, Jr., M.Div. ’02; mentor, Dr. Ozzie Smith, Jr., M.Div. ’93; and McCormick’s admissions director, Rev. Veronica Johnson, M.Div. ’12. I also had the opportunity to hear members of McCormick’s faculty speak, such as Dr. David Daniels and Dr. Reggie Williams, and I felt that McCormick would offer me a very different perspective on the religious landscape in which we are now called to serve. For me, it has always been important to be exposed to more than what I have learned previously.”
Once at McCormick, Lofton found it wasn’t only the faculty who would inform his thinking, it would also be his fellow students. “It’s about collaborative learning,” said Lofton of the McCormick experience. “You have to study biblical texts, and write papers and do research, but the stuff that you remember…the stuff that really informs and shapes your thinking are the examples of different ways to offer ministry in different contexts. At McCormick, you have all these different spiritual mindsets working together and learning together and fellowshipping together. You experience that it can be done. You now have an informed viewpoint, not only about your perspective, but also about where others in the body of Christ are coming from. You now have an appreciation for the various views across the spiritual landscape that God has painted.”
As pastor of the Men’s Ministry at Victory Apostolic Church, Lofton finds himself in conversation with men eager to know more about the gospel and how it can be lived out in their lives. Most Thursday nights, you can find him gathered with 60 or more men, building relationships and supporting each other on their spiritual journeys. “McCormick gave me some additional tools to minister to the brothers so that we can be agents of change in our homes, our communities and our church,” said Lofton. “The transformative power that comes from building trust and sharing our lives authentically is one of the things I hope to bring to those I serve.” And, perhaps, the former comedy writer will also use his sense of humor and passion for learning as tools for motivating others to further their education and prepare themselves to share the joy of serving others.