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Using the Arts

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!

Congregational Focus

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.

Cohort and Mentor

One of the features of the new curriculum is the use of Cohorts and Mentors.  These have been used successfully in many educational settings and our curriculum borrows and builds on those foundations. We want to have all students in a Cohort – at least through a single class they are taking, and it would be best if they could stay with a small cohort for the whole of the Course of Study.   This cohort will function in several ways.

  1. As a study group.   They would meet before class and make sure that each of them has been able to complete the pre-class assignments.
  2. As an accountability group.  They would be praying for each other and function as a spiritual growth and accountability group.
  3. As a classroom team.   When teams are formed in the classroom, this group would be the primary team structure.   At times though, the teachers will want to mix members of teams so that other perspectives and personal interactions can be experienced.
  4. As a discussion group.   One of the keys to a quality education is the ability to ask questions and discuss issues and ideas with other people.  This cohort will give a natural group where these discussions can take place.
  5. As a coaching / mentoring group for active ministry.   Each of the students will be engaged in active ministry as they take classes.   Getting feedback, coaching and mentoring is a key to growing in leadership, grace, and personal confidence.  Some mentoring or coaching needs to come from long term pastors who can give guidance, but some needs to come from peers who are walking a similar journey and can often more easily identify with the problems and needs.

 

A second feature is the Coach / Mentor.   Each student should have an assigned mentor / coach who will meet with them as they journey through the Course of Study.   This person will help them connect to ministry in their local area, guide them through the Nazarene steps toward ordination, provide feedback, coaching and guidance as they progress in ministry.  This person should be an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene.   For a non-Nazarene who might be taking our Course of Study, this should be an ordained elder from their own group.

It will be part of the enrollment process to make sure the cohorts and coach / mentors are identified.   There should be a mechanism at each educational provider to make sure that these structures stay in place and continue to function.   A person from the school should be checking on the mentor / coaches and making sure that meetings with the students are happening at least once every three months.  Cohorts that have a change in members should be reformed with new members at the next class session.

Four Engagements

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.

  1. With themselves
  2. With other students
  3. With a worshipping community
  4. With the larger non-Christian community.

Lets look at these more closely.

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Improving on the Good

The first chapter of Genesis has an interesting pattern.   Right at the beginning God declares creation “Good.”   But then He makes changes, improvements on that good creation and the improvements are also good.    Then more improvements and still creation is good.

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What is an outcome?

Define what students are expected to learn and redesign the system to make sure they have maximum opportunity to learn it.  (Outcome Based Education: Critical Issues and Answers)

The student appreciates …..    The student will understand …..   The student will value…..

Are these outcome statements?   I would like to give an extensive quote from the book linked above.  Page 12 and following.

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Prayer

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.

Open Materials

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.

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Research activities

How should we use a student’s time?

In research?

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.

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Training or Educating?

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.

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