Tuesday, January 15, 2019

High School to Masters in Five Years (KERN program)

For Graduating High School Students:
The School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) has a special program that has really become the backbone of our undergraduate school: the KERN Mentoring Program
  • About 25 students a year receive a significant scholarship from their second semester freshman year for 5 years (in the past, some have received as much as $3000 a year in their undergraduate time)
  • Graduate with a bachelor's degree in three years.
  • Then receive a Master of Practical Theology degree in two more years (an MDIV equivalent in hours and coursework)
The Bachelor's Degree Part
Major in one of four ministry tracks: Christian Ministries, Worship Ministry, Youth Ministries, or Children's ministry.
  • Admitted into the Kern program in the second semester, with a significant scholarship each semester.
  • Take the ministry core with courses like evangelism, inductive Bible study, Christian theology, advanced Bibles, and church history.
  • Take general ordination courses like counseling, preaching, worship, and local church education.
  • Take courses in your specialization in ministry, like teaching the Bible to children (Children's Ministries), the Christian year (Worship Ministry), youth in culture (Youth Ministries), or church leadership (Christian Ministries).
  • Finish in three years if you want--one year less translates to about $10,000 in savings!
The Master's Degree Part (four possibilities)
The Master of Practical Theology
  • A 72 hour curriculum (the required number of courses in an MDIV)
  • Up to 9 hours of advanced standing with credit from your undergraduate work
  • Your first year is onsite in a cohort with courses like spiritual direction, worship renewal, strategic pastoral counseling, biblical theology, hermeneutics, and more.
  • Your second year is a residency (usually a paid residency) in a teaching church, finishing out your course work online while you are being mentored at a church. 
  • These include courses like multi-ethnic ministry, pastoral care, church health, youth and family education, and philosophy for ministry. 
  • Normally finish in two years, while possibly receiving almost $200 a credit hour in scholarships.
Other Master's Degree Possibilities
  • Master of Arts in Spiritual Care (a one year option beyond the bachelor's degree)
  • Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (a one year option after bachelor's)
  • Master of Arts in Theology (a two year option after bachelor's)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Old Testament Theology on Patreon

I have been doing some videos/podcasts on Isaiah but it wasn't energizing me or (I think) my patrons.

So I'm switching it up. For a few months I plan to look at verses in the Old Testament in a series on Old Testament theology. The revised weekly plan is:
  • Monday - continue to do a video on the letters and pronunciation of a Hebrew verse of the week.
  • Tuesday - for patrons only, continued work on my inductive Bible study textbook
  • Wednesday - podcast on patreon covering the OT theology relevant to the verse of the week
  • Thursday - for patrons only, continued work on my inductive Bible study textbook
  • Friday - continue to do a video on the Hebrew grammar of the verse of the week
  • Saturday - patrons only, continued work on my inductive Bible study textbook
  • Sunday - Christian Sabbath :-)

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

New Year's Resolutions (2019)

"I have a feeling it's going to be an odd year."

The new trend is to pick a word for the year. I'm picking the word INVENT.

Something Old
  • I want to finish writing two books this year, two textbooks. They are both already about half written. One is on inductive Bible study. The other is "Greek for Ministry."
  • I'll renew last year's goal of 6 miles of running a week in the winter, with 15 once it warms up.
  • I'll continue my trajectories on Patreon and Bible study.
Something New
I want to innovate this year, both personally and professionally.
  • Personally, Trent Nettleton, myself, and a couple designers have been in conversation to create a New Testament Survey app. This would function like a textbook except it would be interactive. Perhaps finished in spring.
  • Professionally, I want to 1) reach new students in new ways, 2) continue to connect the church with the academy, and 3) enrich student formation and experience. Here is where my principal investment in INVENTING may be.
Something Borrowed
  • I'm sure I will read several books before the year is out. I'm not always sure what they will be. I suspect the first one will be The Coddling of the American Mind, by Jonathan Haidt.
  • Dare I continue my quest in math and science? Perhaps I will feebly aim to continue.
Something Blue
  • I'll take this in the sense of family. This is truly launching year and the goal is God-directed launches! My two older step-daughters are on trajectory to leave Indiana. My son has a major decision to make. My daughter is looking at various Christian colleges. May the Lord direct their paths!

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Year in Review (2018)

I have not posted nearly as much on this blog as in previous years. I post nearly daily on Facebook, which I have come to see as a tool of teaching and discipleship. Social media is also a marketing tool. My "marketing" has primarily been for the School of Theology and Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Here is my year in review.

The biggest personal change this year was my son Thomas going to college. He has a full tuition ROTC scholarship to Purdue (yes, he was present in Nashville at that horrible game Friday). Pray for the Lord to show him the best path for his future! This coming year will probably see all of our children out of the home. Pray for them if you think of it!

Preaching and Teaching
I preached at least nine times this year, including IWU chapel, the Holiness Emphasis Week at Southern Wesleyan University and a chapel at Asbury Orlando.

I also piloted an 8 week Bible study series on Romans with Sam Maddox and Light and Life Wesleyan Church in Three Rivers, Michigan. We will probably do another study this spring, perhaps on 1 Corinthians. If you have a small group at your church that is interested, this is a live Bible study probably on a Thursday night for an hour, using Zoom. I see possibilities here!

1. One of the most interesting ventures this year was my shift from blogging to Patreon. Someone made an off comment on Facebook around April 7 about Patreon, about which I was unacquainted. On April 8, I started posting videos--and then podcasts (at the suggestion of Marc Jolicoeur) on Acts.

It took 35 weeks but I went through the entire book of Acts in Greek both in video and podcast. It turned out to be 220 videos, which you can watch in order at this playlist. It amounts to a course in Acts, minus the homework. Every week I did a special video for my patrons, almost all of which are now public.

I have several patrons who give $5 a month to support my work here. On December 10 I started working through Isaiah 40-66. Here is the playlist site. This week I hope to finish up Isaiah 41.

Books Read
I either read or skimmed several books this year:
Books I've Written
  • I wrote two more novellas in my Gabriel's Diaries series. 
  • A book on Hebrews moves forward. We'll see what comes of it.
  • I floated a proposal something like Sophie's World, spent some time writing a sample chapter. The lack of an enthusiastic response has it on hold.
  • This fall I invested a good deal in a Greek for Ministry idea I've had for years. I have about 150 pages written. I hope to send a proposal to a publisher in January.
Math and Science
I have always loved math and science. Several years ago I started making videos going through physics, calculus, and chemistry. Inevitably, I don't have time during the year to work much on these, but I have done quite a bit in the summer. I still hope to better understand relativity and quantum mechanics before I die. Did some study in the summer.

Dean Matters
  • This is my third year as Dean of the mostly undergraduate School of Theology and Ministry (STM). Each year surprises with a different challenge, but each year also brings successes and opportunities. 
  • STM is a spectacular team. Charlie Alcock is a one man recruitment army with the work he does bringing thousands of young people to campus and running ministry teams in the summer. Amanda Drury is a grant-writing monster who has brought many students to campus who would not otherwise have come, including many diverse students. David Smith has been teaching Bible study in churches all over the US. Eddy Shigley continues to foster connections with the KERN Foundation. Brian Bernius has configured and reconfigured our curriculum into a lean and mean teaching machine. I could go on and on about STM's faculty and divisional leadership.
  • The challenge of middle management is always partial power. You can facilitate some decisions, but the most impactful ones are out of your hands. You find yourself daydreaming a lot about what you would do. Suffice it to say, I have a large number of ideas (I've started keeping a notebook). We'll see if the Lord opens the door to use any of them!
So farewell, 2018. Onward to 2019!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Top Ten Reasons to go to a Christian College

In these days of multiplying options, I repeatedly come back to the question, "Why would someone choose a Christian college today?" We can break down this question even further:
  • In a perfect world, why would or should someone choose a Christian college? and
  • How do our Christian universities line up?
Top 10 Reasons
10. Because it's a solid education
This factor must be a given. A Christian shouldn't suffer educationally because they go to a Christian college. The education they get must be on a par or better than what they would get at a secular institution.

9. Because it's accessible
If going into the world to proclaim the good news of Jesus is at the heart of Christian identity, then Christian colleges will not only be "havens for saints" but also will reach out to the ends of the earth with education from a Christian perspective and with Christian values. It makes sense that Christian institutions would have online and satellite programs in the same way that a healthy church reaches out beyond its walls.

8. Because it's affordable
There should be a partnership between the church and Christian universities that evens out (ideally, that even betters) the financial proposition of going to a Christian university. The most efficient way for the church to make a Christian college education affordable is to give directly to the students with scholarships. The church and university should partner in this endeavor.

7. Because it's a safe, quality environment
By safe I not only mean physically but in terms of things like the tendency of many universities toward rampant drug and alcohol use. By all means a Christian university should be fun and full of all the creative playfulness of the late teens and early twenties. But it should not be the party wasteland that is so many colleges and universities today. In fact, non-Christians should find Christian colleges attractive because of the quality environment.

6. Because of friendships
Many of us formed key life friendships in college. This is one strength of a residential college experience over a commuter college or a university where one gets lost among the masses. In this day and age it may be thought a luxury, but it should be a strength of the Christian residential college that you have close, life friends with deep Christian values. You become who you are around. Those who do not go for whatever reason should recognize that they are missing out on a special community.

5. Because of mentors
If a Christian college is working right, a student should form relationships with professors and other mentors that remain for life. Professors should not be "ivory tower" personalities who don't have time for their students. They should be regularly available for conversation on every level. Informal counseling, life coaching--what happens outside of class will probably be of more lasting value than what happens in class. Decades later, these relationships should continue. As I have told students, you're paying to have me as a resource for life.

4. Because of life trajectory
Where you go to college will likely set your life on a trajectory. Suffice it to say, you should be more likely to leave college headed in a Christ-centered direction if your starting point is a Christian college than if your starting point is not. This makes going to a Christian college extremely significant.

3. To be formed spiritually
A Christian college is not a church but it is a para-church community. Think of it in terms of a small group within a church. You do worship together. You have koinonia. There should be organized discipleship taking place in the dorms and among athletic teams. It should even happen in classes. Spiritual formation is the most important dimension of our lives, and it should be a major dimension of a Christian college.

2. To be formed intellectually as a Christian
Perhaps the focal task of an educational institution in general is intellectual formation. Spiritual formation is more important eternally, but it is not the reason a Christian college exists. There will no doubt be a significant degree of overlap between the learning of a secular and Christian institution, but at a Christian college faith should be integrated with the learning. This integration takes place on several levels: 1) with the faith of the professors and environment, 2) in the way knowledge is applied to life, and 3) in the very presuppositions from which subject matters are approached. A major reason to go to a Christian college is so that one can see one's area of study from a Christian worldview.

1. To be formed in Christian identity
Several of the above points make it clear that the 18-22 years are some of the most formative years of one's life. Where you end up spiritually in your life is more crucial than where you started out. For this reason, the life direction aspect of a Christian college should be of inestimable value. This direction goes beyond what career you choose or who you marry. It has to do with who you are. Because the ideal Christian college is far more likely to form you to be a Christ-follower for life in this most crucial transition period of your identity, this is an incredibly strong reason to go to a Christian college.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

For Patrons: Beginning Hebrew III

My third patron post on the alphabet is up, covering the letters he, chet, mem, nun, and tsade. In particular, I cover the letters whose final form is different from their initial or "medial" forms.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

For Patrons: Beginning Hebrew II

Another patron post today on the Hebrew alphabet on patreon, a great way to learn Hebrew gradually. Today covered aleph, ayin, bet, gimil, dalet, kaph, pe, and tav.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

For Patrons: Beginning Hebrew 1

One feature of my new series on Isaiah 40-66 is that on Saturdays I am going to be plugging away at a new book draft: Hebrew for Ministers and Scholars. What that means is that my patrons will be able to learn biblical Hebrew at a gingerly pace. After all, I'm only working on the book once a week for a Saturday post.

This will be a really easy way to learn Hebrew, especially if you also watch the two videos on the Hebrew of Isaiah during the week. Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

For Patrons: The Background of Isaiah 40-66

This week I started my second Patreon series on Isaiah 40-66 (see here for my previous series on Acts). Just this week I have:
  • Looked at the Hebrew letters of Isaiah 40:1.
  • Done podcast commentary on Isaiah 40:1-8 in their original OT context
  • Made the patron video/podcast at the bottom of this post.
  • Tomorrow I will go public with a look at the Hebrew grammar of Isaiah 40:1
  • On Friday I look at Isaiah 40:1-8 again from a New Testament perspective
  • Saturday for patrons I will begin to post information toward a Hebrew for ministers book.
For patrons today I made this 22 minute video on two possible settings for the writing of Isaiah 40-66: 1) a vision/prophecy of Isaiah in the eighth century BC and 2) prophetic material from the sixth century BC integrated with prophecies of Isaiah.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

For Patrons: The Church at Rome (end of series)

After 35 weeks and 220 videos and almost as many podcasts, I have finished going through the book of Acts in English and Greek. The end result is the equivalent of a college course in Acts, minus the reading, writing, and tests. Here is the playlist where you can watch almost all the videos in order.

The final podcast is my reconstruction of the first 50 or so years of the church at Rome. Full of educated guesses and debated possibilities. Roams through Romans, Mark, 1 Peter, and Hebrews. On Monday, I start Isaiah 40-66 and Hebrew!

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Adventures in Isaiah and Hebrew

1. For 35 weeks (including this week) I have slowly made my way through the book of Acts. On weekdays I have done a daily podcast commentary on a passage, trying to cover about a chapter a week. Also on weekdays, I did YouTube videos on the Greek of that passage, accumulating more than 200 videos. Together, these podcasts and commentaries amount to a college course in Acts, without the tests and papers. :-)

2. Beginning December 10, we are switching to Isaiah 40-66 and Hebrew. The schedule above was quite intense, so I'm planning on a slightly less demanding schedule. Here is the plan:
  • Weekly - The goal is about 15 verses a week.
  • Monday - On YouTube, I plan to go through the Hebrew letters of a key verse in the passage for the week. So you can start learning Hebrew.
  • Tuesday - Patreon podcast on 7-8 verses
  • Wednesday - sometimes, something more for patrons
  • Thursday - On YouTube, go through another key verse in Hebrew, this time looking at the Hebrew grammar of the verse. Again, you can learn Hebrew.
  • Friday - Patreon podcast on 7-8 verses
  • Saturday - for patrons, work on "Hebrew for Ministers and Scholars" book
3. Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month on Patreon. I have been making patron videos available on YouTube after about a three weeks delay. I will probably continue to do that with any Saturday videos. The book writing however is toward a book so wouldn't be available until the book came out.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

For Patrons: Paul's Shipwreck and Ancient Sailing

My podcast/video for patrons this week is now available. It's a brief 11 minutes, but I did a little research on ancient sailing in relation to Paul's shipwreck.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Future of Christian Universities

I was thinking this weekend about how Christian colleges might strategize for the future. More than one threat is converging on us:
  • Massive demographic shifts are coming. These will be especially difficult for midwestern colleges and universities. 2025 is forecasted to see around a 15% drop in college age students.
  • Part of such demographic shifts is a diversification of the population, meaning that the typical evangelical college is in serious trouble.
  • Students are leaving high school with one or more years of college credit. My daughter will graduate from high school this year with an associate's degree (=around 60 credit hours). This fact means that even if they come to you, they will be with you for a significantly shorter period of time.
  • Students have lots of less expensive options and the value proposition of a more expensive Christian college is not clear to them or their parents.
  • The online market is saturated. It's no longer enough to go online. There has to be a reason to choose you among the many online options. 
  • Satellite campuses also seem on the decline.
  • My pastor, Steve Deneff, has predicted a backlash against evangelicals whenever the Trump presidency ends. We have just seen the biggest "blue wave" since Watergate. Unless the situation changes, we should expect a similar wave in the Senate in 2020. This dynamic probably does not bode well for Christian colleges associated with evangelicalism.
  1. Only make essential replacements. By all means don't panic! Nevertheless, the next 7 years are years to prepare for the Mariana Trench in demographic decline that is coming. There may be some good years coming in the meantime. So use retirements and natural departures to contract naturally in preparation.
  2. Diversify. Find ways to hire people and bring students who broaden your audience. Do so on every level--student, faculty, administration, top leadership. I've seen some great movement in this direction at Indiana Wesleyan where I work.
  3. Expand or move into graduate programs, especially 3+2 programs. If they are coming for fewer years in undergraduate programs, find seamless ways to keep them into graduate programs. Again, the KERN program at IWU where I work has done this magnificently.
  4. Make your value proposition clear. What is your distinctive? What are your faculty's superpowers? What is your region? What is your specific Christian tradition--what flavor of Christianity is your school? What is your identity or identities? What is your online distinctive? Build on what you have!
  5. Make it less expensive for as many students as possible. If you have a clear identity, you may be able to find donors who like it and are willing to give to it. If the government stops giving federal loans to students in Christian colleges, we may need some huge endowments to increase scholarships. Possibly start with certain pockets of students.
  6. Adopt a "Christian host" model. This approach might be easier for the Wesleyan tradition than some others, but I consider my own college a place where, as long as you are civil, anyone is welcome. The beliefs of the host university are clear, but you will be treated with respect if you are an atheist student. Professors obviously must be believers with a living faith, but we can have professors who respect the Wesleyan host without full agreement on every doctrine. And willingness to live within community ethos is acceptable, even if one's conscience is freer. 
So those are some of my ideas on how Christian universities can continue to thrive despite changing times. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Gadamer's Truth and Method: Introduction (1960)

A couple years ago I started to translate Hans Georg Gadamer's Wahrheit and Methode, a classic in hermeneutics and philosophy. Way more than I have the time to do. But I am starting ahead on a renewed New Year's resolution for next year--to read through it. Over thanksgiving I read the introduction again. Here is a summary.
In his introduction, Hans-Georg Gadamer indicates that his book is about hermeneutics, not in the sense of a method of interpretation but the nature of interpretation itself. Indeed, he argues that the question of interpretation is not a matter of method. The key is to understand the role that tradition plays in interpretation. Gadamer's question is about the nature of knowledge and truth (xx). [1]

In the modern age, science thinks that its scientific method is objective and stands outside such traditions, but even science cannot avoid the nature of understanding. There is no domain of understanding that transcends the nature of the experience of truth. There is a tendency, even in philosophy, to think the thinkers of the past as inferior to contemporary philosophical insights. Nevertheless, "That in the understanding of the texts of these great thinkers, truth is known that would not be attainable in another way" (xxi).

"Truth comes to speech" by way of historical tradition (xxii). "The experience [Erfahrung] of the historical tradition [Überlieferung] reaches fundamentally beyond that which [objectively] explorable." There is an event involved in all understanding, an event that presupposes the traditions in which we stand. Historical consciousness weakens those presuppositions very little. This dynamic is true of "the whole of our hermeneutical experience."

There was a radical rupture [Einschnitt] with the past in the emergence of historical consciousness [geschichtliches Bewusstsein] in the last century. "The naive innocence has been been lost with which one made the ideas of tradition [Tradition] servants to one's own thinking" (xxiii-xxiv). Nevertheless, it cannot overcome the nature of hermeneutics. "To be conscientious in our thinking, we must become aware of these presuppositions" (xxiv).

[1] Although the page numbers correlate to the English translation by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall, Truth and Method, 2nd ed. (London: Bloomsbury, 2013 [1989]), the translations are my own.

For Patrons: Herod Agrippa II

My podcast/video for patrons this week is now available. I had what I thought was a big aha moment in the middle of researching for this podcast, an interesting argument for the historicity of the basic events of Acts 21-26.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

For Patrons: Roman Citizenship

My podcast/video for patrons this week is now available. This is a quick look at the privileges of a Roman citizen, as well as how one might become one.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my Patreon.com page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.