Ford shows and teaches friendship to TBC students
As the author of a book examining Augustine’s theology of friendship, it’s not surprising that Texas Baptist College (TBC) students find a friendly ear in Coleman Ford, whether it’s talking about coffee, spiritual formation, or the history of Christian spirituality.
Coleman Ford, assistant professor of humanities at TBC, lived in the Fort Worth, Texas, area throughout most of his life. “I remember going to the Fort Worth Zoo, the Kimbell Art Museum, and going to Rangers and Cowboys games,” said Ford. “I just had a fun life growing up in and around Fort Worth.”
Raised in a Christian home, Ford came to know the Lord when he was “seven or eight” years old and was baptized at nine years old. “I didn’t grow up in a Baptist church, but I do count that time of coming to know the Lord as my moment of salvation,” said Ford. “I had a season of growth in high school, but I soon found out that my faith was pretty shallow.”
While Ford grew up in a Christian home, like many people, he spent some time of his life apart from living the way God wanted. “I did what a lot of kids did and attached myself to my parents’ faith,” said Ford. “I just really didn’t have a grounding in what the Gospel was and didn’t know what it truly meant to follow Christ in my everyday life.”
While attending the University of North Texas, according to Ford, he “walked away from the Lord and did not pursue Him.” Ford mentioned that the Holy Spirit was still present in his life, but it was not until he graduated college that he truly turned back to the Lord.
“I had a kind of Gospel awakening moment in my early 20’s,” recalled Ford. “And from that point on, my faith just grew exponentially, and I joined a local church. As I tell people, I was loved into the Baptist church.”
Ford recalled that a friend of his who was on staff at Vista Ridge Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas, now known as The Ridge Church, invited him to join them on a Sunday. When Ford walked in, he was caught off guard a bit.
“I don’t know if he told a bunch of people that I was coming or something, but there were a bunch of people at the front as I came in,” said Ford. “One lady just hugged me and said, ‘Welcome, Coleman,’ and from that point on, I really began to grow in community with the people of this church.”
After several years of being a church member, Ford and his wife, Alex, accepted the calling from God and he served on staff as the youth minister for five years.
“It was a great season of life for my wife and I, who were newlyweds, of just growing in the Lord,” said Ford. “I spent five years as the youth minister while I was in seminary and just really enjoyed that time.”
While Ford was on staff at The Ridge Church, he was attending Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and earned his Master of Theology in church history from the Dallas institution.
“That is where my pastor went, so honestly, I didn’t know of any other place to go to at the time,” said Ford. “While there, I got to take church history from Jeff Bingham, and really developed my love for church history.”
Following graduation from DTS, Ford moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to pursue at Doctor of Philosophy in church history at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Ford spent three years at Southern Seminary before moving back to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex.
“We never felt that Louisville was going to be our final landing place,” said Ford. “We felt like the Lord was drawing us back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and we wanted to find out what that looked like.”
Ford considered missions or overseas theological education, but when an opportunity arose in the area he called home, he accepted it.
“A local church opportunity sort of presented itself to us and it felt like it was the right thing for us to do,” recalled Ford. “The Lord confirmed that when we moved back to the area in 2016 while I was helping launch a new campus of The Village Church and finishing up my dissertation.”
While serving on staff at The Village Church, Southlake, now known as Restoration Church, Ford began to wrestle with what would come next in his life.
“After about three years in The Village Church, I had applied to different positions within the church that weren’t panning out and we started to feel that theological education was the route to go,” said Ford. “Towards the end of 2019, I started having conversations with Southwestern about the possibility of joining the faculty here and it felt like a tailor-made position for me.”
It was not immediate, but Ford joined the Southwestern Seminary faculty in the spring of 2020 and began teaching at TBC in August 2022.
Ford teaches many subjects at TBC such as spiritual formation, humanities, church history, and even art. He models his teaching style on the incarnation of Christ.
“The Son of God took on flesh to dwell among us, and so as the teacher, that is the spirit that I try to bring into the classroom,” said Ford. “Coming amongst my students, not to be served, but to serve. To come alongside them and encourage them.”
Ford has published two books in the last year about friendship and Christian formation: A Bond Between Souls: Friendship in the Letters of Augustine (Lexham Press) and Formed in His Image: A Guide for Christian Formation was published (B&H Books).
“Dr. Ford is a really personable individual and I think it has to do with his academic interest,” said Grant Sellers, TBC graduate and former student of Ford. “He loves the idea of friendship and that is certainly not restrained in an academic environment.”
Sellers described many times when Ford would take the class out of the classroom to the Coffee House on campus to have class in a more “friend-style” environment. Sellers said that Ford would even “bring his laptop and have Zoom students join in so they weren’t missing anything.”
Another former student of Ford’s, Hadassah Rogers, recalled that Ford’s personality is one that keeps students engaged.
“Dr. Ford is just a wonderful person to be around,” said Rogers. “He is very bubbly. He is very happy, and everyone I know loves to be around him.”
Rogers said that Ford increased her love for church history because of how much he knows and talks about the subjects he teaches. She added, “The ideas that he presents in class, friendship and spiritual formation, they stick with you and they challenge you.”
Ford is known for a lot of things on Southwestern Seminary and TBC’s campus. Some of them are coffee, church history, friendship, and a love for the local church. For Ford, Fort Worth is home and it is where God has called him to serve.