Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

Revival at Seminary

Monday, April 4th, 2011 by Wolfgang Vondey

What exactly is seminary education? If you asked me, I would say it is characterized by two key elements: ministry and academics. The question is how well these two elements are brought together. Too much ministry, and the seminary experience is not much more than an average Sunday School; too much academics, and students will find it difficult to connect the content of their classes with everyday life. There are many students who only know the ministry side of the faith, and who struggle with the academic dimension, just as there are those who come to seminary from an academic career and have little practical experience in church ministry. Renewing the seminary experience must speak to both groups! But how?

Increasing the academic side will perhaps nurture in some students interest in pursuing an academic career, perhaps in college teaching and scholarship. Increasing the ministerial dimension will likely challenge those academically trained to consider the practical implications of their knowledge. And yet, I do not believe that we should overemphasize seminary education as offering “practical theology” degrees as if there were such a thing as “impractical theology.”  In turn, we hardly want to encourage programs in “theological ministry” as if there were such a thing as ministry that is not-theological. A first step in the right direction is certainly to stop perpetuating the division of theology, academia, and praxis. Such language only leads to internal tensions and creates a mindset that artificially divides subject matter, classrooms, disciplines, and interests. Not to mention what kind of graduate would leave seminary if ministry and academics were not integrated holistically. Some may argue that this is precisely what is happening and that the seminary experience needs an overhaul. But little is offered to move forward.

The mindset of many seminary students, particularly in pentecostal and charismatic circles, may be that seminaries need revival. Okay. Let’s do it! But how exactly is it going to happen? What exactly do we mean by revival at seminary? Who would participate in such a revival? Where would it originate?

I am envisioning that some of you are now thinking of revival in the classrooms. So let’s stick with that image. What would that kind of revival look like? Do we envision worship music and praying, sermons, dancing, shouting and prophecies? What exactly is revived by that experience? I think if we drive these questions further, we discover that seminary is a place where revival must integrate ministry and academics and that it is precisely in these two aspects that the difficulties reside. Anyone who has ever been in an academic classroom and has sensed the prophetic or perhaps convicting or just simply gripping reality of a discussion knows how difficult it is to integrate the ministerial dimension in that moment without going fully to a revival experience that effectively marks the end of the class time. And yet, at such moments, we cannot simply carry on business as usual. And if we manage to move to a different level, perhaps a prayer or simply a moment of silence or a time of ministering to one another, how difficult is it to move back to the classroom? At the heart of these difficulties, is it not the tension we have created between what we call “ministry” and “academics” (as if one could exist without the other)? If I am right, then this is where revival at seminary begins. Not in chapel but in the classrooms. Who is going to initiate it? Who will recognize it when it happens? Where is it going to take us? These are not rhetorical questions. Unlike church, revival at seminary requires more careful planning. So perhaps that’s where we need to start?

Macedonian Cry from the Urban Streets: ‘Come Over and Help Us!’

Monday, September 20th, 2010 by Antipas Harris

If twenty-first century ministry leaders take the divine call to ministry seriously,  in the words of John Perkins, “they must take the gospel to the streets.”[1] I have spent time on the streets, praying with people, talking to them about the problems they face, feeding the hungry, picking up drug-addicts and taking them to Teen Challenge, pulling men off the streets late at night to prevent them from vandalism and robbery, and helping the homeless find safe places to live. None of the people I have ever worked with wanted to be in the situation they were in. Situations and poor choices landed them there. Their deepest cry has been ”Please, please help us!” From the ravages of Katrina to what’s left of the earthquakes in Haiti, Cuba and China, people continue to cry, “Come over and help us!” From the urban war-zones of Los Angeles, the south side of Chicago, Boston and many places in-between, there is a cry from the streets, “Come over and help us!” From battered women to trafficked girls, there is a cry from every corner of the urban world, “Come over and help us!” From the brutally treated undocumented residents to the swollen bellies of the hungry children, the cry resonates, “Come over and help us!” I have seen the eyes of pain and have heard the cries of anguish. The hearts of people are bleeding and their souls are crying out. Read the rest of this entry »

Women and the Churches: Part I

Friday, June 4th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Bella's Baptism

Recently my oldest daughter, Bella was baptized. As every parent knows, the baptism of your children is momentous because it is about their becoming members of God’s family. For those who practice believer’s baptism, as I do, the feeling is more akin to what parents who practice infant baptism feel when their children undergo confirmation. To see your child publicly and personally embrace the faith in which she was raised, well, let’s just say it is one of those markers in life.

I have always supported women in ministry in part because from its inception pentecostalism has always had women ministers. This was long before cultural trends were in favor of it. In fact, just the opposite was the case; it went directly against cultural trends.

The baptism of my daughter has reminded me of the prayers I have always prayed for her and my other two children. These are common prayers: that God would raise her up, make her strong in mind and body, give her of powerful sense of calling, use her for his kingdom, in short, that God would cause her to flourish. It is for these reasons that I write now in support of those prayers.

The more I study the history of Christianity, the more it seems apparent to me that the Spirit has continuously raised up women to advance God’s church. The historical fact that they have had to do this while being consigned to particular roles has not stopped the Spirit from giving them a continual voice. So, for the next few posts, I want to talk about women and the churches as a way of honoring all Christian women and expressing a hope for my daughter. Read the rest of this entry »