Archive for ‘Students’

My ACU Campus

0 Commentsby   |  01.18.18  |  ACU, Distance Education, Identity, Students

My ACU Campus

Having completed four semesters in the Masters of Divinity program, perhaps it is a fine time to pause and offer a brief reflection on my experience thus far.  My campus is a spare bedroom in my West Virginia home resting, as many West Virginia houses do, on a ridge in the forest.  As I look out my “dorm room” window, I see a very “non-Abilene” mountain rage speckled with barns and homesteads currently covered in a layer of ice and snow.  When it is time for class, I open my laptop and log in.  When life calls, I feel free to pause and return at a more convenient time.  To some, I am “just” an online student.  

I believe, however, that being an online student makes me no less a student than my residential counterpart.  My mantra is “every student can obtain a first-class education,” although not all university enrollees are necessarily students.  Being a student requires a somewhat different skill set that just being admitted to a program.  Regardless of where one sits as they complete their assignments, learning will always be a function of dedication, effort, and attentiveness.   

Being an online student has its advantages not least of which is the ability to wear pajamas to class and feel free from judgment. The most rewarding practice that online education has encouraged in me thus far is the propensity to be swift to hear and slow to speak.  Communication, in the form of discussions, is slow and intentional and I have often redacted my writing upon review as I realize ways in which I may be misspeaking.  If I were in a “live” discussion, I fear I may often say things I would later regret. Maybe not, but I know myself well enough. This practice has begun to influence my face to face communication with others as a result.  For that, my co-workers and I are thankful.  

Notwithstanding, being an online student comes with some disadvantages.  Chief among them is the sense of separation from the broader learning community.  While I communicate with professors and students, I rarely get to talk to them.  When I do, those experiences are treasured – perhaps more so because of their rarity.  We communicate, I believe, with a communion of senses as members of a communal context.  Given that, I miss the nonverbal aspects of communication like body language, tone, and facial expressions.  You know that look your friend gets in their eye when they are about to “go off”?  I don’t.  You know that subject you can bring up and get your professor off topic?  Yeah, well, I wish I did.  

In his first book of The Ascent of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross offers some wisdom for attaining the “highest estate of union” symbolically located atop Mt. Carmel.  This understanding, while intended for our personal spiritual quests, fits nicely in the context of online versus residential learning.  He writes: More »

Reflecting on the Past Year

0 Commentsby   |  01.12.18  |  Church History, Gratitude, Hope, Hospitality, Students, Theology, tradition

Reflecting on the Past Year

Using the New Year as a time to reflect has always captivated me and reflecting on 2017 has even more so because so much has happened personally. For the first time in my life, I moved out of my hometown and I have been challenged scholarly and spiritually. I was born in Searcy, Arkansas and when the time came for college, I went Harding University. A shallow part of me decided to come to the Graduate School of Theology at ACU because I wanted to go somewhere a little further from where I have been living my entire life. I am so glad that I did because my first semester at ACU has exceeded any expectations that I had.

When my wife Kaitlyn and I moved to Abilene in July, we only knew one person. Austin McCoy is a friend from Harding who started in the GST the year before I did. One of the first weekends after we had moved in, Austin invited us to meet some of friends that he had made at the GST. Matthew Roberts, Chance Juliano, and Sarah Dannemiller became our fast friends. It was funny because immediately after seeing Austin, he left to travel to attend a few weddings and visit friends from Harding. Kaitlyn and I’s new friends continued to invite us to spend time with them and I am moved by the friendship that they extended to us so quickly. I am truly grateful for never feeling lonely after moving to a new place.

Kaitlyn and I invited our new friends to our apartment during Advent. While we were at Harding, a professor invited us and some other students to his house on the Sundays of Advent to observe the season. Our professor introduced us to the Advent wreath and to the penitential meaning of the season before Christmas. It made an impression on Kaitlyn and I and we decided that we wanted to continue the ancient tradition in our own home. We were happy to introduce the tradition to our friends who had also welcomed us.

Tradition has been a large part of my experience in the GST. Growing up in the Church of Christ, I was always told that we were striving to be like the early church. That idea is part of what encouraged me to join the Master of Arts program in Ancient and Oriental Christianity. As my new friends and I began to discuss theology, they helped me wrestle with issues that I have struggled with, not by rejecting my faith when problems arise, but by looking to the church’s tradition. My views on theology have developed in ways that I would not have expected in the short time that I have been at ACU.  Through conversations with professors and fellow students, I have come to believe that the tradition of the church is an essential part of the Christian faith.

As I reflect on my year, I am very glad that I decided to come to ACU for graduate school especially because of how I have seen myself grow in a short period of time. I encourage you to reflect on your own past year and look forward to what the rest of my time in the GST has in store. More »

On the Training of Ministers

0 Commentsby   |  01.09.18  |  ACU, Alumni, Hope, Ministry, Mission of God, Students, Theology

On the Training of Ministers

Pete Ward’s new book Introducing Practical Theology: Mission, Ministry, and the Life of the Church (Baker Academic, 2017), emphasizes throughout the importance of the church and the lived experience of the community of faith. Ward describes well two conversations that I often have with prospective students and mid-career ministers. First, why do people desire to begin theological studies? Many simply have an affinity for knowing more about their faith. They see more rigorous engagement with the Bible, Church History, Theology, and Ministerial Practice will make a difference in their personal growth and congregation’s well being. He states, “The desire to know more often comes out of a realization that we do not know enough. It is not at all unusual for practice to get ahead of theory. This could be a simple situation—for instance, being asked to lead a group study on a particular issue” (22). He goes on to describe that the resources often accessible are the first steps in becoming a theologically reflective practitioner. However, there comes a time when maybe a crisis or a heavy issue emerges that cannot be engaged in faithfully without formal and professional training. He continues, “This sense of a gap in knowledge can become particularly acute when someone, for example, has trained as a community activist or as a youth worker and his or her practice seems to have developed in ways that no longer fit with previous theological understanding. This experience is actually common, and it is one of the main reasons ministers and others who are professionally engaged in different kinds of ministry want to return to academic institutions to study theology, and practical theology in particular” (23).

The second conversation Ward describes as an ongoing and “normal Christian experience.” He states,

Practitioners often find that they have lost their theological bearings. Losing a theological orientation is not quite the same as losing faith. The normal pattern is that practitioners continue to find their personal faith to be meaningful and helpful, and God is still a reality in their lives. At the same time, they start to become more hazy about how this personal faith connects to what they do. … It is like taking an inflatable raft out onto the water. Drifting with the current seems pleasant, but after a while you can find yourself quite far from where you are meant to be. Practical theology is one of the ways that practitioners can look up from where their professional ministry has taken them and find ways to reorient themselves (23).

Ward concludes the chapter describing the possible reasons why ministers find themselves adrift. The gap between theory and practice (long ago described by Aristotle but keenly felt by every generation since), the ever-shifting contexts in society, the overwhelming need of people, globalization, and the complexity of the ministerial task often deflate one’s ministerial aspirations and capacities. While not the only reason, the gap ministers feel between their aspirations and their practices is why many return to school to pursue the Doctor of Ministry degree.

The dual services of the Graduate School of Theology and the Siburt Institute represent two facets of ACU’s desire to serve churches. I believe it is the responsibility of the church (not the school) to raise up the next generation of leaders. The school partners with churches by providing theological training to those identified as “called” to serve the people of God. The Siburt Institute provides resources for ministers and congregations who serve on behalf of God for the sake of the world. More »

Why is This Season Different from All Others?

by   |  12.19.17  |  ACU, Christianity, Hope, Jesus, Students, tradition

            Why is This Season Different from All Others?

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that you may have too many holiday traditions, and that sometimes it feels like every day of December has to contain some holiday movie, treat, or experience, I invite you to come spend a week with my family. Our holiday traditions make a high-church liturgy feel as free-flowing as a Quaker meeting. Growing up, we had specific ways of opening gifts, specific meals we would eat on specific days, and specific Christmassy beverages we would drink while watching specific movies. In fact, it feels like almost everything we did during the month of December centered around some sort of tradition. From the way we decorated the house, to the songs we would sing, to the foods we would eat, to the games we would play. Does this sound at all familiar?

Attempting to remember every tradition would be exhausting, and frankly looking at them in a list may make them seem a little overbearing. Why did everything we did have to be so specific? Was there no room for newness, freshness, or even just ‘letting things happen’? Did we really have to structure everything so closely? Certainly not, as my siblings and I have come to realize as we’ve each grown up and moved away from home. We’ve enjoyed the Christmas season perfectly wonderfully without sticking to each of our family’s traditions by the letter, as we’ve learned to celebrate Christmas in different places and with different people. However, at the same time we’ve learned to appreciate our Christmas traditions in an entirely new way. I know I have.

Childers family

The Childers Family

For my family, the weather turning chilly and the days growing longer always meant something. It meant buying a Christmas tree together, and playing hide-and-seek with only the tree-lights on. It meant drinking hot cocoa and watching the How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the 1966 animated one, of course). It meant searching for that perfect gift for someone, and learning how to adopt the spirit of giving over and against that of receiving. It meant baking cookies together and playing cards and eating Chinese take-out. And though in a sense each of these traditions is fairly peripheral to the nativity story that forms the center of the Christmas season, but I’ve begun to realize that they were more than fun family experiences. They were in fact vehicles for our experience of the story of Christ’s birth each year.

Not because we can’t celebrate Christ’s birth without a Christmas tree, or because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a deeply spiritual message (although, of course, it is), but because each of these things reminds us that this time of year is somehow different from other times of year. This time of year we eat different foods, sing different songs, wear different clothes, and think in different ways, reminding us that in a manger in Bethlehem just a few long years ago, the world was turned upside down. Something different happened. God entered the world as a helpless child, and the world can never be the same. More »

Alumni Spotlight- Nathan Pickard

by   |  12.14.17  |  ACU, Alumni, Church, Evangelism, Ministry, Mission, Professors, Students, Theology

Meet GST Alum, Nathan Pickard!

Nathan lives in Newmarket, Ontario with his wife Katie and two boys, Caleb and Eli. He enjoys spending his time playing hockey with the kids. He also has a love for the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. He received a Master of Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry from ACU. Most recently, he wrote a small book called Praying for the Neighborhood and also contributed a chapter to the book called Along the Way which was edited by Ron Bruner and Dana Pemberton. He also writes for our GST Blog.

 

1) Where are you currently working & what is your role?

I am the minister at Newmarket Church of Christ (a small city 40 minutes north of Toronto). I have been serving this congregation for just over 13 years. 

2) Do you feel like the GST prepared you for your current role? If so, how? More »

The Church as Refuge

by   |  11.02.17  |  Christianity, Church, Evangelism, Ministry, Students

The Church as Refuge

Two weeks ago, I made the decision to ask a young man to leave our church, and it has left me with a sense of unease. This severing of ties wasn’t due to doctrinal or theological differences, personality conflicts or any of the causes we might immediately consider. It was because he shot up heroin in our bathroom.

We had done the best we knew how to welcome Cameron (1) into the atmosphere of worship and fellowship on Sunday. We made sure that people were actively trying to connect with him. We ignored his outward appearance and looked for the best way to extend grace. We made space to bring him into a table full of people and food during our fellowship meal. At some point, he left those things behind and locked himself in a stall. As I struggled to communicate with him through the high, as I tried to creatively figure out how I was going to dispose of the paraphernalia littering the tile floor, as I did most of this with my 4 -year old daughter at my side, I found myself a minister divided. The part of me aching for Cameron, not wanting to see him turned away, had to contend with the part of me that is already serving many people at Shelbourne Street, including my own family, and my desire to keep them from harm.

A tent city in the shadow of the largest mainline Protestant church in Victoria.

We are not a particularly urban church, but we are becoming more familiar each year with a growing number of addicts and homeless that are immigrating to Victoria, BC. We occupy one of the warmest areas of Canada, and like much of the Pacific Northwest, we have become a year-round haven for people that are endangered or without resources. We are also the seat for the Provincial Government, a distinction that has led to many protests and the creation of “tent-cities” to serve as both shelter and statement in the public eye about the need to address the growing homeless and addicted populations (2).

Into this dry tinderbox, the drug Fentanyl has dropped like a lit match. In 2016, BC Health attributed this refined form of opiate to being the lead cause in a spike of overdose deaths that topped 900 in the province. New reports this May estimate the death toll for 2017 to rise over 1,400 (3). Two of those deaths belong to children of folks in our congregation. Our small, seemingly safe suburban church world is being flipped on its ear by the changes of our community, and the challenge to become a place of refuge. More »

Student Spotlight- Morgan DeBoer

by   |  10.09.17  |  ACU, College of Biblical Studies, Students

Morgan DeBoer is beginning her first semester studies at ACU’s Graduate School of Theology, pursuing master degrees in both Christian Ministry (MACM) and in Social Work (MSSW). She is originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa and graduated from York College, where she earned an undergrad degree in English.

Where you have seen God working recently?

I had not considered a formal degree in theology or ministry until recently, so the decision to begin this program was in several ways an uncertain one. But now that I am here, and immersed in my classes, I know that there is no place I would rather be, and nothing in the world I would rather be learning about. So I can’t help but wonder how God may have been at work this past year in ways I didn’t understand.

What made you decide to do a MACM & MSSW? 

There are some fairly broken contexts that I wanted to serve in, but I felt that I wouldn’t be truly equipped to do so without deeper training in discipleship, and a deeper understanding of God. So when I saw that ACU offered both a MACM and a MSSW degree, I was interested in how that might allow God to mold both my heart, and my skillset. More »

Discovering My Vocation: The Fanning of the Flames

by   |  09.05.17  |  ACU, Ancient Languages, Bible, CSART, College of Biblical Studies, Students, Theology

Recently I was browsing my TimeHop (which, for those who are blissfully unaware, is a cell phone app that mercilessly displays your unfiltered social media posts from today’s date in years past) when I came across a Tweet from four years ago that read something like this: “Is it weird that I’m actually really excited to learn Greek???” If I could talk to this four-years-in-the-past Ryne, I’d tell him that although it is quite weird for you to have shared such an arbitrary thought with the entire Internet, you will be delighted to know that your desire to learn Greek is not weird at all but will in fact be quite fruitful.

That naïve version of me couldn’t have really understood how rewarding the study of this ancient language would be. Indeed, only now in retrospect am I able to fathom the many doors that were opened to me through my study of Greek (and, eventually, other ancient languages) at ACU.

At the outset of my undergrad time at ACU I had only a vague sense of vocation. Something to do with the Bible, something to do with ministry. I was sure that the arc of my career would involve these two aspects, but I had no clearer direction than that.

The story of how my vocational understanding eventually crystallized is long and multifaceted, but for the purposes of this post, you only need to know the primary catalyst and the new ministerial yearning that it sparked within me. The catalyst was Greek; the yearning was for a ministry conducted not in a church building, but in a classroom.

The long and short of it was that I absolutely loved learning Greek. Before college, I had no particular interest in language learning, but Greek opened my eyes not only to a new skillset that I possessed, but also to new doorways through which to study the biblical text that I held so dear. My first taste of Greek was sort of like a baby’s first bite of chocolate cake at their first birthday party—I wasn’t quite sure what this new thing was, but I was absolutely sure that I wanted more.

Luckily for me, I happened to choose a university with a faculty that was uniquely and diversely equipped to give me more. Languages were a huge part of what brought me to the Graduate School of Theology for my master’s work. I had drank deeply from the well of Greek in undergrad and had dipped my toe in the waters of Hebrew, and the GST offered an opportunity for more of the same as well as an expansion of my linguistic horizons. More »

Student Spotlight

by   |  10.17.16  |  Students

Zane Witcher is a first year GST residential student, was recently highlighted in myACU News. The article begins,

“Zane Witcher delivered his first sermon when he was 14 years old. His grandparents attended a small church of 20 people, and they needed a preacher for a Sunday service. He said that first sermon was “rough,” but soon not only his grandparents but other churches were asking him to preach.”  Read the full story here.

Evans Ngoge

by   |  03.29.16  |  Students

The Graduate School of Theology has a long history of service to churches and ministries in Africa. Recently, Abilene’s local news highlighted the work of Evans Ngoge in their Know Your Neighbor section. Read the online post here.

International Residential Opportunities

by   |  05.28.15  |  Distance Education, Learning, Students

This week Dr. Mindi Thompson, Director of Distance Education for the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University, wrote “Global Seminary Programs: Learning across Cultures Online, at Home and Abroad” for Colloquy. 

Read article here.

Commenting on the article, Brad Carter, ACU alumnus with both a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry (2000) and Master of Arts in Religion (2003), states,

Some of the lessons learned lead to an idea I’ve been tossing around with folks for the past 18 months. Situations like these may need for an African “guide” or “translator” that is on-the ground assisting African students and the professor in making the cultural connections, assisting with appropriate communication (like the email greetings as mentioned), translating cultural metaphors and colloquialisms, and helping African students make the relevant cultural application to the material that is often difficult for a Western lecturer to do — at least at first. This may be another area that is worth exploring in having someone in Swaziland that can communicate, participate in the courses as a guide, and play the role of translator/guide alongside the lecturer — much like the recruiter or person who was the original point of contact that serves as the go-between. –Brad Carter, President of African Christian College, Swaziland, www.AfricanChristianCollege.org

The GST is exploring other options for expanding our service to the continent of Africa. We are having extensive conversations with the good work at African Christian College. Once we figure out some logistics, the GST expects this site to be the third residential site for graduate theological education. The primary hurdle that faces us is the funding needed to scholarship African students is much higher than American students (90% scholarships or $1620/course). However, the GST’s commitment to serve out weighs these financial issues.

With the exception to offer residential courses in Zagreb and Accra approved by the ATS Board of Commissioners in 2013, ACU has the opportunity to be a leader in international theological education. Thanks to Dr. Mindi Thompson for her role in directing the GST’s distance education program and making these dreams realities.

Bridging the Gap in Distance Education

by   |  05.16.14  |  ACU, Announcements, Ministry, Students

The Graduate School of Theology has a long history of educating students while they serve in local congregations.  Whether it’s a youth minister across town, a preacher in the Metroplex, or an intern working part-time for a rural congregation, we’ve always tried to provide flexible class options.  We have one-week intensive courses in August, January, and May.  We offer two-weekend short courses in the fall and spring semesters.  We even schedule our full-semester classes as three-hour blocks once a week so students who commute to campus can take classes on their day off.

This year, class options for our non-residential students got a lot more flexible.  Our accrediting agency – the Association of Theological Schools – approved our petition to offer up to 75% of the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) in an online format.  For this 48-hour degree, that means only 12 credits – the remaining 25% – must be taken in a face-to-face setting.  That’s just four classes.  Students can take residential intensive classes when it best fits in their schedule while the majority of their coursework is completed online.  They don’t have to wait for required courses to be offered on the right day or in an intensive format.  They don’t have to spend so much time away from their families – or their ministries – taking classes on campus.  Students can serve congregations at a greater distance from Abilene, whether that’s across the country or around the world.  And all the while they’re still getting a world-class theological education from full-time GST faculty.  How’s that for the best of both worlds?  Serving students, serving the church – that’s what we’ve always done.

For more information about the MACM or our other degree options for non-residential students, contact Dr. Melinda (Mindi) Thompson, Director of Distance Education:  mlt11a@acu.edu, (325) 674-3706.

 

BMIS 680 Urban Missions

by   |  03.09.11  |  Announcements, Contextual Theology, Contexual Education, Ministry, Mission, Mission of God, Society, Students

A one-week intensive course in New York City

May 28- June 4, 2011

Dr. Jared Looney – Bronx Fellowship, Adjunct Professor

Why? At the beginning of the 21st century, more than half of the globe is now urban, and in North America 83% of the population is distributed in 475 major metropolitan areas.  Urban worldviews and lifestyles touch virtually every corner of our society – whether central city, edge city, suburb, or exurb.  Urban demographics are constantly shifting.  Urban life touches the church as arts, business, education, politics, and nearly every aspect of societal discourse emerges from within cities.  Urbanism – both as place and as worldview – matters to the whole church from the suburb to the central city.   

How? In a one-week intensive, students will engage in theological and missiological reflection while embedded in a diverse urban context.  The class will benefit from interactions with the city as well as with practitioners serving in the city.  Ranging from youth culture to community development to church planting to congregational ministry, missional practice will be emphasized.  Students will focus on theological principles, cultural context, and practical ministry.

Course Fee = $185
The course fee includes lodging at Refuge House (Bronx, NY) for seven nights; most meals; and Metro Card for transportation about the city.
Students are responsible for their own travel to/from NYC.

For more information contact Dr. Stephen Johnson, Director of Contextual Education. More »

Mercy Project

by   |  12.17.10  |  ACU, Change, Christianity, Contextual Theology, Contexual Education, Hope, Jesus, Justice, Learning, Ministry, Mission of God, Students, Theology, Video

At ACU Graduate School of Theology, we are convinced that deep learning requires real-world engagement. Contextual education–the phrase we use to describe this approach–reimagines the “classroom,” and “study;” and it means that we get to watch students partner with God in truly amazing ways. Working on behalf of enslaved children in Ghana, West Africa, Chris Field (Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Executive Director of Mercy Project) is one such student. These are his words:

His name is Tomas, and he is about nine years old. He sits perfectly still in the middle of a small wooden fishing boat and watches my every move closely. I reach my hand out to him, and he slowly reaches back. As his small, dark hand embraces mine, these incredulous words form in my mind: “I am holding the hand of a slave.” Tomas lives in Ghana, Africa where he fishes on a boat fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. Tomas was probably sold by a desperate mother, for about $20, to a man she hoped would be able to send Tomas to school and feed him three times each day. Instead, his life is miserable, full of dangerous work and only enough food to keep him alive.

Unfortunately, Tomas is just one of an estimated 7,000 children working as slaves in the fishing industry of Ghana. These are the children we are working to help. These children are the reason we started Mercy Project. Our initial focus was to raise as much money as we could to help the children in slavery. But it didn’t take us very long to realize that the scope and depth of the problem would require more of us. Long-term solutions to the issue of child slavery in Ghana would have to include economic development- economic development that attacked the poverty and lack of economic opportunity that “forced” men to buy children like Tomas in the first place. This is why we are working to transform Ghana’s economy by creating new industry and businesses that are not dependant on child slavery. This economic development and opportunity gives viable alternatives to the country’s current economic choices. We believe this transformation is what will help us save Tomas and the other children working as slaves in Ghana.

This Christmas season, in the midst of all the celebration, I keep catching myself thinking about Tomas. I am sad that–on the outside–he has little reason to celebrate. But I am grateful for the chance to work on his behalf, and I am hopeful that his next Christmas will be full of joy. We invite you to join us in praying for Tomas and all of the hurting people in our world. Could there be a more fitting way for us to celebrate the humble birth of our Lord Jesus?

Theology, Technology, and Innovation

by   |  11.29.10  |  ACU, College of Biblical Studies, David Kneip, Learning, Students, Theology, Video

ACU Graduate School of Theology, the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the Department of Bible, Missions, and Ministry (DBMM) are all a part of the College of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University.  In the video below, DBMM instructor David Kneip speaks about theology, technology, and innovation at ACU.

Contextual Immersion in New York

by   |  11.23.10  |  Contextual Theology, Contexual Education, Mission, Mission of God, Students, Video

Carol Mendoza and Penny Peng, GST Students

In January, ACU GST students Carol Mendoza and Penny Peng will arrive in New York City for a seven month Contextual Immersion experience. During their time there, Carol and Penny will work closely with Jared Looney (Bronx Fellowship) who will serve as their Contextual Supervisor. They will be engaged in the life of the city and God’s mission in the world. Though not exclusively, Carol will move in relationship to the Hispanic Diaspora in New York and Penny the Chinese community. During the seven months, they both will earn nine hours toward their degree programs.

Sounds cool. What does this mean?

Contextual Education is at the heart of how we are forming students for ministry and mission in the Graduate School of Theology. This means we want our students’ learning and formation to be connected to the life and mission of God in the world in its particular expressions (contexts, if you will). From their first semesters in the GST, students are not only thinking about this notion, but actually participating in a particular context as “situated learners” (see Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation).  Students’ participation in a particular context stretches across the span of their degree program and deepens as they move through through it.  At the center of this deepening relationship is Contextual Immersion – something like the seven month immersion experience that for Carol and Penny will take place in New York.

While we who teach and administer in the GST have been conceiving of a “new curriculum” for some years now, it is students like Carol and Penny who are helping us bring the potential of it to fruition.  Penny and Carol have created a video that tells a bit more about them. 

Also, they are raising funds to make this experience possible.  If you are able to help them, you can make a contribution online here.

Dr. Stephen Johnson
Director of Contextual Education
Associate Professor of Ministry
ACU Graduate School of Theology
Abilene, TX 79699
General Editor, Academy 
of 
Homiletics 
Website More »

When Mommy Gives You Lemons, Make a Lemonade Stand

by   |  06.14.10  |  Contextual Theology, Hospitality, Students

After setting up a lemonade stand for mommy and daddy in the living room, our son decided to take his show on the road. Though ostensibly to grow his “Toy Story 3” fund, I think he really just enjoyed making the homemade, freshly squeezed treat and sharing it with others. He sold it cold in the doorway of my seminary office for “one, ten, or twenty-five cents.” The “customers” responded well to his approach- most payed a penny and left a quarter tip. He was also was quick to tell folks it could be free if they questioned the pricing structure. Thanks to all who stopped by!
aidanlemonade

Russ Kirby
Director of Student Services
ACU Graduate School of Theology
http://www.twitter.com/acugst
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The Gift of Hope

by   |  04.28.10  |  Church, Hope, Ministry, Ministry Assessment, Students

Tim Sensing, DMIN, PHD - Director of Academic Services
Associate, Professor of Ministry, ACU Graduate School of Theology

Tim Sensing, DMIN, PHD - Director of Academic Services, Professor of Ministry, ACU Graduate School of Theology


Profiles of Ministry is an assessment given to all first year students who are enrolled in one of ACU Graduate School of Theology’s formation degrees (MDiv, MACM, MAMI). The assessment asks the participants to read several case scenarios and to respond according to how they think they would act in a particular situation. Afterwards, the participants are asked a series of questions orally that give them a chance to nuance their answers. For example, a case scenario might ask about a particular issue common in ministry. The students choose one of the items listed. It might not be the exact description of their preferred ministerial action, but it is the best one available. The audio interview allows the participants to elaborate about various areas of ministry through open-ended questions.

Over 40 areas are covered in the assessment measuring the students’ perceptions of ministry. For example, one of the indicators measures how balanced the students’ perspectives are regarding “world mission.” The item is measuring how likely the students are to choose between teaching the gospel and trying to meet a particular social or economic need. In other words, will they give a cup of water to quench someone’s thirst or are they more likely to open the Bible and share the gospel? ACU GST students consistently score “very likely” to be balanced. They are just as inclined to give a cup of cold water, as they are to “preach the gospel.” They discern on a case-by-case basis the best approach in each situation.

After listening to students answer questions and examining the results of the written reports for over 11 years, my hope for the future of the church grows. Let me offer two illustrations. One of the indicators measures “denominational collegiality.” Most of the GST students score “likely.” This is good news. If they scored, “very likely,” then we would wonder how realistic they are. They would need to remove the proverbial rose-colored glasses and realize that institutions are flawed and we all struggle to be what God has designed. Alternatively, if they were to score lower than “likely,” then we would question why they are considering ministry in the first place. Our students both love and are committed to the church. They are not looking to go elsewhere. They are not disenchanted or cynical. Other questions confirm this finding. Students are encouraged to be part of God’s family and consider the church as a healthy place for them to serve. Good news indeed.

The second example is similar. The last question of the interview asks about their perceptions of the future. Students express confidence in the people of God acting in ways that will serve others and honor God in significant ways. More importantly, they trust that God not only protects the church but also is active in achieving God’s will and purposes in the present and in the future.

I have the great joy of listening to future ministers’ perceptions of ministry and the church. These students bless me with the gift of hope.

ACU Graduate Chapel Sermon (Ben Fike): January 20

by   |  03.17.10  |  Chapel, Church, God with us, Hope, Hospitality, Jesus, Justice, Mission of God, Students

Every Wednesday, we meet for worship together in the Chapel on the Hill. Sometimes students speak. Here is a sermon by one of them, Ben Fike, who is the preacher for the Maryneal, Texas Church of Christ. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Matthew 2:1-12 – Laying our Gifts Before the King

by Ben Fike

“The church has just entered the liturgical season of Epiphany one week ago today. The Feast of Epiphany in the Western tradition is associated with this story of the wise men coming to Jesus, the first gentiles who come to worship the child king. Today we join our sisters and brothers the world over in our hearing and proclaiming of this text in this season.

I can’t read this story without thinking of my mom’s collection of nativity sets. She probably just took them down a week or two ago, but during Christmas they’re all over the house. Just little miniature versions of the birth of Christ spread out all over every bookshelf and table. The raggedy looking shepherds, the docile ox and lamb, the surprisingly calm and serene looking Mary and Joseph, little baby Jesus, no crying he makes, asleep in the manger. Blonde, and looking quite Scandanavian. And of course the wise men, all exotic and strange with enormous headgear and camels and robes and big bushy beards, bearing gifts.

But although this popularized version of the nativity may fly some places, we know better don’t we? We know better than that naive conflation of Matthew and Luke’s gospels bringing together Shepherds and Wise Men and Livestock in an ad hoc, irresponsible kind of way. We know better, that this story of the wise men bowing down to Jesus is not serene and precious and cute. It is, in fact, subversive to the point that it will directly contribute to a vengeful and maniacal king massacring thousands of innocents to squelch the perceived threat of the child born King of the Jews these wise men have come to worship. And we know better homiletically than to cast ourselves as the distant floating observers looking down on the tiny scene as if Jesus were a insect and we were a bear.

No, WE know better than that. This is a story we must enter. This story is in someway our story. More »