Faculty Q and A with Tony Merida

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Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I am originally from Detroit, Mich., but I grew up in Kentucky. I went to college in New Orleans, La. where I played baseball and became a believer. During this time, I was called into ministry there. I attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to study under Jim Shaddix who is now on faculty with me at Southeastern.

I met my wife while working at a youth camp (she was a camp director, not a student). After four years of marriage, we went to adopt two kids from the Ukraine and came home with four. We now have four children from the Ukraine and one from Ethiopia.

In addition to teaching a SEBTS, I am the pastor of Imago Dei, a church plant in Raleigh, N.C. I love traveling, baseball and Kentucky basketball.

Q: How did you come to SEBTS?

A: My wife and I were looking to plant a church in a mid-sized city that had a future prospect of growth, like Raleigh. My wife loves the East Coast, so when Dr. Akin called me and asked if I’d be interested in teaching, it was a sweet marriage for us.

Q: When people ask you, “What do you do at Southeastern,” what is your response?

A: I have two main responsibilities: I teach Bible exposition and sermon delivery. I am in the Johnny Hunt Chair of Preaching at Southeastern alongside Dr. Akin and Dr. Shaddix.

I also get to teach church planting a couple of times of year, which I love.

Q: On what are you currently working?

A: Dr. Akin, David Platt, and I are co-editors of a new commentary series called “Christ-Centered Exposition.” We are editors and contributors, so I’m currently working on eight volumes for that series.

Also I’m working on a book about how to live out Micah 6:8, do justice and love mercy, every day.

Q: What have you been reading recently?

A: Over the holidays I read some fiction, which was great.

A few books that have impacted me recently are “A Dangerous Calling” by Paul Tripp, a few works on William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr. as I work on some justice projects.

Q: When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing?

A: Table time with our kids is important. Right now we are talking about Proverbs at dinner. Once the kids are down, I like hanging out with my wife. If there is a good basketball game on, I’ve been known to watch those too. I love cooking. Rick Warren once said, “Those who work with their minds should relax with their hands.” Cooking does that for me.

Q: Who are your role models?

A: Dr. Jim Shaddix really mentored me in seminary and shaped my convictions regarding preaching. Dr. Stan Norman was a mentor. Later, John Piper and Tim Keller were formative in my life. Recently, Rick Warren has shaped me as well. Dr. Akin has also been a great model for me.

Q: What has God been teaching you lately?

A: We minister best out of our communion with Christ—not out of our gifting or out of our efforts. You can do a lot of ministry in your own strength, but it can lead to burnout. A vibrant communion with Jesus spills over into ministry.

Q: Where are some of your former students?

A: Many of my former students are pastors, missionaries, church planters and pursuing further studies overseas. It’s hard to keep up with all of them, but the Lord is using them for His Kingdom.

Q: When a student completes your class, what do you want him or her to walk away with at the end of the semester?

A: As Dr. Shaddix says, I want them to know that “there is a difference between good stuff and God stuff.” We can say good things, but people need God’s Word, and we need to expound the Bible and exalt Jesus in our preaching—I hope my students leave understanding that.

Q: We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?

A: The heart of the Great Commission is making disciples, and we make disciples by teaching them. My preaching classes equip students to make disciples by teaching.

In church planting classes, I want to equip students to go and make disciples as the Great Commission says.

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