Relevant theological education is contextually appropriate, both in terms of theology and practice, while also being shaped by the wisdom passed down through centuries of the Church.
For nearly 2,000 years the Body of Christ has been learning what it looks like to faithfully follow Jesus on mission. We have learned from Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers and mothers, and the list could go on. We have seen great good done in the name of following Jesus as well as great evil. This Great Tradition provides a wealth of wisdom for us today. Relevant theological education invites us to consider the story of the Gospel, the story of God reconciling the world through Christ in light of what we discern God is doing today.
Too often, schools engage with the wisdom of the Great Tradition through one cultural or contextual lens. In practice, this means all students study the exact same things and do the exact same work – even if that work is not contextually appropriate. For example, we study western models of church planting even if we are planting churches in non-western cultures. We study hierarchical leadership structures and organizational behaviors even if we are working in a collective community that leverages networked organizational structures. Relevant theological education needs to be contextually appropriate. That means you will work with your mentor team to identify and engage in learning experiences that take account of the culture, context, and vocation you are in or in which you desire to be. In doing so, you will not only be better prepared to flourish in your current context and vocation but also develop the skills necessary to study and thrive in any context and vocation.
As a participant in Kairos, you have the opportunity to craft an entire educational journey that helps you better understand your theology and how it informs your daily life and vocation. You may be drawn to Reformed or Lutheran or Baptist expressions of theology and Kairos grants you the freedom to align your learning with your theology. More importantly, it allows you to better understand the theology of those in your context and vocation. Relevant theological education must be theologically aligned because that helps you understand more deeply what it means to proclaim the Gospel in your context.
One of the best ways to grow in your knowledge of what it looks like to engage in contextually appropriate and theologically aligned education is to interact with followers of Jesus who look, think, and act differently than you. Doing so helps you better understand who you are in Christ and why you believe what you do. You are a better leader of a church in a western culture if you interact with a leader from a non-western culture.. You will have better reformed theology if you interact with lutheran theologians. Relevant theological education must be globally aware because it is awareness of and interaction with the global Body of Christ that we become attentive to what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of others.