In late March, church leaders, students, laypeople, and ministry leaders gathered in Kuyper’s West Dining Hall to discuss the future of theological education. Luminex, an organization born out of the RCA with the goal of “Developing leaders to start and strengthen churches,” partnered with Kuyper College to host a day of thought-provoking discussion on the subject of developing leaders that serve churches well.
The discussion was led by Associate Professor of Theological Studies Dr. Branson Parler. The day was divided into three segments, with each segment defined by one of three questions: “Where are we?” “Where should we be?” and “How do we get there?”
While answering the question “Where are we?” participants discussed different philosophies of education, including the difference between schooling (a formal education that revolves around acquiring a degree) and learning (less formal, real-world experiences that revolve around competencies and skills). They also reflected on the shortcomings and issues that arise out of the current model of seminary education, such as an under-emphasis on counseling skills.
The discussion around “Where should we be?” brought out several creative ideas about bi-vocational ministry, mentoring, and developing a team of pastors in a church. Participants also discussed ways to increase communication between seminaries and churches so that seminaries are more familiar with the needs of churches, and therefore better equipped to produce the leaders that churches need.
Lastly, “How do we get there?” lead to discussion about different ways that Kuyper, and other institutions like it, can work together with churches to produce leaders that are well-equipped for service. They discussed ways that Kuyper can listen better to local churches and help churches to become places of learning for leaders and laypeople alike. They also talked how to give students more real-world experience in their areas of education, such as providing more internships and practicums and holding classes on-site at churches, nonprofits, and businesses that are relevant to the class.
It was a day of productive discussion that presented several ideas, and left participants hopeful about the future of theological education and church leadership.