Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

The Carmichael-Walling Lectures-2017

by   |  10.09.17  |  Uncategorized





The 2017 Carmichael-Walling Lectures will take place on Thursday, November 9. Our lecturer will be Dr. Mark Goodacre, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University.“How Well Do They Know Each Other?”

Dr. Goodacre will speak on the relationship between John and the other New Testament Gospels. The first lecture, entitled John’s Dramatic Transformation of the Synoptics, deals with John’s knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels as revealed in the way he dramatizes their narratives. In John’s Christological Transformation of the Synoptics, Dr. Goodacre addresses the understated similarities in the Christology of the Synoptic Gospels and that of the Gospel of John. In short, they know one another better than some interpreters of the New Testament have allowed. More »

Summit Review 2017

by   |  10.06.17  |  Uncategorized

ACU Summit 2017, “Ancient Scripture, Future Church: The Choices We Make and the God We Serve,”  focused on Deuteronomy, the ways this ancient text informs the future of the church and the choices we make as we strive to serve God. Approximately twenty eight GST faculty, staff, current students, and alumni spoke at this year’s Summit lecture series! People traveled from all over the world to attend the lectures and to a partake in many valuable conversations. Below are four all day tracks where GST faculty, staff, students or alumni spoke about throughout the week.


Ancient- Future Bible:

The Word of God is living and active, and it has been so for millennia. The rich heritage we have from our predecessors in the faith, from manuscripts to art and from reflection to action, can be a profound source of spiritual strength today. This track, hosted by Curt Niccum, empowers Christians to engage God and his creation in new ways by going back to the future. Those who spoke on this topic were Wendell Willis, Jeff Childers, Glenn Pemberton, David Kneip and Curt Niccum. Our speakers shed light on topic such as recovering the Words of Jesus, interpreting the text about Jonah and the war over women in the Word.

Congregational Leadership:

More »

Interfaith Retreat

by   |  01.24.17  |  Uncategorized

Every January the Multi-Cultural Alliance ( sponsors an interfaith retreat that invites Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students into conversations. This year’s retreat met at the Prothro Center, Lake Texoma, Texas. Two GST students and one faculty person attended the retreat. Below is a reflection from MA student, Joshua Gorenflo.

Interfaith Retreat Reflection

There is a verse in the Quran which reads, ‘Whichever way you turn, there is the Face of God.’ (2:115) Beautiful words by any sacred standard. But there is an added weight to them as I look around this room at the 45 seminary students of varying Jewish, Muslim, and Christian stripes, intermingled in laughter and conversation and respect. The skirt has been lifted on my innocuous practice of segregating those who are categorically ‘other’ and I’ve been found wanting.

I want to expose all the areas of my heart that insist on de-humanizing those whom my God calls his children. That they believe differently than I is no longer a compelling reason to perpetuate hatred under the guise of being obedient to the God who created us diverse and called it very good.

I want to be formed by the words ‘love thy neighbor,’ not conform them to my own weak standard. Distancing myself from injustice to keep my hands clean, to not rock the boat, is not love. Love is investment. Love is when tears are shed and hearts pound with audible anxiety and mercy bleeds from open wounds while voices crackle out insistently that there is no ‘them,’ only ‘us’ and the Divine tenderly holding us together.

I want more safe spaces to have these conversations with one another not simply about one another. I can’t imagine what the practice of coming together and sharing ourselves with any sort of regularity would do to form us into a people who listen, really listen, to one another. It might just allow for the possibility of hearing our own hurts and hopes in voices of a different accent. More »

Our Spiritual Worship

by   |  10.05.16  |  Uncategorized

Our Spiritual Worship

ACU Graduate Chapel – 9/14/16

Judy Siburt

In 1967 my husband, Charles Siburt, and I came to ACU for graduate school to prepare for ministry to the church. I earned a Masters in Education/ School Counseling and Charlie an M.Div. While here I taught school, and Charlie preached in Lingleville over by Stephenville. We were rich students….we had no idea how rich our time at ACU truly was and how it would change our lives forever. We had the experience of studying under the likes of: Lemoine Lewis, Abraham Malherbe, Everett Ferguson, Carl Spain, Tom Olbricht, John Willis and others.

New worlds opened to us. We were taught how to think, how to learn, and how to develop the life of the mind. It allowed us to make lifelong relationships with people who shared our calling, our values, and our commitment to ministry. We began to form a “good” theology that included knowing and enjoying God and training ourselves so the communities where we would contribute would flourish.

You students are answering the same call to ministry we responded to almost 50 years ago. You are learning what it means to truly live out spiritual worship. You get to talk about God. You are challenged to learn from others who have thought about God, read about God, and spoken about God over the centuries. You get to dialogue daily with contemporaries who also have committed to live out God’s good and pleasing will for their lives.

As one who has experienced this process as the wife and ministry partner of the late Charles Siburt, as one who has raised two sons who both sat where you are today as M.Div. students, I can assure you the process of “renewing your minds,” More »

A Word of Exhortation

by   |  08.24.16  |  Uncategorized

A Word of Exhortation

Hebrews 13

Call to Worship

Welcome to Grad Chapel. Our text today, for those of you who grew up like I did, always brings a smile to my face. I grew up at church. My grandfather was an elder, my father was an elder, my mother was a Bible school teacher four quarters out of four both Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I grew up in a home where babysitters came to my house so that my parents could go to Cottage Meetings to watch filmstrips. I started preaching when I was 13. Anytime I had a sermon and the preacher okayed the message, I could preach on Sunday nights at Elmwood Avenue Church of Christ in Lafayette Indiana. So if you grew up like I did, and I know some of you didn’t, there emerges insider language. I’ve used quite a bit of insider language already. Our text today makes us insiders smile for it is the text about entertaining angels in their underwear. And for a little kid, an angel wearing boxers or briefs is funny.

  • I didn’t grow up where the insider language, “our text for today,” referred to a lectionary, a set of Sunday readings laid out not only for your church but also for all the churches that embraced the Christian Year as its liturgical calendar.
  • Continuing for the fourth year, Grad Chapel is going to follow the lectionary in order to provide us a rhythm that for all of you who come regularly to this place through the academic year can worship our God and in the words of last Sunday’s lectionary text you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.
  • The Lectionary does not follow the academic year. The academic year begins towards the end of the Christian Year, during the season of Pentecost, Ordinary Time of Year C, Proper 17. And our text for this coming Sunday is Hebrews 13.
  • Our text exhorts us with “a word of exhortation” to welcome you here in mutual love, for who knows, there might be angels among us… And they might be wearing their underwear.


22 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

  1. “A Word of Exhortation” – it would not be Hebrews if we did not go back to the OT for some examples. The Deuteronomist places Moses with his GPS saying, “You are Here.” The little blinking dots says, “You are on the border between here and there and before you go forward, let’s look back to where and why you’ve been.” And Moses offers words of exhortation to the camp of Israel, words of memory and hope. Throughout the Deuteronomic history, words of exhortations, preaching, carries the story forward. Words that not only remind God’s people of God’s promises and mighty acts, but also words of warning, words of hope, and words of possibilities. Hebrews 13 reminds me of Moses and the Children of Israel who lived in the safety of a camp, protected by community and family, and who were exhorted to embrace the challenges and opportunities before them.
  2. And the preacher in Hebrews replicates that tradition with his word of exhortation saying, “Hold on to your faith in Jesus, the author, pioneer, and perfecter of our faith.” And the preacher here makes an allusion, 10 We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. 13 Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. And those who know the insider language know that “going outside the camp” is an exhortation that calls them to a different kind of ministry, a cruciformed ministry, a ministry of challenge and possibility. Words that call them, in his words, “torture.”
  3. And, as all good preachers do, this preacher gives us a list of concrete expressions of those challenges and possibilities. Listen again to his list…

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels unaware. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

This preacher chooses this list because these challenges and possibilities connect to the audience’s immediate context. As you begin this academic year, may this old list of challenges and opportunities guide you. Let this word be a word of exhortation. More »

ACU Today

by   |  04.02.16  |  Uncategorized

Recently, ACU Today highlighted the wonderful work of Dr. Mark Hamilton. You can read more here.

In the attached article you will find a direct link to the complete article in ACU Today that includes beautiful photos. Later in that same issue you can read about the good work of the Siburt Institute in an article entitled Flock Management (it begins on page 48).

For a direct link to ACU Today go here. (back to page 10 or forward to page 48 respectively).

Student Spotlight

by   |  02.23.16  |  Uncategorized

Recently, ACU highlighted the good work of Justin Whiteley. Read more about Justin here.

Aquino on the Move

by   |  02.17.16  |  Uncategorized

Aquino Gives a Lecture and Leads a Seminar at the University of St. Thomas (MN)

Dr. Frederick Aquino (Graduate School of Theology) gave a public lecture at the University of St. Thomas (MN; The lecture drew from his book, An Integrative Habit of Mind (Northern Illinois University Press), and focused on the relevance of John Henry Newman for tackling the question of what it means to pursue wisdom in an information age. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Aquinas Chair.

He also led a faculty seminar on spiritual perception. Dr. Mark Spencer and Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk (University of St. Thomas) co-organized an interdisciplinary faculty seminar funded by an external cluster grant from the Templeton Foundation via the University of Notre Dame. One outcome of the seminar will be a research project in which Dr. Aquino will co-direct (with Paul Gavrilyuk) an international Spiritual Senses Symposium and co-edit a related volume of essays under the working title, Sensing Things Divine: Toward a Constructive Account of Spiritual Perception.


Aquino Co-edits a book on Newman with Oxford University Press

 Dr. Frederick Aquino (Graduate School of Theology) published (with Dr. Benjamin King, The School of Theology, University of the South) Receptions of Newman (Oxford University Press, 2015; ). In this collection of essays, scholars from across the disciplines of theology, philosophy, education, and history examine the different ways in which John Henry Newman has been interpreted. Some of the essays attempt to rescue Newman from his opponents then and now. Others seek to save him from his rescuers, clearing away misinterpretations so that Newman’s works may be encountered afresh. All the essays show why Newman’s ideas about religion were so important in the past and continue to inform the present. More »

Small Churches by Kester Smith

by   |  08.06.15  |  Uncategorized

Ninety percent of churches in the world have fewer than 200 people. Eighty percent have fewer than 100. Of the two billion Christians in the world, half of them attend small churches. Yet, the vast majority of blogs, books, conferences, and websites made available as ministerial resources are designed for doing ministry in a big church context.

Which is why Christianity Today is introducing “Pivot,” a new blog by Karl Vaters, dedicated to equipping and inspiring ministers in small churches. GST faculty’s hope is that it will be a challenge and encouragement to any and all of you working in ministry, and especially those who serve in a small church context.

The Church according to Paul

by   |  06.02.15  |  Uncategorized

thompson-bookJames Thompson continues his excellent series with The Church according to Paul. On May 26, 2015 it received the 2015 Book of the Year Award from the Academy of Parish Clergy. Read more here.

All three books are significant contributions to the field of ministerial and ecclesial formation. Dr. Thompson has always excelled in combining rigorous academic research and ministerial sensitivities. His love for the church is most evident in this latest work.

The other books in the series are Pastoral Ministry according to Paul and Moral Formation according to Paul. 

Differences that Shape Us–Becca Kello

by   |  05.23.15  |  Uncategorized

It was around a Panera table that I realized that I needed to pursue ministry. We were sitting around the table, sharing our stories, our lives, our beliefs and doubts discussing national and global events, how our faith shapes our worlds, and how our wounds, particularly our religious scars, make us better people. We met once a week to have a meal and a conversation, but this was about the only thing we had in common. This table in Panera, just outside of Nashville, was where an agnostic Muslim, a practicing Daoist, a few non-religious folks, an atheist, a secular humanist, and a handful of Christians became my community; the unlikely community that helped me discern my call.

Around this table I experienced the good in humanity; we regaled each other with beautiful, and occasionally horrific, stories of our faith communities as we tried to figure out how to live life and be people of faith and integrity. Around this table I saw vulnerability and openness that was tender and inspiring, and I laughed at stories that were comical and too bizarre to be made up. And around this table I first came to fully know the rewards and challenges of interfaith dialogue as I was beginning to shape my ministerial identity.

While some of the challenges are obvious, occasionally they are quite subtle. Generally, we define and understand God differently, religious garb seems unfamiliar and perhaps unnecessary, and we have a different religious vocabulary and often different cultures, but to let these overt differences be the sole focus of our understanding of interfaith dialogue is to see it dimly, through a glass.

Around this table, with these people, I learned what it looks (and feels) like to firmly hold a belief in conversation with someone who firmly holds an opposing belief. This, especially in our social climate today, is incredibly invaluable. The skill of being able to not only articulate what you think and believe and why, but also to hold a real conversation with someone who doesn’t automatically agree with you because of the shape of your religious necklace is sharpened through interfaith dialogue.

Interfaith dialogue is important to me and to my call not simply because I like people and diversity, but because it makes me a better Christian minister. It teaches me compassion and grace; it teaches me what aspects of my faith are central to who I am as a Christian, which aspects are central to the institution of the Christian religion, and which are matters of opinion and tradition. Interfaith dialogue teaches me conflict resolution in some very real and concrete ways. It teaches to me to see people and stories first, labels and dogmas second.

IMG_3759_2Here in this photo, I am with my friend Manel, who also serves with me on the Abilene Interfaith Council Board. Manel, along with many others in my work with the Abilene Interfaith Council, has taught me so much about being gracious in the face prejudice. Through hearing her story, I learned that she was inspired to start wearing her hijab by seeing the faith of Christians in our community, and I’ve been reminded that, in this largely Christian nation I will rarely, if ever, be treated the way she does for faithfully living out her beliefs and moral convictions. Truly, I have seen the embodiment of kenosis because of my friendship and partnership with her in our challenging work of pursuing interfaith dialogue. More »

A Sabbatical in Korea

by   |  05.11.15  |  Uncategorized

Ham 3What does a sabbatical have in common with a vacation? Absolutely nothing. And that’s a good thing too. Let me explain.

This spring, I have the privilege of living and working in Seoul, Korea with my wife Dr. Samjung Kang-Hamilton. Our apartment overlooks the Han River in the western part of this great city of almost 25,000,000 people, the sixth largest metropolitan area in the world. The energy of a city that never sleeps (or even dozes) makes life here the very opposite of dull.

Ham 2What does one do on a sabbatical in Seoul? For my part, I am teaching five courses on four campuses of three different universities. Two of those courses are at our host institution, Korea Christian University, where I teach one class on Israelite history and another on Old Testament theology. At the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, I am privileged to offer a doctoral seminar on divine kingship, working with excellent PhD students. And at Yonsei University, I teach an undergraduate course in Israelite religion on the main campus in downtown Seoul and a graduate (master’s and doctoral students in practical theology) course on Job and the Literature of Faith and Doubt (one of my ACU standbys) at an experimental seminary in the brand-new city of Songdo, involving a dozen or so students from many parts of the world. The teaching load, plus the hours of riding buses and subways to get from one place to another, makes for a busy week, but a very fulfilling one. It is always a privilege to be able to use one’s gifts fully. In addition to the (almost) daily teaching, I have given two major public lectures, one on Jonah and Lamentations at the Presbyterian University and the other on Psalms 93-100 for the Korean Society of Old Testament Studies, meeting this semester at the Seoul Theological University. I have also preached several Sundays at a number of congregations.

Ham 5Teaching students outside one’s native culture forces a teacher to work hard on his or her craft, to be disciplined not only with respect to content (which should always represented the state of the art), but also with respect to method. Good teachers are never satisfied with their work and always look for new ways to help students learn, and I have sought to do this as well as possible.

Ham 4Teaching biblical history and theology at three institutions in one of the world’s great cities offers a marvelous opportunity to gain a very broad picture of the possibilities of Christian education today. The old boundaries of denomination and heritage matter far less than the common interests and challenges we all face. And learning alongside such a wide range of people verifies the statement of Thomas Campbell two centuries ago:

[A]ll that are enabled, thro’ grace, to make such a profession, and to manifest the reality of it in their tempers and conduct, should consider each other as the precious saints of God, should love each other as brethren, children of the same family and father, temples of the same spirit, members of the same body, subjects of the same grace, objects of the same divine love, bought with the same price, and joint heirs of the same inheritance. Whom God hath thus joined together, no man should dare to put asunder. (Declaration & Address, Proposition 9)

Surely this vision, so central to our identity in Churches of Christ, is true, and it is important that we both believe it and act upon it. Living in a city in which God clearly works inspires us to think about how we are doing our part. More »

Questions that Matter Most by Matt Hale

by   |  04.21.15  |  Uncategorized

HaleThere is a genre of stories told among Church of Christ ministers (and occasionally graduate students) that goes something like this:

“I was teaching a class/preaching a sermon/leading a devo, and the subject was controversial topic x. While everyone was milling about afterwards, an old person came up to me and asked why I said A about x when the Bible clearly says B. I tried to explain to her what the Bible really says about x, but you know how it is.”

The conventional audience response is an empathetic eye-roll, a shaking of the head, and another story about how those old-school folks can really get us down. The unspoken upshot of these conversations is that “one glad morning” when their “life is o’er”, we’ll “fly away” from their irrational, conservative restrictions and sing praise hymns accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a fog machine, and preach about whatever we like behind a very small, transparent lectern. We will have to endure these trials for a time, and then the church will be ours.

Having worked mostly in small-town, rural, conservative churches, I have had some experiences like these, more than a few. They can be very frustrating. Recently, however, I have begun to wonder if the attitude of dismissiveness is the only possible option. And I have wondered if I have misplaced blame for these experiences. I would like to blame their close-mindedness, or their lack of access to the kind of theological education I have received. But when I am honest, I admit the blame must lie with me, because I would rather be dismissive than take on the loving, patient, and careful work of explaining my position to them in a way they can accept, or at least understand.

If I want to console myself a bit, I can remember that it is very tempting to dismiss those with whom we disagree, particularly when they are naïve, ignorant, and inarticulate. Why take the time to truly engage with them, to give ear to their questions and answer them properly, when I can call them “uneducated”, “conservative”, “patriarchal”, “heternormative”, “reactionary’, “nationalistic”, or “old-school”? Of course, this is even easier and more tempting if all I am really good at is deconstructing a position, but have never done the hard work of constructing something better.

This temptation, however, must be resisted. I am beginning to wonder whether, paradoxically, it is not the “progressive” young-folk who are asking the most subversive and important questions, but rather the old lady who wonders why the communion table has been moved to the back of the church? Or perhaps it is the octogenarian who wants to know if the preacher really think scripture is inspired, a question he is not ready to answer even though he should be. Maybe it is the grumpy old man who says he doesn’t like instrumental music because of the Bible, but it is really because it makes him feel left out of the worship because he can’t hear his own voice over the practiced praise-team and drums. Though their questions can reflect some unsophisticated assumptions, they are questions that demand answers. And maybe this frustrates me because it isn’t their lack of reflection that is revealed when they ask these questions. Maybe it is mine, my unpreparedness and inability to directly answer their concerns, carefully leading them through the morass to deeper spiritual nourishment like a good teacher must.

Soon, these “old-school” folks will be gone, and while we will lose their “literalism” and “legalism”, we will also lose their invaluable questions. But we will lose more than that. We will also lose their love of scripture, their unhesitating generosity, their commitment to truth, and their faith. When I have lost my most irritating interlocutor, who will drive a dozen hungry neighborhood kids to church twice a week in a wood-paneled van? When inane scripture wars finally end, who will take potato salad and casseroles to the bereaved, and the Lord’s Supper to the shut-ins? When they are gone, these will be the troubling questions posed to us, their final subversive inquisition. Once again, they will have unmasked us, and rightly so. More »

News from Israel by Mark Hamilton

by   |  03.25.15  |  Uncategorized

To many people, the word “sabbatical” conjures up images of professors sitting on the beach sipping cold drinks or something equally restful and unproductive. In reality, however, sabbatical time for professors is usually a time to retool and create new works of scholarship that will also serve their teaching.

This was certainly the case for me last fall. I had the privilege of serving as the Seymour Gitin Professor at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research (AIAR) in East Jerusalem. Sy Gitin was the longtime director of the Albright and one of the most illustrious archaeologists of the past generation, and so it was an honor to bear a senior fellowship bearing his name. The Albright Institute, in turn, is named for the great Syro-Palestinian archaeologist William F. Albright, whose influence has been felt far and wide for many decades. Again, a great honor.

So what does the holder of a fellowship (i.e., a fellow, whether male or female) at a research institute like the Albright do for four and half months? First of all, I lived in the building you see in the attached pictures, a grand old structure representing the best of Palestinian archaeology from the last century. Several fellows lived in dormitory-like conditions (private rooms but with the bathroom down the hall), a situation very conducive for work, but also for new friendships. These scholars, both men and women, came from several countries (the U.S., Britain, Hungary, China, and Malaysia) and worked on projects ranging from Mycenaean pottery to Iron Age Israelite seals to Middle Kingdom Egyptian texts. Our only daily duty was to share dinner together each evening in the Institute’s dining room. This is a great community of young and not so young scholars (from those writing PhD dissertations to more senior scholars), who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and learned from each other.

The second thing I did was write and read, all day, every day. The Albright has a fine library of its own, particularly for the archaeology of Palestine/Israel, but three blocks away is one of the half dozen best theological libraries in the world, at the Ecole Biblique et archaeologique française, a Dominican house of study world renowned for its scholarship. For more information, see their website at My project is a book I’m writing on the idea of God as king. It’s a theme I’ve been working on for several years and hope to finish in the next year or so.

The third thing I got to do was tour. Since the fellows at the Albright are all scholars, and most are archaeologists (with a few of us biblical people thrown in to liven things up!), this was an exciting thing to do. We had the privilege of touring ongoing excavations usually led by the primary excavator or his or her most senior assistant. This is always an opportunity to learn a lot, and not the run-of-the-mill touristy sort of trip.

And lastly, the time in Israel was an opportunity to pray and to think about my relationship with God. To pray inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, near the probable site of Jesus’ passion, is of course a moving thing. So also are joining on many Sabbaths with a messianic synagogue in their pursuit of a relationship with Yeshua ha-Mashiach, praying in the Anglican Church of St. George, and attending a Christmas Eve service in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity with Palestinian Christians. All these were meaningful experiences for my own walk. Also, living with a number of people who are not Christians, but are marvelous and honorable people, gave me an opportunity to become clearer about what it means to be salt and light in the world. More »

New Article by Dr. Mindi Thompson

by   |  03.27.14  |  Uncategorized

Continuing Education for Faculty

Continuing education for seminary faculty used to be based on keeping up with your primary area of study: reading, publication, guild conferences, and the like. Unfortunately, that is no longer enough. Today, faculty must not only be masters of their subject; they must also master instructional design, educational technology, and accreditation standards. Keeping up with the newest trends in social learning, contextual education, or MOOC madness may lead many faculty to wonder what happened to good old-fashioned classroom lectures—or to classrooms at all! While recent MDiv graduates serving their first congregations are saying, “They never taught me about this in seminary,” I’m hearing more and more of my colleagues saying, “I never learned about this in my doctoral program.”

See the whole article here.

Congratulations to Carson Reed

by   |  02.12.14  |  Announcements, Uncategorized

For thousands of years religious communities have depended on scholars to read, interpret, and analyze faith and the scriptures it is based on. The field of theology is highly academic, but it also influences peoples’ lives on a deep, spiritual level, and the most respected theological scholars can have profound effects on the many faithful people that read their work. The idea of participating in theological research and scholarship is appealing for many seminary students. Becoming a professor and teaching the next generation of theological scholars is an attractive career choice both from a spiritual and an intellectual point of view. However, it is not necessarily an easy path. Any theology student considering becoming a teacher or professor should look to those who have come before them for guidance and inspiration.

The professors and scholars mentioned here have not only contributed to the body of theological knowledge with their research, but they have also contributed to the preparation of a new generation of theologians. Each of these individuals can serve as a remarkable role model for current theology students who aim to become educators. These are listed in no specific order, and are categorized by the general region of the most recent institution they taught at. This list focuses on theological scholars who work and teach in the United States, though many of them are known and respected internationally.

100 Remarkable Professors


Carson E. Reed

Carson E. Reed

Carson E. Reed is the Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Ministry Program at Abilene Christian University. He often looks at congregations, spiritual music, ministerial callings, as well as theology and practice.

Who are the 81%

by   |  11.15.13  |  Uncategorized

Recently, the blogosphere has pursued the topic, “the value of a seminary education.” One of the statistics that has grabbed the headlines is “81% of all incoming students do not expect to have a full-time position in parish ministry according to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).” The headline begs the question, “Who are the 81%?” The short answer is, “godly men and women who desire to serve God for the sake of the world.”

What the headline fails to report is that ATS indicates that the Entering Student Questionnaire (ESQ) also has findings for a total of 23 items including chaplaincy, missions, youth ministry, and campus ministry, which are not included in the sound byte. When all of these wonderful forms of ministry that make up the 81% are included, the alarm is but a clanging cymbal. For example, one year the ESQ for the GST indicated that 50% of our incoming class planned to enter foreign missions, church planting, and youth ministry. We were proud of that entering class even though it had fewer students indicating pulpit ministry. As described below, 66% of the GST’s graduates do plan to work in church ministry in one form or another.

I entered seminary indicating I wanted to do a church planting in Utah. I graduated taking a position to plant a church in New Jersey. I spent 17 years in full-time domestic missions and pulpit ministry. My story is part of the 81%. I do not believe my story should raise any red flags for the demise of a seminary education.

More telling is the story told by the Graduating Student Questionnaire (GSQ). Our sixteen-year story is summarized in the chart below highlighting last year’s graduating class.

GST Graduate Student Questionnaire  (MDiv, MACM, MAMI, MA)



       16 Year Average More »

African American Preaching

by   |  10.08.13  |  Uncategorized

Recently, two resources directly related to black preaching were developed in order to serve churches.

  • Black Preachers Archived at Duke Chapel provides audio examples of some of the best of black preaching and is located here. Duke University press release is located here.
  • The African American Lectionary is a resource that provides commentary, cultural aids, and liturgical resources that address particular needs of the African American community. Link

Together, both resources provide an abundance of wealth that will enrich any ministry and sustain healthy practices.

@ see also my bibliography under the sidebar link to resources or sidebar link to articles.

Contextual Theology

by   |  09.05.13  |  Uncategorized

A Brief History of Practical Theology

by   |  07.24.13  |  Uncategorized

Teaching Preaching

by   |  06.25.13  |  Uncategorized

I love preaching. I preached my first sermon when I was 13 years old. The congregation allowed me to preach any Sunday night I wanted as long as our preacher read every sermon before I preached it. One deacon drove me to nearby towns so I could preach.  Others in the congregation affirmed and encouraged me. And because of my home church, I heard my calling. My home church birthed and fostered my love of preaching.

I admire good preaching. I spend more time thinking about preaching than any other subject. And I am thankful that ACU gives me the opportunity to teach preachers how to preach; to be able to help students grow in their professional and personal identity.

While I teach in a school, preaching cannot remain in a laboratory. Preaching is not a “solo performance” or a “spectator sport.” Preaching is a communal activity. One voice cannot be the only voice that reverberates for the whole community. Preaching involves listening to the many voices that make up the Body of Christ. Listening does not lead to fragmentation or a discordant cacophony, but through communal discernment, pastoral care, and context awareness, preaching becomes a living witness to God’s activities among the congregation. In dialog with Scripture, Church, and Community, a new and living word is possible. Otherwise, preaching is mere talk about the same old things in the same old ways.

And preachers develop different styles and voices. My primary objective is not to force preachers to preach like me but to find their own homiletical voice. Even I do not preach with the same style to a congregation of 2000 as I do to a congregation of 20. A Metroplex preacher will sound differently than someone from the east coast. Someone with a teaching voice may exemplify one way of doing the task while someone else uses a testimonial voice. Preachers come in all different shapes and sizes. And the church needs them all. While I might compare and contrast those styles so that my perspective is clarified, I’m not seeking to dilute or deform anyone’s gift or cast suspicion on another’s faith. My primary gift to teaching preaching is my ability to hear the what and how of the homiletical moment. I might even critique a famous preacher like Craddock or Willimon, but only for the pedagogical objective of letting the student’s own homiletical wings take flight. I might through hyperbole swing the pendulum one way, but only so the student can intentionally choose the arc their own style will swing.
So, how do people learn to preach? The short answer is: “They just do.” However, people do not “just do it.” They have to “figure it out,” to “get the feel” of preaching for themselves. William Willimon compares the teaching of preaching to the teaching of woodcarving and the making of biscuits.
So there’s a sense of which I still don’t know a lot about teaching preaching. I mean, I realize that seeds are planted – were planted in me – which didn’t bear fruit until years later. I realize that it’s more like learning how to carve wood than it is a technique of first you do this, second you do that. You’ve got to get the feel of it. You have to – it’s more like learning to make biscuits than it is how to write an essay on something. (personal correspondence with the author)
Learning “how-to” is more easily and safely negotiated if it is not undertaken alone. Let’s take biscuits for example. Studying a cookbook or watching an infomercial does not miraculously produce master chefs. Total recall of principles and propositions that follow the recipe line-by-line will not necessarily produce melt in your mouth biscuits. Somehow, the “knack” is missing. But when Grandma stands over your shoulder, another experience all together occurs. More »

New Book Released by ACU Press

by   |  06.19.13  |  Uncategorized

The Effective Practice of Ministry:

Essays in Memory of Charles Siburt


 Effective Practice

Tim Sensing, editor

ISBN 978-0-89112-328-6

306 ppg

$25.00+ shipping, tax (if appl.)

Few people have made a larger contribution to the ongoing life and health of Churches of Christ around the world than Charles Siburt. During his twenty-four years at Abilene Christian University, Siburt oversaw some fifty DMin theses–a capstone experience designed to recount best practices in congregational life. More »

The Effective Practice of Ministry

by   |  06.19.13  |  Uncategorized

Faith Community Research Project

by   |  06.05.13  |  Uncategorized

Recently I was asked to speak to a gathering of Elders in Dallas on the topic, “What are young people looking for in a church?” It’s a good question. I understand why they are asking the question. They look around their Sunday assemblies and they see less and less twenty somethings in attendance. And the question is not all about—”How can we be more attractive? How can we be the cool church in town?” No, no, —I believe the question from these Elders comes from a deep desire to serve, a conviction that the future of the church is dependent on raising the next faithful generation.

  • Their question is similar to John Westerhoff’s question, “Will our children have faith?” Or, as it is sometimes rendered, “Will our faith have children?” It is a good question. “How can our church be more attentive to the faith of the next generation?” “When the next generation looks to the church, will they come to faith?”
  • To answer the question, I decided to conduct my own original research. I sent out a survey via the web (see the link below). My primary question is, “Why do you or do you not participate in a faith community?” I plan to answer the Elders in Dallas by giving voice to the twenty-somethings. In their own words, this is what they want Elders to hear. And it is only after we have listened, will we know how to respond. Now, like most researchers, whether they confess it or not, I have a bias. My bias is optimistic. I am hopeful. And I believe the word that comes back to these Elders in Dallas will edify them. [2 weeks; 250 responses; and my bias so far is holding steady].

The question remains for all of us no matter your age, “What are you looking for when you come to this place on any given Sunday? What do you hope to See? Hear? What do you expect?

The link for the survey is here.

Eventually, the results will be presented at the November 2013 ElderLink. Additionally, I intend to publish the results in various venues.

I welcome your participation. Forward the link to your friends and family. Post the link on Facebook. Tweet the link to the world. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, I hope the question builds momentum.

Peace, Tim Sensing More »

Four of the Big Ideas of Christianity (4)

by   |  11.01.12  |  Uncategorized

This is the last of a series of talks given recently about major ideas of Christianity.  In a time of rapid, widespread, and not easily understood change, it’s important to be clear about the small number of things that truly matter.  Hence this series.  Any comments would be most welcome.  Big Idea 4 Salvation

Four of the Big Ideas of Christianity (3)

by   |  10.25.12  |  Uncategorized

The third in a series of talks on the main ideas of Christianity, this time on revelation.   Big Idea 3 Revelation