TheoEd Talks

Several years ago, our church began wondering how to advance church-based theological education. While the church continued its traditional Sunday school and adult bible study programs, we also perceived that the culture around us was changing. Our members (and potential members!) interacted with sophisticated, on-demand technology every day in their offices and homes. Those in our community listened to podcasts as they commuted and streamed YouTube videos in the evening.  How could we better leverage technology in our Christian Education programs? Could we think more creatively about how to deliver our programming to an increasingly busy and technologically-savvy congregation?

These wonderings led to the development of “TheoEd Talks.” This program brings together leading thinkers from the academy, the church, and the non-profit sector. Each speaker offers a 20-minute talk designed to spark meaningful conversations on how we think about the Bible, theology, and faithful engagement in the world. These talks will be recorded on audio and video and made available through our website as a free, public resource for download.

The first series of talks will feature: Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Dr. Brent Strawn, Professor of Old Testament at Emory University; and Dr. Gregory Ellison, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling. The inaugural live recording will be held at First Presbyterian Church on the evening of Sunday September 24, 2017 from 5:00-7:00pm in Fifield Hall.

To register or for more information, visit our site at: theoed.com  or contact us at: theoed.com@gmail.com.

Cassie Waits,Stembler Fellow for Adult Discipleship, First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Georgia

Cassie Waits graduated in May from Columbia Theological Seminary in the Masters of Divinity Program. To read her complete essay on the rationale behind TheoEd Talks, which won the Julia Abdullah Award for innovative educational ministry design, click on the file linked here.

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And the Survey Says . . .

Sharon Ely Pearson shared the results of her ecumenical curriculum survey on her own blog. I wonder how your ministry matches or challenges these results.

Rows of Sharon

4006230793_9b2742c25e_oAn on-line survey was held on a voluntary based during June 2016 to learn what curricular programs were being used in congregations with children, youth, and adults. The survey was disseminated through e-mail and social media (predominately Facebook groups) and various organizational list-serves (Forma, APCE, CEF,AUCE, and the Christian Education Network of the ELCA). The construction and results of the survey was conducted by the research group of the Church Pension Group, the parent company of Church Publishing Incorporated. The analysis of the data is strictly mine, and I take all responsibility for its interpretation.

Godly Playcontinues to be the most used program with children, with Montessori-type programs used by 36% of churches. The other three types of curriculum were lectionary-based (25%), Bible story based (30%), and workshop rotation model (9%). Most churches use a variety of resources, combining and tweaking them…

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Spiritual Disciplines

Amidst the busy lifestyles we Christians often lead in society, I can’t help but wonder what it looks likes to have our faith formed and grow. Yes, we have Sunday School and worship, and maybe even a Bible Study coupled with a mission opportunity or two. Some of us may be chaperones on youth trips or church officers, but in the middle of that, where is the Holy Spirit forming us and molding us? Are we even attuned to it? Continue reading

TED Talks for Parents

For several years my church has offered a parenting class as part of its mid-week programming. This class has looked at church-y books, secular books, and dvd-based how-to studies. Through it all, the main expectations from the parents have been: 1) keep it real, and 2) don’t expect us to read anything ahead of time.

This fall we’re using TED Talks as our curriculum, and we’re looking at these videos through the bifocal lenses of parenting and faith. Continue reading

WWJT

This last Saturday I was with a group from Salem Presbytery exploring what it means to be The Hopeful Church. We looked at the current state of Christian education in mainline churches, particularly the PC(USA). We talked  about how difficult it is to change the model of Sunday School with which many of us have grown up.

Then we tried an activity to break us out of our preconceived notions of what Christian Education is about. I called it WWJT, which could be translated “What Would Jesus Teach?” or “Where Would Jesus Teach?” Continue reading

The Essence of Being Human

Ubuntu is an African worldview that is hard to translate into Western culture. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has offered several definitions. One of them is “my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.” But he offers another definition, simple and profound, that resonates with me: Ubuntu is “the essence of being human.”

Two weeks ago a group of Columbia Theological Seminary students representing various ethnic and cultural traditions began their journey as Practical Theology students. None knew what to expect – of the school, the program or each other – but we were all united as one by the radical love of Jesus and the unifying power of the Spirit.

During an intense week-long session, half of the class journeyed to be with members of the Friendship Center of Holy Comforter Church. For over 15 years, the Friendship Center has provided services to individuals marginalized by poverty, serious mental illness, and disability. Funded by small grants, the Episcopal Diocese and friends, The Friendship Center offers three programs: Wellness and Recovery, Art and Gardening and Community and Relationship Building. Continue reading

The One Year Seminary

This is certainly one approach to adult education. I wonder how you structure your faith formation for adults. KLD

Columbia Connections

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Every once is a while (like last month, in fact) I get a call from a church leader wanting ideas about creating a mini-seminary in their congregations. While that idea is driven by a sincere desire to make Christian education more meaningful and effective in their congregations, I remain suspect of that approach. I believe that any congregation will be well-served by taking Christian education more seriously and, by going about its practice in more intentional ways. But I also believe that a seminary is one thing and a church another—and when it comes to educating in faith, the two should not be confused.

However, I appreciate the well-intentioned efforts of those who want a more rigorous “school of faith” in their congregations.

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