Yes, But How? Directional Sets and the Work of Theological Education

March 13, 2023

by Greg Henson, CEO, Kairos University; President, Sioux Falls Seminary and Anthony Blair, President of Evangelical Seminary and Professor of Leadership and Historical Studies


If you’ve been following what we’ve been talking about for the past few months, you have seen us move through a series of conversations that…

  • began by proposing that walking with Jesus is something best done in community;
  • insisted that we can only walk with Jesus as guided by the Spirit;
  • explored set theory and its connection to communities;
  • offered that the concept of directional sets may be a very helpful way of understanding Spirit-led community;
  • illustrated how directional set thinking has already helpfully influenced various traditions of the Church; and
  • considered how directional sets can even provide for healthy biblical interpretation.

If you haven’t had a chance to read those posts yet, we encourage you to do so even today. It will be a helpful starting point for the conversations we begin this week.

Greg says that Heather, his wife, is the best preacher he’s ever heard! If you ask her anything about preaching it won’t take long for her to mention Michael Quicke. He is the author of 360-Degree Preaching (Baker, 2003) and was also her preaching professor in seminary. One of the things he teaches would-be preachers, and that she now does in turn, is to imagine a listener asking, “Yes, but how?”

And then to be sure to answer that listener! Otherwise, we run the risk of preaching or teaching disembodied ideas, promulgating theology that is disconnected from real-life application. When we do so, we inadvertently encourage those who listen to us to believe the stuff in our heads, but with little to no impact on our day-to-day walk with others. That’s not a transforming faith. Nor is it what Jesus did.

So, to be consistent, let’s ask (and answer) that question ourselves. If you’ve been saying “yes” all along to what we and others have been writing in these posts, week after week, it’s time now to imagine “how.” How is this possible in real life? How is it possible for us? It is! That’s why we are going to dive (briefly) over the next few weeks into necessary questions like these:

  • What does it actually look like to be a “directional set community” engaged in the work of theological education?
  • What does it mean for organizations? For one’s own journey? For the communities we belong to, especially this one?
  • How do the concerns that have historically shaped higher education find new life and new direction in this approach?
  • How can educational institutions actually function as living organisms? And how can we who participate in them, like us, come more fully alive in the process?

We’ll start next week with the “yes, but how” of Spirit-led theological education.

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