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One of the discoveries in education in the past few decades is that there are many kinds of learning styles. Some people learn well reading while others need to draw, sing, or make a sculpture of the concept at hand. Michelangelo expressed the idea of creation in a beautiful painting. The arts have long been used by the church to teach history and the life of Christ. Music is core to worship. We are deeply in debt to John Wesley for his theological hymns.
We want to encourage teachers and module writers to include the arts in assignments for students. Drawing time lines, singing hymns, allowing and even encouraging projects to include artistic elements will help many of our students grasp the material.
I hope that in the future we can get key concepts for each class written into song and then put to local musical styles so that students can sing our materials. I hope that in the future we can find good artists who can draw key concepts so that students can see what we are saying! I pray on a regular basis that God will raise up song writers who can express the doctrine of Entire Sanctification for this generation.
Lets use the arts as much as we can!
As we looked at re-forming the way we teach pastors we found that our expectations of the role of the pastor strongly influenced the structures needed in the classroom. What is the purpose of a pastor? As we gathered our first list of activities from a wide range of people in different countries we found that nearly every possible activity was expected of a pastor by one person or another. From, preaching, to maintenance, to building skills, to legal skills, community organizing, leading music, visiting everyone and anyone who was sick, or needed guidance, the pastor was the counselor, and guide for everyone all the time!
Whew! That is exhausting!
What is the role of a pastor and a congregation? In Ephesians Paul lays out five different types of ministers; apostles, evangelists, prophets, shepherds and teachers. Each of these has a different set of activities, types of ministries and a bit different focus but the main point of each of their ministry is the SAME. Paul points them all to the follow outcomes,
for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:12-16 World English Bible (public domain).
This SAME ministry is to the whole BODY of Christ, those local congregations who are expressions of the Body of Christ. It is the ministry of building up the body to the fullness of the measure of Christ, as each part does its work. This means that while we are equipping the student to be a beginning pastor – the role of that beginning pastor is to equip the whole body for ministry. This means that we need to make sure that the pastor is able to teach and train others for ministry! We need to make sure the pastor is equipped to perfect the saints in THEIR work of service (according to the working in measure of each individual part). We cannot assume the students are able to do this, we need to see them demonstrate that ability – often – during their classes in the Course of Study. We need to build into them the expectation that this is their role, and the confidence that they are able to fill it.
Thus every lesson we teach should have the local believer, the local congregation, and the community where these “lay persons” will be ministering in mind. This is the reasoning behind having four engagements in every class. If what we are teaching the student cannot be applied by a congregation as they minister in a community it does not need to be a part of our curriculum.
This is a congregational focus.
We are wanting our students to engage in four ways in every single class. This will vary greatly from class to class, but some form of all these four must be included in every class.
- With themselves
- With other students
- With a worshipping community
- With the larger non-Christian community.
Lets look at these more closely.
The mother was walking to the doctor as her two year old daughter lay dying in her arms. A new Christian she lifted her heart in prayer that God would heal her daughter. Arriving at the doctor’s home, the child lay cold on the exam table, “She’s dead” said the doctor as he examined her. The mother continued praying. After a bit the girl’s body began to warm, then a bit later she sat up! God heard and answered the cry of a mother.
We need to include prayer in the classroom, not just as an introduction to the session, but as an active part of the activities, teamwork, and discussions. Prayer is an essential activity for every pastor, teacher and Christian and we must include it as a constant and vital part of our teaching. We should study prayer historically, explore different types, encourage silence, shouting, and read prayers. The student should experience God in the class, not just examine Him at a distance.
Prayer is a core activity in this course of study. Let’s integrate it into all our activities.
Love for students and translators,
Helping the poor and needy
We want our regional modules to be self-contained. That is every module should contain all the materials necessary for a student to complete the class. The core materials will be in the module itself. Supporting materials should be public domain or an open copyright such as Creative Common 4.0 This will allow the materials to be easily copied and translated.
How should we use a student’s time?
When students come to an academic setting, especially in the humanities, they are given a list of reading, a list of papers due, tests, and their time in the class room is mainly in note taking, or in discussion. Time outside class is mainly spent in the library, looking for resources that will apply to the papers that need to be written. Sometimes a professor will give a list of library books, but mainly students are expected to develop their own sources, spending hours looking for materials, books, and articles on which to base their opinions.
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?
I walked up to the car with an open hood to see what was wrong. The driver was looking around the engine compartment. As I approach the car he opened the battery cover and pulled out his lighter to look inside the battery. I knocked the lighter from his hand and jumped back from the battery and the car. He needed light to see but did not understand that there could be a hydrogen explosion by using a lighter rather than a flashlight. He did not understand the chemistry and could not see the danger. I had to explain my actions and the chemistry and then he was very shocked and thankful. We found a flashlight to finish the job.
I have often been corrected by educators when I say the phrase “training of pastors.” They react strongly and negatively to the image of training. Over the years I have tried to clarify why they feel this way. Their response is that training involves teaching a series of steps without understanding the reasons behind those steps. They view training as an almost mechanical form – sort of like the training of an assembly line worker with a very limited responsibility.