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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What I've Been Learning So Far...

The picture above was taking this past Sunday as all of the Beeson Pastor families worshiped together. Here Carolyn is teaching the kids about Christ's love for the lost sheep as they sit at her feet listening and learning (as well as looking back at their parents). These past few months I have felt like a kid sitting at the feet of some great teachers. Here is, in a nutshell, what God has been teaching me through the various classes and events I've experienced thus far:

Spirituality of Leadership Course: I was challenged to lead out of the depths of my relationships with Christ and others, as opposed to leading solely from the shallow waters of tasks and techniques. In other words, who I am as a leader makes a greater impact than what I do as a leader. The retreat at the monastery was a key component of this course and it provided some extended time for God to speak into my life about various obstacles that were preventing me from becoming the kind of person and leader He is shaping me to be.

Preaching Course: I had the opportunity in this class to preach two sermons, one from the OT and the other from the NT. After each of us preached we received both positive and constructively critical feedback from classmates and the professor. Through this experience of preaching, as well as course lectures and readings, I am learning to rediscover just how dependent I am upon the Holy Spirit to guide and empower my preaching. While methods and gifts are important for preaching, the Holy Spirit is the most indispensable requirement for impact in the preaching event.

Theology of Ministry Course: We wrestled with our true calling as pastors. We asked the question, according to Scripture and Church Tradition who are pastors called to be and what are we really called to do? To answer this question we considered how the ministry of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity form the foundation of our vocation. Jesus Christ laid down his life for the sheep, and the good shepherd/pastor, for the right reasons, does the same for the sheep/church. Pastoral ministry becomes most liberating and empowered when we realize that we are not called to recreate the wheel or do ministry on our own; the ministry we have been called to is the ministry of the Son to the Father through the Holy Spirit. Pastors are called to do what God is doing. Lots more could be said.

Anthropology Course: This week we are studying how to bring the timeless gospel of Christ cross cultures in a way that both maintains the gospel and the best of that culture. This is called contextualizing the gospel and involves putting the gospel in a container that a given culture can drink from, again without compromising either the gospel or the culture. One of my assignments will be to go to a church different from the one I pastor and compare the two church cultures. This is called an ethnographic study.

Dissertation: In addition to these courses, I'm steadily gathering resources and developing thoughts about my dissertation on the Spirituality of Preaching. My goal is to basically develop the dissertation into a project that will assist pastors in going about the development and delivery of sermons in a manner that infuses spiritual disciplines throughout the homiletic process.

Church Visits: Me, Amy and the kids have visited a different church just about every week. This is something I haven't been able to do for the 12 years that I've been a pastor. It's been an eye opening experience that both confirms and challenges some things at SWC (the church I pastor). This experience has given me lots of ideas and insights that I look forward to implementing in ministry.

Family/Friends: One of the greatest joys has been the extra time that I've had with Amy, Zach, Lia, and Sam. Our bond as a family is deepening as we go through this experience together. Zach is playing tee-ball, Lia is doing ballet lessons, and Sam continues to eat like a horse! Amy and I are getting a date night every other week by swapping baby sitting responsibilities with other couples in the program. We look at each other and our kids and realize, with gratitude to God, how blessed we are. We have also come to really value the others who are part of the Beeson Program. They have become our family. It's like having 10 brothers and 10 sisters with about 25 nieces and nephews. We genuinely love and care about each other. This has been the best fringe benefit of the program!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an exciting growth experience. My Pastor speaks very fondly of his Beeson experience. It is interesting to hear about it as it happens.

My Pastor mentioned one thing about the Beeson Program that surprised me; he said that most of what he learned about ministry, in College and Seminary, was largely thrown out the window - that the methods he uses today have little in common with what he had been taught prior to entering the Beeson Program. Is your Beeson experience similar in that respect?

Don't you think its about time for a few more pictures of those adorable children of yours?!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Martin. I wouldn't say that either college r seminary was athrow away experience. Both were valuable and vital to my development as a person and as a pastor. I too am enjoying this experience immensely. More pics of the kids will follow.

Anonymous said...

While my Pastor would not discount his College and Seminary Education and experience, he does describe his Beeson training as negating a lot of what he was taught previously. I think he too would value his College and Seminary time for the same reasons you mentioned. He did say that the Beeson Program changed his whole approach to ministry and that he is far more effective than before entering the program. I did sense that he feels that most "Wesleyan" (Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Methodists, etc) Pastors leave College and Seminary without many of the tools they need for effective ministry.

Well, I could have said that with many fewer words. Sorry!

I really do enjoy your blog. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with your congregation and your friends.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Martin. My prayer is that God would use this Beeson Program to increase my love for Him, my love for people and my skills for ministry.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lenny

Hope all is well

Don't know if you heard this yet. But New Enland got busted cheating againts the Jets last sunday. BY filming the coaches of Jets. Then playing back the tapes, to see what plays were called.

There is now to go back further and check other games.

The first game they are checking is Eagles VS Pats super bowl.
The could loose there 05 super bowl tittle

See you on the 30th
Chris Fosco

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris. I'll look forward to seeing you on September 30. Hopefully the Eagles will get that Super Bowl ring!

Say hello to Gina and the girls.


debbie bond said...

Pastor Lenny,
It's great to hear how God is stretching you. I envy you(in a good way) for going through this experience. It will be exciting when you come back to SWC to help us get to the "next level".
I look foward to seeing you and the family on the 30th.
I am also excited for Pastor Tim going through his Ordination this month. It's going to take me many years, but I prayerfully will be there some day!!
Say hi to Amy for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Deb. One of these days you'll be ordained too...there will be much rejoicing! I'm proud of you for taking the steps!

Anonymous said...

Good day sir,

I wanted to take a minute and say how you seem to be growing in your calling, still learning as you continue the journey. This journey appears to be teaching you both the 'right' and 'wrong' ways and showing you which roads to choose. I'm glad that you're having this experience and that you are enjoying it immensely (who said that learning can't be fun!). Bring back to SWC all that will continue to help us in our own growth journey.

Say 'hello' to Amy and the kids for me. Love, hugs, kisses to you all.