For a child who knew that DNA meant deoxyribonucleic acid and who asked for a dictionary for Christmas one year, complex thinking came easily for Matt Gibert, a Th.M. student studying Pastoral Leadership and New Testament. But one thing remained unclear throughout his life—the gospel.
“I grew up learning Bible stories at the neighborhood Methodist church each week,” Matt says, “but somehow I always felt sorry for Jesus … like He got a raw deal. The Cross represented the status of His death more than anything else. I didn’t understand substitution or atonement or the centrality of what would be described as the gospel until my senior year in high school.”
It was then that his best friend invited him to come along to Falls Church Episcopal—a church with a long history in Falls Church, Virginia, including George Washington as one of its wardens. The church’s solid teaching (and Michael W. Smith’s Secret Ambition video as “cheesy” as that may be, Matt says) finally made the gospel clear.
“I got it. Jesus paid the price for a reason and He chose to die. That changed my perspective,” he says, “and my life started to change.”
From there Matt earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of William & Mary, and then a master’s degree in biology from Indiana University. When he moved back to Washington, D.C., he began teaching high-school science at Langley High School, one of the most noted in the region. But by the third year of teaching and coaching at Curl-Burke Swim Club, which has sent swimmers to the last five Olympics, Matt remained unfulfilled in his work and began searching for something more.
That something more turned out to be vocational ministry. After seeing a telecast by Willow Creek Church in Illinois, Matt realized he wanted to become a pastor.
“You know when you get a thought like that, you think, ‘Who am I to think that I would be in ministry?’” he says. He ran the idea by a staff member of McLean Bible Church where he was attending and serving, who encouraged him to pursue the seminary application process. “I came and met with an admissions counselor [at DTS] and after the two-and-a-half hours he gave—which was more than any of the other schools had given—I was sold.”
Matt’s time at DTS as well as his internship with Gary Brandenburg, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church Dallas, has focused the direction of his future ministry. While he once considered becoming a professor or a missionary, Matt is now certain that being a pastor is the best fit for his skills and personality—one that is sensitive toward hurting people and the outcasts. In fact one of Matt's favorite hangouts in Dallas is the Lakewood Starbucks which gives him the opportunity to interact with the neighborhood's eclectic community.
“There’s something wired in me to do that, which is beneficial from a pastoral standpoint,” he says. “I’m really excited about teaching and influencing people [for Christ]. I’ve loved sermons my whole Christian life. I love to sit and learn from other people.”
One such person is DTS Chaplain Bill Bryan, for whom Matt works.
“Matt Gibert has an insatiable love for Christ,” Chaplain Bill says. “His work ethic is wonderful and he epitomizes what Dallas Seminary seeks in a student—one who has integrity, character, and balance in the totality of his life.”
Another is Gary Brandenburg.
“For over a year I have had the privilege of working with Matt as a pastoral intern,” Gary says. “He is getting practical experience in the church, while we benefit from his giftedness and [willingness] to serve. I personally benefit from the theological insights he passes on from his classes each week. I am grateful for the partnership our church enjoys with Dallas Seminary,” Gary adds. “Matt’s eagerness to learn, his attention to detail, and enthusiasm for serving the people of God will contribute to a long and prosperous ministry.”
What’s next for Matt Gibert, who is slated to graduate in two years?
“I’m so blessed and so glad to be here, but I can’t wait to leave because I’m excited to put this training to the test. If it’s the end all of your time here at seminary, then you’re missing the boat,” he says. “This is a launching pad for a lifetime of vocational ministry. I look at DTS as a toolbox. It’s not this ivory tower of exegesis. You could do that here, but that hasn’t been my experience. It’s just been the time of my life.”
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.