Hybrid Class Experiment

This Fall, the faculty of Wesley Seminary are exploring ways in which we can enhance and publicize the advantages of coming onsite to do your MDiv. One experiment this semester is to have some of our online students join those in the onsite class real time. Thanks to those new students who were willing on a moment’s notice to try this experiment with us!  The first week, I thought, was a great success. Stay tuned for possible changes even as soon as January that might entice students in the area to come on campus instead of online or to entice any of you who might be just out of college who might consider moving to this area for the onsite program.

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Projection or Presence: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Video Venue Preaching

Video venues are flying off the ecclesial griddle like hot cakes. Everyone seems to be doing it. Some with great success, if success is primarily determined by increased attendance at the multi-site video venue church. Many growing churches are getting behind this trend. Who knows if the trend is here to stay or merely a flash in the pan? Regardless, I am convinced that churches must carefully and prayerfully consider not only the short-term but long-term practical and theological implications of launching a site where the preacher is not present but projected. Here are some of the major pros and cons of video venue preaching. The question that must be asked and answered is, do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? Pros of Projection -The most effective preacher gets projected. Let’s face it, there are relatively few preachers who hit the sermonic ball out of the park on

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Getting To Know Brannon Hancock (by Brannon Hancock)

Nothing like asking the new guy to write a blog post when he hasn’t even figured out how to retrieve his voicemail yet! If you would have told this dude (the lead singer is the cooler, thinner guy I used to be) that 15 years later he’d be a seminary professor, unbridled laughter may have been the response. At that point in 1999, I had dropped out of college deferred my undergraduate studies at Trevecca Nazarene University and was living the rock-and-roll dream. (Actually, to quote Matt Foley, it was more like “living in a van down by the river.”) But let me back up. I am a PK (that’s “pastor’s kid,” to the uninitiated). My dad was a PK too! And his brothers are all pastors. (You think it might run in the family…?) Growing up, my dad pastored churches in Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. It was at a

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A New Year Begins

For those of you who were not able to be on campus yesterday for the opening convocation of the 2014-15 seminary year, it was a special launch to our sixth year as a seminary together. Dr. Wayne Schmidt cast a wonderful vision as we look forward to the next five years and Joanne Solis-Walker delivered a stirring sermon calling us to think of the service as a “holy convocation” where God calls his people at a specific time and a specific place and sets his people apart. She urged us to see our studies this year as a holy task to which God has called us. This year we have so many English and Spanish classes going that, for the first time, we are not able to have all of them under the seminary roof. My Bible class, nevertheless, is fully willing to make the trek from Maxwell over to

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What do those stones mean to you? — An Exploration in Multigenerational Leadership (Luigi Peñaranda)

Not too long ago, I taught an undergraduate Bible course that provided a general overview of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible). After conducting some preliminary assessments, it was clear that, though the majority of students were brought up in Christian homes. They were for the most part Bible illiterate. There were some, of course, who knew a few Bible stories, but they failed to recognize their meaning and their relation to the rest of the Bible. My initial attempt at providing students with good information was unsuccessful. Gaining factual knowledge did not have a transformative effect on the class. Then, I assumed the challenge of exploring as many avenues as needed in order to engage this new generation of students in a way that was meaningful and transformative. A story found in Joshua chapters 3 and 4 contains a fascinating lesson on multigenerational leadership. In this passage, a new

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Remembering (Safiyah Fosua)

Recently I was privileged with the task of transforming a worship module that had been written for clergy worship planners into one that was lay-person friendly.  The task proved to be more difficult that I had thought it would be.  We who plan and lead worship are so immersed in what we are doing that I wonder if we have a difficult time understanding how our programming and performances are actually received by the ordinary God-fearing churchgoer that attends weekly worship hoping for a word from the Lord?  I continue to wonder if our tendency to overvalue off the chart worship may have inadvertently produced a clan of spectator-worshippers who come expecting to be overwhelmed each week (by us). If our worship has too much focus on us – what we do, how we do it, how well we do it – and not nearly enough focus on the God

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Every Five Years… (Wayne Schmidt)

“We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in five years.” This statement has often been attributed to Peter Drucker and I’ve certainly found it to be true in my own life and ministry (of course, Drucker is the “Apostle Peter” of the management field, and I wonder if he could have possibly written or said all that is attributed to him, even with his long life). Wesley Seminary at IWU will pass the five-year milestone next month (the first cohort launched in August of 2009).  It has been a fast-paced, innovation-infused five years!  It’s hard to believe over 400 students, men and women of different ethnicities and generations and ministry contexts who serve in nearly forty different denominations, are now enrolled.  We have an amazing new facility on the Marion campus, but students gather in variety of settings nationally and

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VBS…David Was Wrong! (Joanne Solis-Walker)

It is summer time and all across the U.S. churches host Vacation Bible Schools (VBS). My daughter has two particular VBS’s she attends and everything else on our summer schedule must revolve around those particular dates. It’s funny and very interesting how persistent she is about not missing VBS. It’s made me think about my love, as a child, for VBS. Not only did it contribute to my spiritual formation. The Mennonite church not far from my neighborhood in Vineland, NJ was a loving and welcoming place. Even though Spanish was my primary language, they took the time to share about God’s love in ways I could understand. (Just in case you are wondering, Spanglish has most recently become my primary language!) One of the main things I remember from my VBS days are the songs. I remember singing Psalm 51:10-11. “Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord. And

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How to “Hit a Home Run” in Your Next Sermon Series… (Charles Arn)

Here’s how to be guaranteed that listeners will eagerly anticipate your next series of messages, waiting to hear your words—and God’s—on the selected topic. First, some background… A few years ago the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps asked me to research the attitudes of incoming 18-, 19-, and 20-year old recruits toward religion and church.  I interviewed young men and women across mainstream America.  One of the questions I asked was, “What is your opinion of church?”  Two words came back over and over: boring and irrelevant. “Relevance” is one of the hallmarks of an effective, contagious church. Attendees who find their church speaking clearly and creatively to life issues not only return, but bring friends. “Relevance” is found in the words and rhythm of songs…in the style and appearance of facilities…in children’s Sunday School and topics in the adult classes.  But perhaps more than any other area, relevance must be found in the sermon. In

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Multi-cultural Ministry: Ask the Hard Questions First (Kwasi Kena)

Nearly a decade has passed since I first heard the United States referred to as “the most multi-cultural nation state in the world” during an evangelism presentation. That phrase sent my mind racing back to biblical times to the church at Antioch. Unlike Jerusalem, the epicenter of Jewish Christianity, Antioch was mélange of diverse cultures. While the presence of the temple and Torah imposed a strong Jewish influence on Christianity in Jerusalem, Jewish and Gentile cultures shaped Christianity in Antioch. Paul and Peter pioneered the terrain that lay before infant Christianity. What had been a religion exclusive to Jewish converts was expanding to believing Gentiles. When diverse cultures and ethnicities huddle around religious matters, had questions come. What is essential Christianity and what is cultural preference? On what can we compromise? Who mediates? Who decides? Who has the final say? Paul, with his cosmopolitan background, handled diversity better than Peter

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