Learning objectives for theological education

Our focus where I teach is on training men to plant and pastor churches in the cities of the MENASA region (=Middle East, North Africa, South Asia). We’ve had to ponder specifically what we want the results of our program to be – what are we laboring to instill in students before they graduate? Well, we’ve got a few ideas. Indeed, here’s fourteen targets we’re using as we plan curriculum and mentor students. By graduation, we want to see students demonstrate: 1. Skill to faithfully exegete texts from any biblical genre and apply exegetical logic in all ministry contexts Students need understanding of how different texts/genres function, knowledge of history and background, awareness of how to handle problems and use external sources correctly, and proficiency in grammatical, lexical, and contextual analysis of the text itself. With this exegetical acumen comes the ability to use exegetical logic to carry out all kinds of ministry in all kinds of contexts in a way directly

tied to the accurate meaning of the biblical text. 2. Gospel clarity in his target context If pastors are being sent to the nations to preach salvation they need to know how to preach salvation. So we need students to understand the basic, unchanging, message of the gospel, and communicate that message in a way that the particular people they are going to be speaking can understand. 3. Ability to teach and preach the Bible with accuracy, clarity, passion, and fruitfulness All good preaching is faithful preaching, but not all faithful preaching is good. Effective urban pastors will need to be both, and getting there involves training in best practices for preparation and communication, but more than that practice and coaching that develops students from beginning preachers to able servants of the body of Christ. 4. Foundational knowledge of and convictional competence in the Bible, biblical theology, and systematic theology Christian pastors must know what they believe because the…

Applying the authority of God in exegetical ministry and theological training

Ministry begins with God himself, and the absolute authority belonging to him as creator of all things. Believing the Bible is the inerrant and authoritative word of this God, we must approach the Bible with the goal not of using it for our work, but submitting to it as God’s word. How can we practically submit to God’s word in various ministry contexts? And how can we train leaders for a ministry that is obedient to the authority of God? Imagine the various theological disciplines in a pyramid: Disciplinary Order The starting point is biblical exegesis, the task of carefully reading and discovering the intended meaning of biblical texts in their original language and contexts. Then we move to biblical theology, wherein we put together the results of our exegesis to understand the theological message of a given section of Scripture, or how a given theme is developed throughout Scripture. Then, and only then, we can develop a systematic theology,

based on our exegesis and biblical theology, that synthesizes logically the teaching of the entire Bible. Finally, we can apply our systematic theology, biblical theology, and exegesis by building a philosophy and practice of specific ministries, such as preaching or counseling. And by following all of these steps the result is a church life and mission that are thoroughly biblical, faithful, and operating in submission to God through his Word. To look at it from the other direction, we might ask - “why is expository preaching so important to the ministry of a church?” (level 5). The answer to that is found in our biblical philosophy of preaching (level 4), which is simply systematic theology (e.g. doctrines of Scripture, of man, of salvation) together with biblical imperatives about preaching (level 3), which is based on a biblical theology and story of a God who communicates and reveals himself through proclamation (level 2), which is based on the exegesis of individual…

Considering a five-stage schema for planning training in various disciplines

Building from the last post about conscious competence, a few words about another educational model. In 1980 brothers Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus were researching how to best train Air Force pilots. In the course of this study, they developed a “five-stage model of the mental activities involved in directed skill acquisition.” Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you can download their original report in all its typewritten glory. The Dreyfus brothers propose that as a student acquires a new skill through formal instruction and practice he must pass through five stages: 1. Novice Lacking experience, the student is taught to recognize certain features of an environment. He is then given rules for deciding how to act in response to those features. He doesn’t understand what is going on, per se, but he can follow the steps he’s been taught. The stage is characterized by rigidly adhering to the rules and not exercising discretionary judgment. 2. Competence One moves

from the novice stage to competence after considerable experience in real situations with an instructor pointing our recurring patterns. The student begins to understand better the context and meaning of the rules he’d previously been taught. Still, all aspects of the work are treated separately with equal importance. 3. Proficiency With increased practice, the student is now able to view the whole situation in connection to long-term goals, and various aspects of the situation become more or less important depending on their relevance to the goal. He is now in a position to judge which steps are more or less relevant to this particular situation, and deliberately plan based on the specific situation. 4. Expertise Up to this point, students have relied on rules to know how to connect what is generally true to their specific situation. But an expert, relying on a great deal of experience, is in a position where the response to each specific situation is customized and…