August 8, 2022
by Greg Henson, CEO, Kairos University and President, Sioux Falls Seminary
Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at various questions students should consider before they begin their journey with Kairos or at the beginning of that journey. We’ve invited people to recognize that this will be a different journey than most have experienced before, consider why they are enrolling, and reflect on where they are going and where they have been. Today, we wrap up this series by inviting students to think about who or what should be brought along on the journey.
In case you haven’t noticed yet, I will begin by noting that your journey with Kairos is, first and foremost, a journey of discipleship. Yes, we award degrees and invite students to think deeply and work diligently. We believe, however, that such work and study is a natural result of a robust and intentional journey of discipleship. As such, it is something that must be done in community. You cannot make progress through your Kairos journey alone. You will interact with other students, people in your local context and community of faith, faculty, and mentors. Given that reality, it is important for you to take some time to think about who is coming with you on this journey.
You also need to think about what you need to bring along with you. That is to say, you need to consider what resources you might need along the way. These could be resources related to your goals following graduation (e.g., if you hope to be ordained in a particular denomination then you may need some resources related to that process) or they could be resources that you know you will need in order to make progress (e.g., financial plans, time, academic assistance, etc.).
Taking some time to think about who and what you will need along the way is a good way to gain clarity about the process. That clarity will give you the momentum you need to start well and then be supported along the way. Let’s jump into a few specific aspects of each one.
Who is coming with me?
I think there are three important aspects of this question to consider: 1) the Kairos community, 2) your context, and 3) your mentor team.
It is helpful to reflect on the Kairos community as a whole because you will interact with this larger community in important ways. Each program requires students to engage in small-group conversations with other students several times over the course of the program. Such conversations may take place inside of large-group events (e.g., Kairos gatherings), seminar-style experiences, or other live learning experiences. You will be expected to interact with other students in these settings and to do so with grace, humility, and respect. At some point, you may bump into another student, mentor, or faculty member whose opinions and ideas are significantly different from yours. Such differences are opportunities for learning and growth. With a community that stretches across six continents and over 70 Christian denominations, you should expect there to be differences of opinion. At Kairos, we are centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ and the unshakeable truth of God’s Word. Each person who begins a program does so by expressing a desire to be a more faithful follower of Jesus. This commitment to following Jesus is an invitation to study deeply and to hold convictions while doing so with something we call “epistemic humility.” You can read more about this in our white paper on theological hospitality.
Along with the Kairos community, your journey will include your local context and faith community. Susan Reese, Professor of Spiritual Formation, makes this clear when she points out that your primary classroom is anywhere you place your hand on a doorknob and proceed to walk into a room – that place is your classroom and your community of learning. It could be your office, the sanctuary at your church, your kitchen, or even your neighbor’s house. Everywhere you go presents an opportunity to learn. As you begin your journey, you will be invited to think about how you will integrate your context and local community into this journey. Obviously, at the beginning of your journey, you won’t know exactly how that will work. It is important, however, to be aware of the fact that you will be invited to engage your context and community in your journey. You won’t be able to walk through this experience alone.
Finally, you will work with mentors throughout your entire journey. One of your mentors will be a faculty member of Kairos University. The other mentors on your team could be from your vocational context, faith community, group of peers, or others in your personal network. Every program requires engaging with mentors. As you consider or begin your program, embrace this opportunity to work with mentors. It is a wonderful opportunity to invite others to speak into your life. It is also a great way to ensure that you are receiving multiple perspectives along the way.
What information or support do I need?
People choose to enroll in Kairos for many reasons, and they serve in many different contexts. Some are pastors, church planters, or missionaries and others are business leaders, volunteers, parents, chaplains, and much more. To put it simply, everyone’s journey through Kairos is different and often requires students to think differently about what they will need along the way. In our experience, there are a few particular areas to consider when thinking about resources you might need along the way: communication, community, and information.
When it comes to communication, the context in which you serve, or plan to serve, plays a big role in determining the type and style of communication you may need to utilize. For example, if you serve as a teaching pastor at a church, your spoken communication could be very important. However, if you are an academic who is planning to conduct research for the purpose of publication, it could be that a particular style of written communication is important. In most cases, you need to consider what kind(s) of verbal and written communication is needed to be proficient in your context. As you begin, take some time to work with your mentor team to discern and define your needs. If you discover that a certain type of communication is expected in your vocational context and you currently struggle in that area, then it may be helpful to identify some resources that will help you along the way. For example, if verbal communication is challenging, then perhaps you and your mentor team can help you find resources to support you in that area. Likewise, if written communication or even a particular type of written communication is important, then identify some resources to assist you. Remember, resources can be books, podcasts, websites, people, learning experiences, and much more.
As for community, it is helpful to remember (again) that you are not doing this alone. You will be expected to engage with others along the way. Previously, I mentioned the importance of bringing some people with you (i.e., your mentor team, local context, community of faith, etc.). Here, I want to call attention to resources that might be important to your community. For example, if you plan to serve as a pastor in a particular denomination, it will be helpful to gather information that the denomination provides regarding ordination or pastoral leadership. If you serve as a business leader, perhaps there are particular standards within your field that are important to understand. The point is to remember that you are serving within a community. Take some time to identify the resources that your community deems important.
Finally, think about how you might access information and whether or not you will need help doing so. We often have access to more information than we need or even know what to do with. It can be difficult, however, to assess which information is relevant or needed for a particular task. This is what some people refer to as “information literacy.” It is the ability to find and evaluate information (in all its various forms) coupled with the ability to organize it, use it appropriately and ethically, and then communicate it. If this sounds new to you, it may be helpful to work with your mentor team to gain a deeper appreciation for the concept of information literacy and then identify a few resources to help you with that. Again, resources could be people, websites, learning experiences, etc.
Who and what you bring along for your Kairos journey will play an important role in your ongoing development. As a follower of Jesus, you have the privilege of being part of a global community of disciples seeking to follow Jesus more faithfully. As you begin that journey, take some time to think about who and what you want to bring along!