The Asia Pacific Region has an amazing 12 schools (with many more extensions) that offer the Course of Study to develop and educate students for Ordination in the Church of the Nazarene. The cultural and economic differences between these schools is breathtaking. The educational level of students entering the Course of study ranges from doctoral degrees to some who cannot read or write in their own language. The requirements for students to graduate from the COS range from a basic certificate to a master’s of divinity in some countries. The educational quality also varies greatly from non-accredited certificate programs to world recognized Bachelor and Master’s degrees.
Can we make a course of study that will bridge all these schools? Are the needs of pastors or ordained ministers similar enough that a single course of study could really meet their needs and the needs of the congregation they will minister to?
To answer this question the RCOSAC spent over a year re-thinking and debating the way that we educate ordained elders. We decided to approach this process with a focus on the ACTIVITIES of a pastor. At first the activity list looked like a series of tasks that pastors do on a regular basis. The list became so long that it was clear that this list is the job of the body of Christ, not of any one person.
These activities were strongly informed by interviews and discussions with pastors and laypeople who were asked about what a pastor needed to be know and do. They were asked what a pastor should be doing on a regular basis. From the feedback we initially made a list of tasks for a pastor but found that the growing task list was actually the work of the whole Body of Christ. People assigned pastors to tasks that they thought should be performed. We interviewed many people and found that EVERYTHING that the church as a whole should be doing was included as a pastor’s task.
No wonder pastors are often tired.
What are the Activities of a pastor? You might agree or disagree with the following list but we settled on the following activities in alphabetical order. (Some were later combined into Leadership).
Accountability, Administration, Continuing Education, Counsel – Listen, Dealing Biblically with the Spirit World, Discipline – Personal and Family, Disciple, Evangelize, Fasting, Impact Community, Intercommunications, Interpersonal Relationships, Leadership, Mentoring, Ministry, Personal Spiritual Development (Holiness), Prayer, Preach, Ritual, Sabbath, Small groups, Team Building, Vision.
The change in focus also moves from a specialized topic approach to an integrated educational approach. This means that an activity like “leadership” is taught in every class in the COS to some degree. This also means that skills like preaching and teaching will be taught gradually through the COS rather than in a single focused class. The approach de-emphasizes written papers as the primary student activity and replaces those with group activities, both within the classroom and in the broader communities.
The change in focus also moves from an individual focus to a team / cohort focus. Students will be grouped in stable teams at least during each class, but in most cases with a group of two or three other students who will form a cohort moving through the COS supporting, challenging, and holding each other accountable.
Finally, there is an emphasis on Holiness, Church Planting, (in addition to church management) the reliability of Scripture, the active work of God in history and today, personal, corporate, and national. God is the God of the whole world.