Kairos Series: Practices of CBTE

December 7, 2020

by Greg Henson, President

Last week, we introduced the principles of competency-based theological education (CBTE) by sharing some of the attributes of CBTE programs. This week, we turn our focus to the practices that reinforce these principles.

Practices of CBTE
Just like the educational journey is fully integrated (whether we want to believe it is or not), organizational systems are as well. That means that the principles of CBTE must be supported by organizational practices that reinforce the principles. In our experiences over the past decade, it seems as though these are important practices to consider.

Collaborative Governance: The traditional approaches to governance in higher education will not support CBTE well. Instead, we need to build trust and empower voices that were once not welcome at the “governance table” in seminaries.

Unified Systems: Everything from the way a school thinks about transcripts to the way it sends emails to faculty, staff, board members, and students is inextricably linked. We need to build systems that embrace this reality.

Flexible Technology: The technology we use and the way we choose to use it must be as flexible as the educational journey is for students.

Affordable Programs: Scholarships do not make education affordable because they shift the burden of cost to other parts of the church. If CBTE is really just collaborative participation in the Great Commission, we must create programs that are inherently inexpensive to operate.

Ongoing Iteration: CBTE organizations will recognize that ongoing and unending change is a natural byproduct of being Spirit-led. That is to say that CBTE will invite practices that allow for, and even encourage, ongoing improvement.

Quality Framework: To manage all of this well, a CBTE system will need to articulate its understanding of quality and then develop a framework that allows this understanding to be lived out in practice. For example, if standards of excellence are contextually defined, what process will a CBTE program use to create these definitions?

Moving Forward
Taken together, the principles and practices are intended to create a platform on which a vast array of discipleship journeys can be built. From stewarding followers of Jesus who flourish as pastors or parachurch leaders to those who thrive as software engineers, real estate agents, and financial planners, CBTE programs have the potential to create fresh expressions of education that (hopefully) move us toward integrative living. Over the next several weeks, we are going to look at these principles and practices as we explore the ways in which they are implemented within Kairos. Along the way, we may discover several opportunities to live into the “new way of learning” that David Williams invited us to consider as he read through Romans.

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