David Fitch asks, Is â€œM.A. in Missional Church Studiesâ€? an Oxymoron? Can Seminary Education be Missional?
I have been asked to head a new ministerial degree at Northern Seminary with an emphasis in Missional Church Studies (M.A. C.M.). The intent of the program is to deliberately prepare missional church planters/pastors theologically, culturally and practically for ministry in the post Christendom/postmodern cultures of North America. I have suggested we will need to structure a community life where we worship, eat and pray together in monastic ways. We will need certain practices of spiritual disciplines and a worship life together. We will need to do all of the above in modules, groups that can keep the same students together in training throughout their entire program. They will come together three to four times a year for one week, two week and/or three week intensive periods of study/class time, prayer, worship and community. Their work in the field will be coordinated with education in theological and historical study. We will coordinate a network of missional churches that can feed off the interns that provide the fertile ground for the working out of our theology over time. The end will be the well prepared person, spiritually, intellectually, character-wise, and skills wise for the task, the very different task of leading a missional community in our times. They will all look different from the traditional pastoral candidates of the past and from one context to the next.
He goes on to offer his thoughts on core courses for the program, and invites input. Definietly sounds intriguing to me, and though this particular post isn’t a thorough defence of the continuing need for seminary education despite the newer milieu which is sometimes seen as negating the institution if not the format of the seminary.
I just saw this tonight also. Interesting isn’t it? What he is saying, in so many words, is that a hermeneutical community must first exist. Really.. there is no formation apart from community. This is the direction that most DMN studies are moving, but David will take it a step further.
My only negative thought in response to this, though, is that it sounds so programmatic! I feel lately like when people grasp the idea of community and missional living/ministry, etc., that they immediately want to teach others how to do it, and that requires adding a structure to it that immediately begins (in my very humble and perhaps wrong opinion) to detract from the very organic nature of it all.
I dunno. I’m working through all of this. I’d love to hear other thoughts on this aspect of it.