Prayer and Scripture
Prayer is an essential activity for every Christian, pastor, teacher, and layperson. Prayer must be constantly included in the educational process, including classroom and personal study time. In the classroom, prayer can be modeled not just as an introduction to the session, but as an active part of the activities, teamwork, and discussions. Students can study historical prayers, explore different ways to pray, and be encouraged to develop their own discipline of prayer. The Bible is the central resource for the curriculum. Students will read and study all parts of the Bible. They will learn to discern its message for today and explore ways to apply it to life and ministry.
Students will engage in some of these pastoral activities in each class.
Accountability; Administration; Continuing Education; Counsel – Listen; Dealing Biblically with the Spirit World; Discipline – Personal and Family; Disciple; Evangelize; Fasting; Impact Community; Leadership; Ministry; Personal Spiritual Development (Holiness); Prayer; Preach; Ritual; Sabbath; Small groups.
Students develop capability in these activities through engagement in ministry during the learning process. Many of the courses are cross-disciplinary. For example, the theology of preaching is discussed as the student preaches. Communication theory is taught while evaluating the student’s sermon. Sociology and learner focus pedagogy are discussed while the student is developing lesson plans. Major projects are often outside the classroom environment and done in teams.
The role of the minister strongly influences activities needed in the classroom. 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 and types of ministries with the same goal of equipping of the Body of Christ for the work of ministry.
Our goal is to train students to disciple others who can then disciple others. The teacher needs to see the students demonstrate that ability—often—during their classes. We need to build the expectation and confidence into the students that equipping through discipleship is their role.
We want our students to engage in four ways in every single course to help them make disciples. The form these take will vary greatly from class to class. These will be the focus of the learning outcomes for each course.
- With themselves
- With other students
- With a worshipping community
- With the larger non-Christian community.
The following is a more detailed description of these engagements:
With themselves. Students need to grow in, character, understanding, confidence, and skill. Each class should help students see clear evidence of their own growth as they fulfil the educational outcomes of that class. This will show them that their understanding and skill level are growing and give them confidence in their continued ministry.
With other students. Learning to function in teams and to lead teams is a crucial skill for pastors. Often a team will be a cohort but not always. Cohorts allow team leaders to rotate responsibility. At times, it will be helpful to put the students in new groups to help them understand the dynamics of changing personnel. Leadership skills, teamwork skills, issues of hard work, integrity, timelines, trust, and roles (and others) will be dealt with within each of the courses. Students will have many opportunities to improve, identify, build strengths, and grow in weaknesses. By practicing these skills in every class and having some form of feedback on their progress, students will have the opportunity to grow well in areas of teamwork and leadership. It is important that every teacher briefly remind students why they are being formed into teams and what they are expected to learn from the team process.
With a worshipping community. Students must be a part of a worshiping Christian community to properly develop as a minister. Projects assigned in the course must be accomplished within a local church / congregation / church plant. This means that students will need to work with their pastor to have opportunities to minister in their local congregation. If students are pastors, they can work with their local church board. At times, the students themselves must develop a ministry, outreach or opportunity with the encouragement and support of their local congregation. Members of the congregation should be aware of the students’ study and be willing to encourage and help them progress and develop. Students will develop the crucial skill of engaging others in ministry and working within a congregational structure to develop ministries. This skill will be important for the long-term success of their ministry. They will need to develop healthy attitudes toward criticism and input. They will need to learn to look past the emotional content of criticism and find ways to improve themselves. They will also need to learn how to deal with destructive people who may try to manipulate, embarrass, or demean them in the presence of others. It is impossible to encounter the wide possible range of attitudes in one or two times of ministry with a congregation. It is crucial that students engage with the congregation in every course so that they deal with a wide range of both opportunities and obstacles.
With the larger non-Christian community. Community engagement is a crucial skill for ministers. The ability to meet people in poverty and distress, business people, community leaders, government officials, wealthy individuals, people without a title but with strong influence in the community, the sick, prisoners, and other ordinary individuals will enable the pastor to preach the gospel to the whole community. Each course will have some project for students in the community. They will engage people from different social and economic backgrounds. This builds the students’ confidence as they move into new ministry settings and begin to understand how the whole community functions. They will begin to understand how influential people in a community can help make (or oppose) good changes. They will also begin to develop the skills of community assessment and development.
Cohort and Mentor
Cohort. Students will be formed into small groups of three or four to study together both in class and, if possible, outside of class. We call this type of group a cohort. If possible, students will stay with their cohort for the whole time they are in the Course of Study. In some cases, they will be assigned a new cohort each time they attend a class.
This cohort will function in several ways:
As a study group. Students will meet before class and make sure that each of them has been able to complete the pre-class assignments.
As an accountability group. Students will pray for each other and function as a spiritual growth and accountability group.
As a classroom team. When teams are formed in the classroom, the cohort will be the primary team structure. At times, the teachers will want to mix members of teams so that other perspectives and personal interactions can be experienced.
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.
As a coaching / mentoring group for active ministry. Students will be engaged in active ministry as they take courses. Getting feedback, coaching, and mentoring are keys to growing in leadership, grace, and personal confidence. Some mentoring or coaching needs to come from experienced 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.
Coach / Mentor. Students should have an assigned mentor / coach who will meet with each as they journey through the Course of Study. This person will help them connect to ministry in their local area. If the student is a member of the Church of the Nazarene, the mentor will guide him or her through the Nazarene steps toward ordination and provide feedback, coaching and guidance as he or she progresses in ministry. When possible, this person should be an ordained elder or deacon in the Church of the Nazarene. For non-Nazarenes who might be taking our Course of Study, this should be an ordained minister from their own group.
It should be part of the enrolment 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 institution 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. A report form can be provided to ensure periodic accountability.
Importance of Mentoring: Teachers and administrators must be aware of the importance of guided learning and character transformation. It is important that teachers be encouraged not only to mentor students in the topics of the course (content, competency, and context), but to remind students constantly of the goal of becoming like Christ (character). Offering personal examples, stories, integrity, and honesty to students will have a profound affect upon students’ growth. There are several ways teachers can create a mentoring situation:
- Journaling Assignment: Students can meet with a mentor at least twice during the course to discuss their spiritual progress through this assignment.
- Modeling: Teachers should offer themselves as examples and model honesty, humility, and obedience to the Bible as the Word of God.
- In-class Prayer and Devotions: Every class meeting should begin with prayer and a brief devotion. Students can be encouraged to pray in small groups. Students can be given opportunity to lead the class in prayer and devotions.
Identifying a Mentor: Students should be encouraged to find a mentor. This can be their pastor or a mature Christian in their church or community. In some situations, the teacher may need to step in and help students with this. This mentoring relationship can be carried through to other courses and be nurtured throughout the Course of Study.