July 11, 2022
by Greg Henson, CEO, Kairos University and President, Sioux Falls Seminary, and Sarah Dorsey Bollinger, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Evangelical Legacy Faculty
Today, we are sharing the second post in a blog series that highlights a few of the questions that might be helpful to discern if you are considering a program with Kairos or are at the beginning stages of your journey with us. Last week, we began this series by calling attention to the fact that people should expect their journey in Kairos to be very different from their previous educational experiences. While we know your time at Kairos can be a fun, engaging, transformative, and life-giving journey, we also know that it might be challenging, frustrating, and confusing at times too. Because your journey is unique to you and customized to your context, vocation, and needs, we can’t tell you exactly what you will experience. But we can share some thoughts that we have gleaned from our experience working with students who have taken the journey before you.
One thing we have learned is that it is important, and helpful, to develop a clear understanding of why you are “here.” By this, we mean that prior to enrolling, or at least before you get too deep in your journey with Kairos, it will be helpful to reflect on why you are engaging in theological education. If your first answer to this question is “I need a degree,” we invite you to take some time to think more deeply about this particular journey. Let us explain.
Degrees are important. In some cases, they are even required for certain careers or professions. Ideally, a seminary degree offers the opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of the work that an individual is seeking to do, but it would also be a time of guidance in faithful living and personal growth. Yes, degrees are important. At the same time, however, there are many accredited, reputable, and biblically-rooted schools in which you can enroll and “get a degree.” There are schools that have lower tuition than Kairos, even several you can attend for free. There are even other seminaries that offer affordable competency-based degree programs. So why choose Kairos? Why has God led you to any particular program instead of another one?
Every degree program has its own emphases. Kairos is focused on melding a robust journey of discipleship with academic engagement. Your journey through a program with Kairos will invite you to weave your education into your current vocational context so that your educational work is deeply relevant. Kairos will challenge you to take the reins of your education and craft a pathway to demonstrate proficiency in your program’s outcomes with the guidance of a team of mentors. This unique blend of distinctives necessarily involves a process of growing into the program – it takes time and patience, but we have found that it is worth the effort, and the process is transformative. This transformation process will require more of you than simply reading books, submitting assignments, and passing classes. You will need to be open to what God wants to teach you and responsive to the insights provided by your community, context, and mentor team. What we are saying here is that through Kairos you will do more than earn a degree. You will be invited to thoughtfully and intentionally deepen your knowledge of what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus.
In Kairos, there may be times when you struggle to understand what it means to discern, develop, and demonstrate proficiency in one of your degree program outcomes. As you begin your journey, you may find it difficult to identify and invite individuals to serve on your mentor team. You may feel, at times, like your prior learning isn’t being honored as much as it should be. You may feel that your progress is slower than you want it to be. Put simply, there will be times when things are not going as well as you would like them to go. If you are here for the sole purpose of earning a degree, these times can be very discouraging. Our invitation, however, is to embrace the ups and downs of this journey as you work toward the completion of your program, accepting that Kairos has more in common with backpacking through Europe than it does with a pre-arranged bus tour.
When you are thinking about enrolling with Kairos or are just starting your program, take a few moments to consider why. Why this program? Why now? Why do I feel led to engage in theological education? When the answers to these questions come from a deep desire to know God and to invest in the learning and growth required for you to flourish in your vocation, it will be a help to you in your educational journey.
Kairos is an amazing community of people who call Jesus Lord. We would love to have you join us as we follow Jesus on mission!
As we continue our series about “questions to consider,” we will look at the question “Where are you going?” in next week’s blog.