After Tim Keel presented on Tuesday, Ministers' School for me kind of went into auto-pilot. I was there, but more focused on managing the logistics, keeping things together, and doing my thing as chair of the board rather than actively participating in the school itself. However I did manage to snag a few bits and pieces from the other presenters.
We had Robert Martin from Saint Paul School of Theology lead morning Bible study Wednesday and Thursday. He took us through Paul's visit to Athens in Acts chapter 17. He noted how Paul had visited the city, getting to know his context, and observing the people's lives. Paul then went to them - into the marketplace - and "met them where they were" to talk with them about Jesus. In this way, Robert said, Paul was able to make Jesus incarnate for the people of Athens - which is what the church needs to do in our own particular contexts today.
Another of our presenters was Craig Miller, from the General Board of Discipleship. If you want to hear a rather standard, "party line" presentataion on church growth ideas, Craig Miller is your guy. After all, he is pretty much the denominational church growth person in his role on the GBOD. And his presentation was jarringly different from Tim Keel. While Tim said to emerge from within particular context, Craig generalized about churches and generations. While Tim cautioned against reductionism, Craig presented lists of things. While Tim said fruitfulness is what happens naturally, Craig said here is what fruitfulness should look like. I will say this, however: we got to play Guitar Hero on the big screen, which was pretty cool.
Our last presenter was Susan Cox-Johnson, who shared some of her thoughts about how the Emergent movement of today is kind of rooted in the Wesleyan movement of way back when. I confess that I was pretty busy during her talk, and so I didn't get too many details (sorry, Susan) - but I do remember how she compared Wesley's field preaching with the Emergent movement by making the claim that John Wesley was adapting his ministry to the context, and trying to figure out the best way to preach the Gospel in a new way so that it would be heard. Here's some more about her presentation.
Bishop Schnase led a little session that was supposed to be "Conversation with the Bishop" but kind of turned into a presentation by the Bishop instead. No big deal, it is always good to hear what Bish Schnay-Z is reading these days. His sermon during closing worship used the metaphors of sculling and white water rafting to illustrate what it's like to try to do church one way when the context really calls us to do things another way. As in, it would really hard to row a scull down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. He used time, but I would use context. Whereas his message was about how at one time sculling was a good enough model, now we have to white water raft. I might say that sculling works some places and other places necessitate rafting. And in fact, at our congregation's planning retreat Saturday afternoon, I did! (That's right, I stole it. And I'd do it again!)
With the end of this school, my two-year term as Chair of the Board ended, and now I am Dean of the School. (My Grandfather told me yesterday he was Dean of Missouri Ministers' School in the mid-1950s, which is kind of cool.) Instead of logistics and details, I'll be responsible for content and faculty. I've got to say, I'm pumped!
"Gutenberg 2.0: Proclaiming the Gospel in the Information Age"
Faculty (so far):
Tony Jones, Debra Mason, Billy Reeder
Just like the printing press did 500 years ago, digital technology has given people access to more information and means of communication than ever before. We know about text messages, online social network sites, streaming video feeds, and such - but what effect do these media have on the message? What does it mean to tell someone that God loves them via a text message? What does it mean to share Christian fellowship via a Facebook group? What does the doctrine of incarnation look like through a computer screen? Can my laptop be an icon through which I encounter the divine?
These kinds of questions (and more!) will frame Ministers' School in 2009, and I for one can't wait!