April 18, 2016
If you spend enough time around me you will hear me say that Sioux Falls Seminary is called to develop systems of theological education and integrated counseling that are affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful. I believe that sentence best articulates the ways in which Sioux Falls Seminary participates in God’s kingdom mission.
But what, you may wonder, does that sentence actually mean? If, as we shared in the past few weeks, the future of Sioux Falls Seminary is built around the idea of developing servants for their participation in the kingdom mission by creating these affordable, accessible, relevant, systems of theological education and integrated counseling, it may be helpful to look more closely at exactly what we mean. To do that, I will provide a brief explanation of each component. However, the best explanation may come through a story, which will be shared in next week’s post.
Systems of Theological Education
We believe theological education is too important to be accomplished solely through the work of a seminary. Instead, we partner with churches, nonprofits, ministry training organizations, and other kingdom-minded ministries to create an integrated system of theological education in which all components enhance the others. Here is a video that helps to explain our thinking.
In our counseling clinic and counseling programs, we bring together biblical truth and psychological data in a way that allows our clients to feel more whole and our students to become excellent integrative therapists.
Affordability means more than offering scholarships to students and clients so that they do not bear the entire burden of cost. While scholarships are important, and we do offer them, they do not make anything more affordable. They merely shift the burden of cost. Instead, we focus on significantly decreasing our cost to educate a student and serve a client. In doing so, we reduce the price of education and service. I wrote more about this concept a couple of years ago. You can read it on my blog.
Accessibility is expressed both in location and by level. Our programs and services are accessible to those God places in our care, no matter where God has called them to serve. In this way, those we serve are able to grow where God has planted them. Some people need high-level academic study or long-term therapy, while others may desire certificate-level education or a one-time conversation that brings hope. In all cases, the primary goal is to meet people where they are.
Theological education and therapy should address the student or client’s context and not seek to be one size fits all. In order to provide relevant experiences for those God places in our care, we seek to fully integrate each individual’s life, ministry, and calling into his or her journey with us.
We remain faithful to our Baptistic, evangelical heritage: a heritage that is characterized by a high-view of scripture. In addition, we remain faithful to the essence of spiritual formation that must happen while a student is engaged in theological education. Delivery methods, technology, and more will change, but we must always hold in high regard the essence of theological education.
Next Week’s Story
There are many people God has called to engage in his work. If we are to serve them well, we must have systems of theological education that are affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful. Next week we are excited to share how God is at work in and through Sioux Falls Seminary and one of our students to bring about such a future.