Theological education in North America: Crises and faithful creativity

By Philip Thompson, Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Heritage

August 12, 2019

Published by The Christian Citizen
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I began this series of brief articles noting the poet Scott Cairns has defined repentance as “turning toward,” and summarized the crises facing theological education as being ones of relevance and cost. I introduced Sioux Falls Seminary’s Kairos Project as one example of turning toward new approaches to theological education. Last month, I focused on our turn toward a contextual, theologically-informed outcomes-based educational philosophy in response to the first crisis. It is, without question, an innovative turn, yet not without precedent. It extends and modifies innovations over the last several decades in the area of competency-based education.

This month I will introduce the more revolutionary turn, one to a new financial model. A key tenet of Kairos is integrated organizational development. The Kairos Project is built on overlapping, indeed interlocking, philosophies of education and organizational design. In many ways, one cannot fully be embraced without the other. While the extent of connection cannot be conveyed adequately in an article of this length, the two cannot be separated.

I have shared some of the ways in which God has been active within students’ contexts to enable flourishing life, what Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun have called “the mode of the true life under the conditions of the false.” It would hardly be fitting were the seminary in which they study not to seek equally to contribute to and promote flourishing. An important part of the story of Sioux Falls Seminary’s Kairos Project is its own commitment to faithful stewardship in the fulfillment of its institutional vocation for the sake of cultivating flourishing in ministry.

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