An idea for a Seminary Curriculum
- Engage with God. As long as seminary is just another degree producing experience, it’s perfectly understandable. But the Christian life is about walking in a love relationship with Jesus. As the seminary community experiences the love of God together, each participant will grow in practices of prayer, worship, submission, love, etc.
- Engage with the Bible. This includes both an ability to figure out what the text means (yes, I know the ambiguity of that term and I’m happy with it) an ability to live it out, and to lead others to engage with it in similar ways.
- Engage with the Christian tradition. By partaking of Christian history and theology, one will not only know and understand the basic content, but to do with the end of becoming a participant in both.
- Engage with the Church. Each church has a culture and way of doing things. Leaders need to know how to discern and shape that culture as they lead the people in being and making disciples.
- Engage with people. We all come to seminary with a variety of people skills. Some (often the extraverts) find it easy, while others find it hard work (some of us introverts). As Christian leaders our engagement with people will include listening to them, paying attention to them, conversing with them, connecting them with the church and with Jesus (and his resources).
- Engage with culture. Every culture in history has had two conflicting propensities: to seek Jesus and to kill him. As Jesus’ followers we take up his mission of sharing (through word and embodiment) the Good News of the Kingdom and suffering the consequences.
After 6 months or a year of the basics, students will be separated into cohorts of ten or so, aiming for a balance in terms of personalities and spiritual gifts. These cohorts will then go through ministry experiences together. Three types of experience would be envisioned.
Experience in a long-established church. There are a bunch of churches out there that haven’t changed significantly in ages – except for decline in numbers and increase in age. How do you live out faithfulness in that context?
A cross cultural experience. Since seminaries are cross-cultural institutions, it’d be most useful to have two of these to increase the chances of the experience truly being cross cultural for all the students.
A six month immersion in the life and ministries of a growing church. What does it look like to reach people, draw them into the body and equip them for ministry? What models for ministry work in different kinds of context?
A final year church plant. In their last year of school the cohort will together plant a church, putting into practice everything they’ve learned. To keep one area from being saturated with church plants, the final year of class work would use TEE (Theological Education by Extension) model. After the year is up the cohort will be free to continue the church plant together, divide up and plant others, or take up posts in other congregations elsewhere.
What do you think?
What obvious things have I left out?
Are there any seminaries working this way today?