October 28, 2009
It is no secret that seminary education in the mainline church is facing tremendous challenges. Fewer people enrolling, tighter budgets, and so on. Those challenges make us ask the big question, is Lutheran seminary education properly forming the leaders needed for today’s church?
I recently read a remarkably inspiring article by Leonard Sweet, written as the forward for a book by Carl Savage and William Presnell. It is called, “18 Rungs in The New Ladder of Learning.” You can find the article online here. In the article, Sweet offers 18 “transformations that are changing the nature of how we prepare leaders for the church.” Many of the ideas directly challenge how our seminaries currently operate – numbers 8, 9, and 14 seem particularly poignant. I found this article to be very cogent and concise – a helpful tool for examining norms in the ELCIC.
I would like to know, what do you think of Sweet’s offerings? Which point seemed particularly inspiring for you? Please post your comments below.
September 10, 2009
I am reading (and recommending) a great book by Aubrey Malphurs called “Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders.” I know, the title sounds boring, but it is potent stuff with tangible steps that help churches find their blind-spots and take real steps to make changes. Among other things, I was struck by a quote concerning seminary curriculum, here is what Aubrey Malphurs writes about changing the way we develop leaders:
Most training equips pastors for one hour on Sunday morning but ignores the other forty-plus hours of the week that demand such things as leadership gifts and abilities, people skills, and strategic thinking and doing…pastoring is a leadership-intensive enterprise…A scan of the typical seminary curriculum would reveal that far too many are not aware of what is taking place in North American culture and its impact on the typical church. Though many seminaries and Christian colleges have begun to use the new technology, the are typically business as usual when it comes to curriculum. My view is that the problem is not what evangelical seminaries teach but what they do not teach. Many evangelical seminaries teach the Bible and theology, and it is imperative that they do so. However, they often do not provide strong training in leadership, people skills, and strategic-thinking skills, and this is poor preparation for ministry in today’s shrinking world, which is undergoing intense, convoluted change.
Don’t be fooled by the cover of this book, it’s a powerful tool for churches seeking renewal in the Church today. Let’s review the way we train and strengthen leader-navigators in the ELCIC.
August 26, 2009
Every day hundreds and perhaps thousands of people come to churches across Canada looking for some kind of assistance and every day these churches hand out food, bus tickets, clothing and sometimes even cash to ease the hardship of these people. We do this with a mixture of emotions ranging from contempt and pity to compassion and love.
Sometimes in the process of engaging these people we sit down and talk with them. Often it’s simply to allow them to weave a request perfected by many visits to many churches. At other times, their conversation goes beyond their physical need and ventures into their emotional and spiritual needs.
Jesus spent most of his ministry on the streets, walking among the very people who occasionally come to our doors. By walking among them Jesus was able to reach through their physical need and into their spiritual need to offer them the gift of life.
A number of years ago there was a seminary which made available a spring session that involved living on the streets for three days. Students were given $5 and sent out. The lives of these students were not the same when they came back.
What if our churches began to offer opportunities for people to live on the streets of our neighbourhoods and cities? What if we sent them out in pairs to walk with those who struggle with physical needs and addictions, but who also have spiritual and emotional needs? What if these people went out, not to fix problems, but to walk with Jesus among the same people he walked with and to discover that in the midst of these people Christ can transform both us and the people we meet.
I wonder if by doing this our church communities would become places where people in need would not only come for physical help, but also come to worship and learn and fellowship with us. I wonder…