Family Life Cycle in the Church

From the Along the Journey blog of the Center for Lifelong Learning: “Family Life Cycle Programming in the Church.”

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Fixing the Problems of Theological Education

New post on the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans: “Fixing the Problems of Theological Education.”

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On church growth and rural churches

I recently visited with a pastor of a small rural congregation (average Sunday morning attendance is between 40 to 50). He’s been at that church for ten years and enjoys pastoral ministry. He is intelligent and well-educated, with a divinity degree from a top seminary and a recently-minted D.Min. He finds himself in that situation of many rural churches: the encroachment of new homes and new development as the once rural community is becoming a bedroom community for major urban centers up to two hours away. Multi-million dollar homes are cropping around the small clapboard church building with its modest educational wing and community cemetery. In fact, the new home just a few yards next to it on the rural road on which the church sits is actually bigger than the church building.

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The number of the Beast

One of my favorite Advent poems is Yeat’s “The Second Coming,” with its line, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,/ Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Granted, not your typical Advent/Christmas poem.

I grew up among pietists, evangelicals and biblical literalists to one extent or another. I must confess that a lot of the cognition in those traditions of faith never really took hold with me. Perhaps I was too critical for my own spiritual benefit even as a child. Issues about biblical inerrancy never interested me. During junior high school I learned that there are no extant original biblical manuscripts, the basis upon which the claims for biblical inerrancy are built (“There are no errors in the original manuscripts.”). That being the case it became apparent to me that it was a question of choice to believe in inerrant manuscripts—a belief that made no contribution to the quality of one’s Christian life or to one’s obedience to the message of the Bible, from what I could observe. Continue reading

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The persistant power of the past

Lately I’ve had occasion to appreciate again the power of the past to influence the present. What is amazing to me is how much that influence operates below people’s awareness, and how powerful that influence is on systemic homeostasis and patterns within systems. Continue reading

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Do you know what you’re doing?

Many folks who find themselves engaged in the task of congregational education tend to be able to jump right in and keep the programs running. And they do an acceptable, if not admirable, job of keeping things going smoothly. Programs run efficiently, people are happy, and no one complains. But dig a little and it becomes apparent that, for many, there is not much theological reflection or educational thinking below the surface of what may appear to be a successful program. The danger here is that efficiency is not necessarily an indicator of educational effectiveness. Continue reading

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From the dean’s blog: The LAST thing you should do is start a new degree program

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From the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans. Read the article here.

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The two questions you fail to ask when using a teaching method

After a formal group conversation about educational theory at a recent event a theology professor and I took our break outside the conference building. As we sat on rocking chairs looking over the vista the professor apologetically shared his frustration at hearing people talk about the “creative” methods they used in their teaching. His frustration was, in part, his inability to see how some of those creative methods applied to his field of discipline. If there is a stinging assessment of one’s teaching that hurts most, it may be the comment, s/he’s not a very creative teacher.” So I appreciated the source of his angst. Continue reading

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Personality type and religious leadership

Personality Type and Religious Leadership reports the result of research done by Roy M. Oswald and Otto Kroeger at the former Alban Institute. Around 1983 Oswald began using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to help church professionals across denominations understand better themselves, their ministries and the people they serve. The first chapter of the book sets the stage for understanding why understanding type is important. The chapter includes a Rashomon-type story in which four ministers in a car on the way home from a three day seminar, share different reactions and different understandings of their ministries. The story makes the point that understanding our own personality type, as well as the types of those we work with, is important to our effectiveness as ministers.

Read more at the Along the Journey blog site:

http://columbiaconnections.org/2014/12/01/for-the-bookshelf-personality-type-and-religious-leadership/

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Make your course more effective with IRA and the Ws

Effective teaching in the online environment calls for following sound pedagogy, often, the same as those practiced in the classroom. After all, in a real sense learning is learning, regardless of where it happens. Whether you are teaching a dedicated online course, using a hybrid format, or using a LMS course site to support the classroom learning experience, it’s helpful to follow learner-focused instructional practices when setting up your online course site. One such practice is induction–and, you can never overdo it.

When I was in parish ministry our staff met weekly to do worship planning. In addition to reviewing text, sermon topic, music, hymns, and other components of the worship service we would always ask and decide on the question, “how will we enter the room?” That is, how and when would the worship leaders (choir, pastoral staff, etc.) enter the worship space so as to lead the congregation into the worship experience. We wanted to “set” the tone, affect, and focus of the worship experience from the beginning to create expectancy, and help the congregants know how and what to pay attention to. Continue reading

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