August 1, 2016
Sphere # 3: Gloabal relationships
As we conclude this short three-week series of articles focused on the geographic or ministry areas we serve as Sioux Falls Seminary, we widen our gaze to the nation and the globe.
Our work at Sioux Falls Seminary focuses on three specific geographic spheres or areas of influence. We feel God has called us to focus on people and relationships that: 1) reside within 70 miles of one of our locations, 2) dwell in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, or Nebraska, or 3) are actively engaged in ministry anywhere on the globe and have a desire to grow in their faithfulness to God and God’s mission. Within each sphere we seek to create partnerships with kingdom-minded ministries, work with students and clients, and ultimately develop faithful servants of Jesus Christ. Today, our topic of conversation is Sphere #3: People that are actively engaged in ministry anywhere around the world and have a desire to grow in their faithfulness to God and God’s mission or relationships across the globe that work closely with people engaged in ministry. When we widen our gaze to the entire globe, we also narrow our focus to our work in theological education. Our discussions the past two weeks have included conversations about our counseling and educational work. Today, however, we will only look closely at theological education.
As we discussed last week, we develop servants who will participate in God’s kingdom mission by helping them grow where they are planted. Over the past two and one half years, we have created several new and exciting opportunities for people to engage in theological education without needing to live near Sioux Falls. At the same time, we have learned that these opportunities work best when the students are actively engaged in ministry or have a desire to pursue a specific type of ministry.
We believe God has called Sioux Falls Seminary to create systems of theological education that are affordable, accessible, and relevant while remaining faithful to the unshakeable truth of God’s word and to the essence of theological education that results in transformation. In doing so, we believe we must serve people throughout North America and around the world. As of now, we have students from 10 different states, 5 different countries, and 3 different continents. Sphere #3 calls us to identify ways in which we can serve well those God has called to serve.
By widening our gaze to include all of North America and indeed the globe, we must also narrow our focus on a specific type of work. In the case of Sioux Falls Seminary, that narrowed focus requires us to think very critically about our programs and services so that they can serve a specific type of person. Put simply, we are not called to serve everyone in North America and around the globe. Instead, we believe that when we are working with people outside of our five-state region, we must do so in ways that allow that person to stay where God has planted him or her, rather than require this person to move to Sioux Falls.
Currently, the Kairos Project is a great example of how we can work with people from around North America and around the globe. It also means that when we develop international partnerships like the one we have with our brothers and sisters in Cameroon, we create systems of theological education that work alongside partners in that region so students can be engaged in theological education in their local contexts, as well.
At its core, theological education works best when those engaged in an educational program are required, on a daily basis, to put into practice what they are learning and are provided with a safe space to let God transform their character. This reality is a driving force behind each geographic sphere in which Sioux Falls Seminary operates. It is especially important when walking alongside students in Sphere #3.
Next week, we will close this conversation by looking at what it means to serve people well in each of the three spheres we operate.