In high school, Brian Goins’ English teacher had high hopes for his writing and encouraged him to pursue more training. But he didn’t. Later, his romantic interest in a girl, who had been an English major at his college, led him to write letters to her when she went to teach in Bangkok. She told him the only thing he had going for him in their relationship was his writing. When they finally got engaged, he wrote a book for her called Watered by Ink, in which he recounts how their relationship blossomed through correspondence.
But even with all of his writing experience and his current role overseeing writers as Insight for Living’s director of creative ministries, he sees himself primarily as a pastor who “happens to write.”
Brian studied church ministries while in college at Liberty University and then came to Dallas Seminary to pursue a Th.M. with a concentration in New Testament. It was toward the end of his seminary training that his wife Jennifer, who was pursuing a master of arts degree, told him that he needed to take Dr. Reg Grant’s creative writing course before he left seminary.
“I only had one elective left, and it really didn’t seem to fit into my degree plan,” he said, “but on her recommendation I did it.”
Brian enjoyed it so much that he went on to take advanced creative writing.
“Those were two of the best classes I’ve ever taken, and I had no idea the doors they would open for a future in ministry through writing.”
Dr. Grant encouraged both Brian and Jen to continue writing—he even gave Brian’s name to Grace Products and Insight for Living (IFL) as a possible candidate for writing positions. Although he did submit some writing samples and eventually did some freelance work for both of these organizations, he was still focused on pastoral work in a local church setting.
Not long after he graduated, he was accepted into the leadership program at Fellowship Bible Church of Littlerock, Arkansas. It was there that his vision for church ministry was solidified and his leadership gifts honed.
“I felt like I was Timothy with about five Pauls building into me week in and week out. It really confirmed who I am and who I am not.”
When he left the program, he fully intended to become a teaching pastor, and Brian and Jen planned to go to Montana and live with her parents while he found just the right fit. In the meantime, he took a freelance writing assignment for IFL. A representative of the ministry had continued to call and offer him a writing position, but Brian turned it down multiple times because he did not want a full-time writing job.
“I figured I’d be burned out in a year if I accepted that position.”
He and Jen ended up spending seven months in Montana waiting for the right pastoral position, which he admits he was a little picky about.
“After my training at Fellowship, I was a little spoiled. I knew exactly what I was looking for and didn’t want to step into a situation that would cause heartache because we didn’t see church the same way.”
So, he spent his time in a coffee shop in Montana drinking lattes and working on turning Dr. Swindoll’s sermons into a study guide.
And then 9-11 hit, which stopped most church hiring in its tracks. But IFL was still calling and now the representative was even offering to address his concerns about being a full-time writer.
“They said it would be more than that, but I would have to wait and see.”
So, Brian and Jen, along with their little girl Brantley, moved to Texas and he took a position as senior writer for IFL. Within a few months, the organization had created a department called creative ministries, bringing together all of the published pieces that IFL produces, including study guides, articles, prayer journals, calendars, and other resources. And Brian’s position changed to director of creative ministries.
“I find myself at a place I never expected—writing and directing.”
What really surprised him, though, is that he is using not only his writing and leadership skills, but also his pastoral gifts. When he first moved back to Dallas, he ran into a friend from the seminary who told him he was planning to start a church in the Frisco area.
“He asked if I’d like to be part of that, and I jumped at the chance.”
Now, Brian is a part of the leadership team, a team teacher, and a small group leader, together with his wife.
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.