Monday, January 19, 2009

Deepening Lay Theologal Education: Process

Other blogs are discussing the content of Lay Theological Education programs...the questions we'd like to have answers to. I want to think more about process; what kinds of programs might one fund to help people answer their questions?

I have three thoughts. Firstly, a set of Chautauqua-type programs that could travel to districts, clusters, camps and conferences. The ministers have their CENTER programs which do this; a different set of ministers offer to teach their specialty several times over a year to colleague groups. A similar program could be set up for Lay theological education, which might result in a blossoming variety of "Seminary for a day" programs all over the nation.

A second thought is to help ministers and others put together good distance education courses. iMinister has tried to explore this and found it beyond her geek-level. Universities, however, have developed platforms and taught less geeky (and more resistant) persons than herself how to offer knowledge in this new way. It just takes money.

Once there was a Seminary-on-line, experts of all sorts could offer on-line courses and study materials for anyone who wanted to partake, and for follow-up to those one-day Chautauqua programs suggested above.

Thirdly, I believe that the longing is not just for theological education but for ministerial education. That is, my guess is that people don't just want to learn theology, they want to learn ministry in order to be of service to their congregations. They don't just want lay theological education, the want lay ministry. And frankly, we need them.

Not all ministers agree with this, and there's not doubt that there are some really tricky pieces to the whole thing. But I think we ought to be thinking about this and looking the models other denominations have used.


V said...

Check with Roger on the distance learning thing. That's what he did in WI before he took on branch coordination here.

Lay ministerial education certainly interest me. I feel like I'm pretty well mature (stagnant?), theologically, but the path of serving others is one that would really light me up.

kgoheen said...

There is a genuine difference between theological education and ministerial formation. my biggest concern about on-line learning is that its all head learning. I treasure the experience of live interactions with peers, faculty and area clergy. The people gave the knowledge a context I could not have achieved through my computer monitor. Save the relationships!

Elz said...

My wish for lay religious education would be a huge funding process for bringing us larger ministers with non-parish expertise into regular worship/workshop presence for all congregations. Instead of a parish minister taking her stab at a UU liturgical history course, she could have me in to talk about the evolution of our prayers, our music, our sanctuaries, even our sermons. People who have always wanted to dig deeper or write their own samples could do so, while everyone else just dances on the shining service of our worship wealth.
Another week, you could have someone in who specializes in law enforcement or military chaplaincy, and the folks could face their feelings about anger and self-control, as well as social protection from those who have too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

Sometime you could have in a Small Group ministry specialist, who might even be able to tell you that our denomination began back in England as a series of small group ministries in a context of small group ministered Roman Catholic parishes...

All the while, the parish minister, freed from writing a few sermons, could catch up on visiting the shut-ins, attend a few special events with their kids or parents or partner, or just finish that novel that's been laying beside the bed for three weeks. And as an extra treat, he could spend some quality time with a colleague from outside, and exchange opinions -- as was done in our pulpit rotation days before Henry Ware, Jr -- about life in other congregations.