For today’s News, I decided I should share what courses I’m enjoying this semester. For an update, last semester I had courses in Discipleship and Mentoring; Personal Spiritual Formation; History and Philosophy of Ministry; and Foundations of Biblical Interpretation. All were very enjoyable and I grew a great deal in each course. Maybe sometime I can share some lessons from the first semester. But for now…
Children’s Ministry– I’m taking this course with Scottie May, who has studied children’s spiritual formation and written or contributed to a number of books. The class is filled with a variety of ages and personalities, however we are all united by an interest in children’s ministry and spiritual formation. There should be a number of experiences, field trips, discussions, and projects that make the course even more enjoyable, but as it is, I’ve been having a great time so far. Just recently we had three children’s ministers from three different faith traditions (Sacramental, Covenantal, and Conversional) and had a dialogue about differences and similarities. It’s been great to learn from other perspectives, compare it to biblical and historical ideas, and develop my own beliefs along the way.
Human Development and Research in Ministry– I’ve always found this topic interesting. Well, maybe not always. But for a while now I’ve found the understanding of child development to be incredibly important for informing people how to work with children– but this is true of youth, young adults, adults, elders, all ages really. You must still get to know people individually, but understanding the larger picture influences how you relate to a person, a group, a stage of life, methods, messages, actions, words, and ideas. If you have the blueprints for a house, you can better understand how to renovate a particular room. You might be able to do it without the blueprints, but it’s much easier and sets you up for success. The same is true of studying human development. I’m excited, and so far this class with David Sveen has been quite interesting.
History and Tradition of Spiritual Formation– I’m taking this course with Tom Schwanda, who I met last semester while taking Discipleship and Mentoring. I love the study of history, especially that of the Church. We stand on the shoulders of giants. We are where we are and who we are because of those who came before us. God worked in the lives of the men and women of the past, and to ignore his grace in other times is to ignore important parts of His story in history. I think an issue with evangelical Christians is that, as Tom put it the other day, we look at Jesus and the Early Church, then skip over centuries to Martin Luther, then maybe look at the late 1800s/early 1900s, then we get to today. We must see ourselves in light of the grand history of Christ followers, not vice versa, judging them according to our time and culture. I look forward to learning from my brothers and sisters who’ve gone before me, as well as those who are in my class this semester.
Care and Counsel– We started this course with Barrett McRay with a series of questions about a case study, a man dealing with troubles in your Sunday School class. What would you do? What would you say? How could you help him? This class so far has been very deep and somewhat dark– there is of course the light and hope that Christ brings, but we’ve looked at pains, questions, and the painful, questionable parts of God’s story. Death. Disobedience. Punishment. Pain. I hate to say I’m enjoying the class, but I guess I could say I am happy that we are looking at the other side of the glass. Too often we dwell only on the happy and joyful parts of light– we must look into the pain and darkness to understand how we can bring the light and hope of Christ to those who are suffering. So yeah, I guess I am enjoying the class. Can’t wait to see where it goes.
Anyway, that’s my News for now. Grace and Peace.