Missional Man Podcast
Tools for the modern Christian man.

Ep#011: John Onwuchekwa, Identity Formation & Theological Training

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Summary & Intro

john onwuchekwa

John Onwuchekwa – Christ-follower, husband of 7 years (wife Chandra), grew up in a Christian home, teaching pastor at Blueprint Church Atlanta, church planting pastor of a brand new church plant starting June 7, 2015 Cornerstone Church Atlanta, lover of basketball, wearing the same outfit everyday (booyah!), frequent conference speaker (Verge Network), part of the Rebuild Network of urban church planters and leaders, passion for the gospel, the word, the church and the mission.

Recap & Synopsis

Listen this week as John and I  discuss identity and theological training. What is the purpose and function of theological training and knowledge? I based this interview with John and topic on his video entitled “Identity Formation”. In that video, John “shares his burden for theological training with the goal of identity formation rather than information transfer.” We talk about the implications of identity formation and how they relate to discipleship, the church, the mission, identity crisis, modern American Christianity today and the importance of friends who hold us accountable to our beliefs.

*The following are my favorite top quotes from John and I. Use them freely and widely, but please offer credit where credit is due. Thanks.


Seems strange to share the dark side of a church plant but it’s helpful to bring in the reality of church planting as a beautiful mess. Its a beautiful reflection of the Christian life and how it’s not always tidy and well put together but it’s very messy. (Jonathan)

“Theological training is more about identity formation than it is about information transfer.” – John Onwuchekwa, Rebuild Network video

(JC) How did you come to that conclusion?

(JO) “I saw my heroes fail. It led me to become bitter and self-righteous. Then I went to seminary and saw myself fail. Bitterness and self-righteousness turned into self-pity and self-justification. I know more than I have at any other point in my life but my life looks worst then it did at any other point in my life. Now that I know so much, there’s something wrong with my heart. I’m using this knowledge I have to justify the disobedience.”

All this right truth becomes ammunition and a sinful heart to justify disobeying the things that God has very clearly outlined.

Church as a Greenhouse Analogy

The church kinda feels like a greenhouse for plants. So plants can grow outside of a greenhouse. But what a greenhouse does is it intensifies things that a plant would get out there on their own. But it guards them from things that would harm them outside on their own. Now a greenhouse still has bugs that come in, but it’s fewer. Same way a plant can still have sunshine hit it but its not as intensified. So God’s church is a greenhouse that intensifies the things that are good and mitigate that things that are bad.

Education has always been about identity formation. We know we are shaped by those around us. It’s all about who it is that shapes us or who we are becoming.

Knowledge is a means to an end. Never a destination. Always a pathway.

I don’t think I’m smart enough or courageous enough to deal with my own heart and to do it on my own. I don’t put a lot of trust and stock in myself solely.

I had a mentor that told me that “foes will stab you in the back but friends will stab you in the face”. I try to surround myself with guys who know me who aren’t afraid of or impressed with me or things I do.

I never read my Bible and walk away feeling as if, “I’m killin’ it.” I read it and am hit with the sense of “Lord if people knew what went on inside of my head and heart nobody would listen to things I have to say.”

Another Quote from Video: “Theological training must take place in the context of a church. A community of people who a) see who you are on the inside and then b) will hold you accountable to the truths that you particularly proclaim”. John Onwuchekwa, from his video on Identity Formation

“Theological training should be more fraternal that it is formal.” – Charles Spurgeon

People confuse awareness with comprehension. People can repeat the message of the Gospel with extreme clarity. But when you look at their lives, there’s not just sporadic fruit but no fruit of a transformed life.


Action Round (1 Take-away & 1 Action-Item)

1 TA (One take-away for YOU to think about)

Truth on the front end (implication): Jesus Christ had no obligation to save us from our sin. He came down and obligated Himself to give His life to meet our deepest need. He tells us that we should go and live the same way.

1 AI (One action-item for YOU to go do.)

Whatever church you are apart of, join that church. Don’t just sign up, but when you join a church you’re saying: “I’m formally obligating myself to meet the needs of the people here. Call me and ask me how I can serve. I’m here not just to get but to help give to the folks that are there. To meet the spiritual and physical needs.”


John on Twitter

John’s new church plant launching in Atlanta June 7, 2015 – Cornerstone Atlanta


Favorite Resource on this Topic

John’s video I referenced on “Identity Transformation”

Other Videos from Rebuild Network

Frank Smith, The Book of Learning and Forgetting

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