John Cornish

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

My childhood in the ATI/IFB world

In General, Life, Spiritual Issues on April 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm

For a pdf of this article, click here:


What I share in this story is something that I have never shared with anyone in its entirety except my wife. Some of you will know bits and pieces of this story, and some of you will recognize yourselves in it. I am not going to share names of friends and associates in the ATI/IFB world because it is not my intention to hurt anyone. I’m not angry with anyone, and I only desire to share a little of my spiritual journey. Also, my mother and father know that I am sharing this, and that I have no animosity or anger towards them because of choices that they made. All things do indeed work together for good.

The writing of this story is triggered by a series of events that have taken place in the past week of my life. The ATI/IFB world is something that I have thought very little about in the past 5 years or so. I have moved on with my life and career as a professional musician and minister, and I have put the past behind me. For those of you that don’t know, ABC news ran a story on 20/20 last Friday (4/8/2011) about a branch of the Baptist denomination called the Independent Fundamental Baptists. It stirred up a great deal of emotion for me, and brought back a lot of emotions that I hadn’t dealt with in years.

I initially shared the broadcast on my Facebook page with the intention of stimulating conversation…which it definitely did. However, much of the discussion was about the actual cases of abuse mentioned on the program, which wasn’t my goal at all. Abuse happens in many churches in different ways. My goal rather, was to provoke discussion about the mindsets that could lead to such behavior. After thinking it through, I realized that the sharing of my story would probably be the most effective way of communicating my concerns.


I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church (my father was a minister), but was homeschooled from Kindergarten through 12th grade using curriculum written entirely by members of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church. Our basic curriculum (math, English) came mostly from institutions such as Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian College (A Beka books), which are two IFB colleges. The other major portion of our curriculum came from a man named Bill Gothard, who led a homeschooling organization called ATI, which stands for the Advanced Training Institute. While not an official IFB organization, a lot of ATI members were IFB members as well, and there are entire IFB churches which consist primarily of ATI members. In the years I spent officially working with ATI, we were bused to IFB churches on Sundays. Many of the books we were told to read were written by key IFB leaders, and numerous IFB leaders came to speak at ATI events. To be in ATI usually meant that you were in IFB, however most IFB members are not in ATI. The typical non-ATI IFB education consists of attendance at private Christian schools, usually associated with whatever church one attends, followed by attendance at one of the major IFB institutions. Read the rest of this entry »


So, what’s been happening?

In General, Life on March 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm

At last post, I shared some of the challenges of this coming year. I then immediately proceeded to get swallowed up by said challenges. I am climbing out of the abyss of business to just share a few random thoughts and happenings that have taken place since then.

  • School has been a busy time, but very rewarding. Although the class load has been daunting, there have been a number of exciting opportunities come my way, such as…
    • I was given the opportunity to conduct the Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale and Southwestern Orchestra at our annual gala concert in the premiere of my composition, Abide with Me. It was a thrilling moment in my life, as not only was it my first opportunity to premiere a work in such a setting, but it was also my first opportunity to conduct an orchestra composed of professional musicians. The performance went very well, and many compliments were given by professors, peers, and other important guests, including…
    • Steve Green. Steve was one of the musicians whose ministry has really inspired me over the years, and I had the privilege of hosting him for nearly three days at SWBTS prior to his performance at the gala concert. After spending a considerable amount of time with him, I can honestly say that I have even more respect for him now. He is the real deal, on and off the stage.
    • Another exciting opportunity has been the chance to lead chapel at SWBTS. Per the request of some of the leadership on campus, I have had the opportunity to lead approximately 1,000 of our students and faculty in worship several times this year. There is nothing more thrilling than leading so many people in what has become a passionate, spirit-filled time of worship. This has indeed been a great joy.
    • Teaching has been fun, as well. Although my conducting class has a smaller-than-usual group of three students, we’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of adapting my teaching style to a smaller setting. That, and there is MUCH less grading to be done!
  • Church ministry has had its ups and downs, but I am really starting to sense a revival of worship in the Oak View congregation. This has been something I have been praying for since I arrived at Oak View two years ago, and I am finally starting to see the results. Please continue to pray for my church as I lead them.
  • Being a hubby and daddy is as fun as ever. There’s nothing like coming home to a two-year-old screaming “daddy, daddy, daddy!” Rashel and I are still expecting baby Cameron in June, when the fun is only going to double!

Sorry I don’t have time to write more, but I’m sure some of you family and friends have been wondering if I was still alive!

The challenges of a new year…

In General, Life on January 5, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Starting off a new year is usually fun for me. For some reason, it always feels like I’m turning a page in a book. One part of my life is over and a new one begins. It is a special time of anticipation and reflection.

This year is shaping up to be a little different. While I am excited about all that God has in store, I’m struggling with a little bit of trepidation at many of the challenges that lie ahead for me and my family. School is shaping up to be a major hurdle this year, as I’m taking more hours than I ever have before in both the Spring and Fall semesters. While this is a choice, it’s something that Rashel and I have both decided is for our long-term benefit, as I can knock over a year off my degree plan by doing it. On top of that, most of you know that we’re expecting baby #2 this Summer. We’re very excited, but very aware of the challenges that will bring. Meanwhile, I will be rehearsing my second doctoral recital this summer and also trying to obtain a basic reading knowledge of French! And of course my work at Oak View, while very rewarding, is a time-consuming effort. Throw in my teaching load at seminary, and I’m anticipating either a heart attack or a nervous breakdown!

Seriously though, 2011 is going to be a great year. Maybe it looks challenging now on January 5th, but I know on December 31st I’ll look back and see that God was faithful to sustain and provide each and every day!

So, I’m starting a blog…

In General, Life on October 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

Blogging is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but just never got around to it. I think for a while I did have one of those Xanga blogs (do those even still exist?), but mostly ended up writing about what I had for dinner or other equally interesting issues. Hopefully I can be more interesting than that here.

Those of you that know me know that my life is pretty crazy. Not like a little (like your neighbor next door with the pink flamingos in her lawn) crazy, but certifiably (think white padded room) crazy. Don’t get me wrong: I love my life. It’s just that sometimes in trying to keep up with being a full-time doctoral student, adjunct professor, worship and communications minister, husband, and daddy, that life seems a little out of hand sometimes. So…I’ve decided to add one more thing to the mix and try to keep up a blog. Yeah, I’m nuts.

Actually, I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I’m doing this for me. Don’t get me wrong…I hope others will read this (maybe at 3:30 in the afternoon at work when they’re bored and the boss isn’t looking). But sometimes in the academic world and in ministry I feel like I’m bombarded with so many issues, problems, and random thoughts that I never have a chance to work through any of them. So, I’m hoping to do that here. Hopefully somebody out there will find something interesting…or at least oddly amusing.

The other reason I’m doing this is that I honestly do want to write about things that will be helpful to others. That’s why I chose the blog title that I did. I’m a conductor, and one of the great things about being a conductor is that you get to give leadership and direction to others. My job is to take a bunch of random dots on a page and bring them to life for others. I want this blog to be kinda like that. In sharing my thoughts about issues, perhaps I can somehow bring clarity to others, or at least an interesting perspective. Obviously, I live life in a variety of theaters (academia, music, ministry, and home), so not everything will interest everyone. That’s okay. Like I said, I’m mostly doing this for me. Hopefully, something I write at some point will help someone.