On May 14, 2017, +Dan Scott was ordained a Bishop at Christ Church Nashville, a non-denominational church that worships in the Anglican tradition. Throughout the service, there were strong marks of the three streams of Sacrament, Scripture, and Spirit. This is fitting for +Dan, whose own life is marked by the three streams.
+Dan was raised in the Pentecostal church, and drawn as an adult to charismatic Episcopalians. He has spent significant time thinking deeply about the traditions of the church, most recently as he completed his Doctorate of Ministry at Lipscomb University.
We recently sat down with +Dan to learn more about his spiritual journey and how the Lord is at work in his life and ministry.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in the Pentecostal church. My grandparents were early members of the Pentecostal movement in West Virginia. In my teens, my parents moved to South America. Before my 30s I lived in South America, Central America, and Quebec.
I left my Pentecostal denomination over some doctrinal differences and was invited to come to Christ Church Nashville to be on staff in 1984. I worked here for 10 years and then served in Phoenix for 10 years.
After I left the Pentecostal movement, I found myself gravitating towards Charismatic Episcopalians. I was reading what they read and found that the Eucharist and liturgy really moved me. By the time I decided I wanted to enter the priesthood, though, everyone I knew was leaving the Episcopal Church. We sent a delegation from Phoenix to the first AMiA conference in 2002. I entered the diaconate in 2003 and was priested later that year.
My wife had a brain aneurysm in 2004 that brought us back to Nashville to figure out what was next. The senior pastor of Christ Church retired around that time and I was asked to assume his role.
Along this journey I completed a Master’s in Psychology while in Phoenix, and recently completed a Doctorate of Ministry at Lipscomb University.
How has a master’s in Counseling affected your ministry?
In Phoenix, I practiced in a high-end clinic with wonderful people. I learned many diagnostic tools, but found that some things get left out. What was missing was an acknowledgement that there is a kingdom of darkness at war with us.
One day I was working with someone who was really anxious and needed more than the kind of therapy I could offer him. I decided that, in addition to the tools I had, I needed a Christian based understanding and Christian tools to help people.
From a Christian standpoint, we hunger for glory, but are broken by sin and can’t attain it. We have one foot on the brake and one on the gas pedal at the same time. Put your foot too hard on the brake and you have depression. Put your foot too hard on the gas pedal and you have addiction.
I started learning more about the spiritual direction movement and the deep understanding therein of the human psyche. Culturally, our main disease is that we are functional atheists. I am now able to bring all these tools as needed to walk along with people and help them find healing and God’s purpose for their life.
What gets you up in the morning?
What motivates me is helping “turn the light on” for someone. I feel at times like a spiritual midwife. I find joy in helping walk someone into what God is calling them to.
At times I can sense things that people can’t see in themselves, often because of false humility. I’ll point things out like: aren’t you gifted in this area, or called to such and such? As a pastor, helping people discover what God has for them is the single most important thing I do.
What is your daily devotional rhythm, or what does your own spiritual formation look like on a daily basis?
I do the daily office in the morning. Right now, I’m reading the Bible through in French, because my placement is in the Congo. I used to minister in French when I was in Montreal and want to recapture the language.
I have alarms set on my iPhone to go off everyday on the hours. It’s doesn’t mean that I always am able to get away to pray every time. Sometimes, it just reminds me to take a second to pause. It’ll often interrupt thoughts I shouldn’t have or temptations I wish I didn’t have. It calls me back. Even though there isn’t a physical bell ringing and calling me to prayer, I am connected to a community in God’s church that is praying during those times.
Who are people you have journeyed with in your life that have had a significant influence on you?
Certainly my father, a lifelong Pentecostal minister. There are some things we disagree on theologically, but in terms of his commitment to God and service of others he is a good pastor.
C.S. Lewis turned the lights on for me, trite as that may sound. He led me directly and indirectly to other authors.
Within AMiA, I am so thankful for the ministry of Bishop Sandy Greene. The particular Pentecostal sect I grew up in was very controlling, and AMiA was the first thing that I ever belonged to. It was several years in before +Sandy would tell me directly to do this or do that. I asked him one time why he didn’t give me more direction in the beginning, and he said, “you would have run if I had, you needed a few years to heal.” God sent me to just the Bishop I needed, and I have received a great amount of love and healing from him.
What is the most encouraging or memorable thing that happened in your life and ministry in the last year?
I hope it doesn’t sound grandiose to say it was when I was consecrated as a Bishop in May. I went in feeling really unworthy of it. During the service I felt a real change in me. I took my vows really seriously and am honored to be serving as a Bishop.
What is something that you would like to accomplish in the future?
I’d like to establish a safe place for people who have genuine questions about their faith and vocation to come and explore that and discover God’s calling for them. For example, a place where a Christian who wants to become a Buddhist, or a pastor struggling with pornography can come and work things out in a safe and healing community. It’s not a physical place yet, but I’d like it to be. A place where we can experiment with neo-monasticism. Where we can explore what it means to be in community together for the sake of the world.