Discussion Points

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Add your thoughts to each discussion as they become available each week.

on November 7, 2011 , Print

DISCUSSION POINT #1: The Ecosystem of Theological Education

Ecologists call the complex systems within which living things exist “ecosystems.” In a well-functioning ecosystem, resources are abundant, toxins are efficiently filtered and removed, and a rich diversity of life finds niches for flourishing. You could define an ecosystem as a living system for channeling energy to sustain abundance. read more

DISCUSSION POINT #2: The Core and the Edge

There are three core components to any seminary curriculum that no seminary can do without, and that make a seminary what it is—biblical studies, theology, and history. No other educational institution addresses these three fields in the comprehensive and interrelated way that seminaries seek to do. These are not the only important, or even unique, areas that seminaries address—but they are at the very heart of what a seminary education provides, a three-legged stool that is the foundation of graduate theological education... read more

DISCUSSION POINT #3: Rethinking Vocation

Two generations ago, it was clear who theological education was for. It was for people preparing for ordained ministry or, possibly, missionary service. An overwhelming majority of M.Div. students went on to work as clergy in a Christian denomination. Seminary, like many other professional schools—of law or medicine or business—gave individuals a specific credential for a specific career... read more

DISCUSSION POINT #4a: Generational Transitions in Ethnic Minority Culture

A tremendous amount of vitality in North American Christianity is concentrated in ethnic minority and immigrant communities. Globally, the same could be said for the new Christian movements, only two or three generations old at most, in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The growth of these movements is surely one of the great moves of God in our time... read more

DISCUSSION POINT #4b: Generational Transitions in the Dominant Culture

If an institution is defined as an organization that thrives at least two generations beyond its founding, the institutional ambivalence of vast numbers of 30- and 40-somethings foreshadows a very rocky period for everything from new church plants to 250-year-old congregations—not to mention seminaries themselves... read more

DISCUSSION POINT #5: Leadership

A seminary is an academic institution. Yet most of its students do not become academics. Rather, they are preparing for leadership in one or another part of the church and wider society—or are already leaders. Students who become pastors, in particular, are often thrust immediately into positions of authority in organizations of significant complexity and, all too frequently, dysfunction. What does it mean for seminaries to prepare their students to be leaders rather than scholars?... read more

DISCUSSION POINT #6: Augmented Reality: Technology and Personal Presence

There are two understandable reactions to any new technology: enthusiasm and suspicion. There are plenty of both regarding the present and future effects of the Internet generally, and social media specifically, on seminary education... read more

DISCUSSION POINT #7: Training, Indoctrination, Education (coming November 14, 2011)

Whatever else seminaries do, they offer theological education. But just offering it is not enough. Seminaries need to make the case for theological education.Perhaps this has always been true to some extent, but it has certainly never been more true than it is today...

DISCUSSION POINT #8: Adaptive Strategies (coming November 21, 2011)

Responding effectively to adaptive problems always requires growth—as when a patient given a diagnosis of heart disease must make major lifestyle changes, or when a diagnosis of terminal illness challenges not just the patient’s but also the doctor’s ability to face our human limitations...