Friday 16 November 2012

Dan Kimball, Cheryl Saunders, and Winfield Bevins on the Future of Evangelical Seminaries

Christianity Today have asked three leaders for their vision for theological education in the future. Here are their responses (with their eyes on the US) along with a few highlights:

Dan Kimball – Live Missionally

‘[T]here is a great need for the majority of faculty and decision-makers to accept more fully their crucial role as missionaries and trainers of missionaries.’

‘[A]ll seminary instruction is best viewed in light of and evaluated by how it fuels the hearts and minds of students to serve as missionaries in their world... I believe this will happen naturally when faculty are themselves living missional lives and are not isolated in an academic bubble.’

‘If seminary leaders are not desperate to transform their schools into missionary-training centers for students who are themselves making new disciples, I wonder whether seminaries as we know them now will survive, because not enough Christians will want to be part of them.’

Cheryl Sanders – Amp Up Innovation

‘Evangelical seminaries can maximize the impact of theological education on the future of evangelical congregations by making education more practical, diverse, and accessible.’

‘[M]uch of what seminaries teach is not always comprehensible to the average churchgoer. Some students of mine have become so excited about something they learned in the classroom that they immediately share it in a sermon or Bible study at their church, then experience great disappointment that the people didn’t “get it.” The trick, of course, is for professors to challenge their students to think about what these truths mean in specific and changing ministry contexts.’

‘New hybrid degree programs are another part of the answer.’

‘By emphasizing diversity and making curricula more flexible and available to a broader range of students, seminaries will be well situated to deal with the diverse churches of America’s future.’

Winfield Bevins – Think Like St. Patrick

‘[W]hat good is it if you know everything about theology and the Bible yet don’t know about the one thing the resurrected Jesus called us to do: make disciples?’

‘Seminaries could learn a few lessons from the past by looking to the ancient Celtic monastic communities that trained missionaries to reach the radically unchurched throughout the British Isles and beyond... These monastic communities were not solely places for cloistered monks but discipleship training hubs that sent out hundreds of missionaries who helped convert the people of the British Isles.’

‘A future model for seminaries would include a balanced faculty, comprising theologians, biblical scholars, and resident church planters who are actively partnering with key churches and ministry networks.’

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