Saturday, May 31, 2008

Creative Seminary Restructuring

This is another article in the creative things happening in theological education series.

It is interesting to see how many seminaries have restructured into ‘streams’ and ‘centres’ that offer courses, provide resources and special study emphases.

Creating Streams and Tracks
For many years this approach has been popular, the creation of streams or tracks—for Pastors, Youth Pastors, Chaplains, Social Workers, Overseas workers—selected by students according to what they perceive they will become when their formal theological education is over.

This can be useful for those who know clearly what they will do following their course but a high percentage of students commencing seminary do not know what lies ahead of their graduation and another mass of students change tracks throughout their seminary years. This is not a problem as these people usually represent the norm. In many ways not knowing where you are going is a good approach to theological education as it can make students more open to learning and exploration, rather than choosing subjects and eliminating others which do not appear to serve their ultimate career goals.


As Abraham and Sarah discovered, God often only reveals one step at a time and the most that we are called to do is to take one step forward.




Creating Seminary Centres (or ‘Centers’)
An increasingly popular trend is for seminaries to create ‘centres’. These have value for an institution in attracting funds for specific purposes, assigning staff, creating rallying points for students and building a clientele.

For students, ‘centres’ offer ‘meeting places’ for the like-minded, and in addition to courses there is a range of resources including such things as conferences, opportunities for ongoing education (‘scholars in residence), designated scholarships, focused web pages, internship and mentoring services and the production of online resources.

Check out Morling College in Sydney, Australia, as it is one of the most ‘centred’ seminaries in the world with its Centre for Evangelism and Global Mission, a Centre for Christian Ethics and a Centre for Leadership. Many of its centres have streams or tracks.

Restructuring Purposes
Creating new structures will not automatically stimulate growth, attract more students or sharpen the vision of the institution. As Petronius Arbiter discovered and proclaimed back in 210 B.C.:

“We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Streams; A sign I saw recently in the Men’s Room at the Shanghai airport; Center organization at Wheaton College.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Update from BTS in Northern Chile

Earlier I posted an article on the proposed visit of the seminary in Santiago, Chile, that was going on mission together. I have just received this email update from Prof. Josue Fonseca and I am posting it for your interest and prayers:

Geoff,

Greetings from the beautiful and sunny city of Iquique, a place with a population of 200,000 inhabitants.

Our Evangelistic Mission of the BTS in northern Chile is doing great this weekend. We came as a group of 60 Seminary members, staff, students and Faculty to preach and serve in 8 cities and villages in the Altiplano (Highlands) border to Bolivia and Peru, and also Chilean Pacific coast.

Churches were prepared to host us. We are preaching on the streets, open air, in radio, high schools, institutions, etc., teaching workshops on all sort of subjects, visiting homes, people in their places of work, local authorities, youth people at soccer fields, children ministry with puppets and mimos (mimes), elderly ministry and so, and so.

We begin every day at 7:30 am with prayer meeting, then the full day is completed with the order of the day for each group. We are interconnected as a group through mobile cellular phones, and the internet, so we know what is happening to each other.

The whole travel of 2,300 kilometres is done by bus, 36 hours to the final end, and finishing the week the bus will start from the northeast point to pick up the delegation until all are in the bus to head to Santiago. That moment is marvellous when student and faculty tell stories and testimonies of the happenings; there are tears, emotions and praises.


People are serving this weekend as a celebration of our Centennial Anniversary of Chilean Baptist Convention and 69th Seminary Anniversary. It is very joyful and stimulating. It's another way of doing theological training in the field, as we have done for more than ten years now.

Blessings and love in Christ,
Prof. Josue Fonseca

Josue
Gracias por el email fantastico! Bendiciones. Que Dios te bendiga. Ir en paz.
Siempre estoy orando por ti ustedes.
Vaya con dios.

Geoff

Image: Map of Chile; “the beautiful and sunny city of Iquique.”

Creative Assessment

Here is another offering in the creativity in theological education series.

Introducing Tim Bulkeley
Tim Bulkeley teaches at Carey College and the Tyndale-Carey Graduate School in Auckland, New Zealand. Among his many pursuits Tim is a prolific blogger, the driving force behind the Pod Bible (a Bible podcast of a chapter a day or the Bible in a year read by real people) and the Hypertext Bible Project which includes an Online Bible Dictionary.

During a sabbatical in the first half of 2008 Tim has been a theologian without borders in two countries. Read about his experiences at Teaching OT in Faraway Places.

Here are some ideas about creative assessment in Tim’s words:

Creative Assessment
As a teacher of Old Testament I try to be creative in my assessment packages for three main reasons. Ever since (as a recent BSc graduate) I was given the task: “Write an essay on Amos for next week” I have been convinced that essays ought not to be the only means of assessment in biblical studies. I also cringe at the inexpressive readings of Scripture we often suffer in church, worse still are the readings that express unintended meanings! The third motive is a desire to bridge the gap between scholarship and church, which we all claim “ought” not to exist, but which nevertheless does.

Analysis and Synthesis
Studying a text involves both analysis and subsequent synthesis. Analysis alone gives one a good understanding of the component parts of the text. Depending on the approach used this may be: a historical understanding of where the text came from, or a literary understanding of the techniques its author(s) used… However, and especially when the text is ancient and one that a faith community accepts as authoritative, a synthetic move is also necessary - to work out what the text means, and to explain that meaning to others in the community of faith.

Exegesis and Application
Often the assignments that we set for students address one of these moves in isolation from the other. So, an "exegesis" provides good practice in analysis, and a good assessment of the student's skill in analyzing texts. However, when the teacher asks for a strong "application" section to the exegesis - at least in my experience - either application "takes over" and little analysis gets reported (and often the message seems only tortuously related to the text ;-) or the "application" reads like some pious thoughts tacked on to the end of the otherwise careful and scholarly essay.

Performing the Bible Text
One way I have addressed this problem is through an assignment I call "Performing a Biblical Text". By "perform" I mean presenting the text (in written or oral form) in such a way that its interpretation is clear to an audience. The instructions require the student to add as few words to the text as possible. Performances have included: setting a text to music, disposing the words on a poster, screen presentations which combine the text with images, acting out the "story" using the words of scripture (a "dramatized reading") and the like.

Justifying the Performance
As well as the performance itself students are required to prepare a "justification" which explains their performance in terms of the features of, and techniques used in, the text which suggest the "reading" presented by the performance. It is this justification rather than the artistic quality of the performance itself which is assessed and marked.

Pros
The main advantages of this assessment are:


* Students are required both to analyse with care, and to attend to putting things back together into a working whole. The two moves cannot be separated or a poorer mark results.

* Students are often “inspired” with enthusiasm and sometimes produce much better work than I expect (on the basis of previous conventional tasks).

* Students produce work that they actually use in church settings – so both integrating study and life and improving the quality and richness of Bible reading in church.

* Students sometimes tell me that they have undertaken a similar process in real life use of the Bible.

Cons
The main disadvantages of this assessment are:

* It requires more work from the student, and so leaves less time in the class mix for reading.

* It can lead to sad cases where the performance (as a performance) is brilliant, but because of poor exegesis the student does not get the mark they (and I) think the performance was “worth”.

One needs to be careful that students without acting, graphical, music… skills do not feel that “they cannot do it”. In fact some of the least “artistic” students have produced great results – remember the performance itself is not marked as a show!

Clear Instructions
It is difficult to explain clearly to students the first time they do it – on the other hand, how much time and effort is required to explain “write an exegesis”?

Click on Project Instructions to see the written information the students received.

Click on Project Marking Sheet to see the criteria against which the projects were assessed.

For Example
Here are two sample performances, I have not presented the students justifications – that were marked – you can work them out for yourselves (as homework ;-) these were chosen as good examples of what is possible, and because they are quite different from one another. They were also two for which the students concerned had given permission for me to show them off!

Genesis 1

Genesis 22

Displaying Project Performances
The Genesis 1 project was presented in the way of a physical object. The Genesis 22 project was presented as a Powerpoint performance. Tim has used Camtasia to display these projects on the Internet.


Image: Dr. Tim Bulkeley

Please keep forwarding to me for posting, your creative happenings and ideas about theological education.

Dr. Geoff Pound
Chair, Coordinating Committee
Theologians Without Borders.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rowland Croucher: Creativity in Theological Education

Colourful CV
Rowland Croucher has a long and distinguished record as a pastor, consultant, coach, counselor, teacher, web site minister, blogger and founder and director of John Mark Ministries.

Many of you will have known Rowland through his resourceful web site, which at the last count, had about 2.5 million visitors a month or as a better measure: 8,000+ unique visitors each week-day and 6,000+ most days on weekends.

TWB Par Excellence
As a pastor and now in his retirement, Rowland has served as a theologian without borders, teaching in seminaries and Bible Colleges as a Visiting teacher/Adjunct Professor in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and India. A popular speaker at Pastor’s Conferences and Retreat Leader, Rowland has encouraged and challenged pastors in more than thirty countries of the world.

Still Available
While Rowland has given up ‘rough land travel’ he is still open to volunteer international ministry so long as oil prices don’t bump the airfares up too high. Do write and sound him out about some possibility (his email address is on his web site) and feel free to use me as a go-between.

Creativity in Theological Education
Rowland has always been a keen observer of seminaries and their influence on pastors. When asked about creativity in this sphere Rowland noted two significant changes:

1. Theological colleges preparing future pastors for pastoral ministry as 'vocational seminaries' rather than purely academic institutions. About 95% of the pastors I talk to can't see the value of Greek, Hebrew, and much of church history in their day-to-day pastoring. They'd have preferred a crash-course in using a lexicon etc. then more 'transferable concepts' of a practical nature. Fortunately this is gradually changing.

2. Pedagogical methodologies moving from 'jug-to-mug' transfer of information, to transformative, interactive, action/reflection, 'redemptive' models of teaching (see Henri Nouwen's excellent little book on this, Creative Ministry, which contrasts redemptive and coercive models of education). And theology 'lectures' (for example) which don't have a 'wow' element to them are, I believe, not conducive to doing much more than equipping people to pass exams rather than pass on something transformative.

Rowland has more creative suggestions on assessment and other topics but these will be included in another posting.

Creative Ideas?
If you have any responses, you are encouraged to make these by clicking on ‘Comment’ below.

If you have some creative things happening in regard to theological education or training, do write to me and we may put these into a new posting on this site.

What about You?
Do let me know if in the immediate or long term future there might be a possibility of you teaching an intensive (one week, two weeks, a month etc) in places such as these countries that are seeking assistance:

N E India

Vietnam

India (This is a visit of encouragement working with several churches)

Myanmar

The dates are often flexible with the ability to accommodate the diary of a visiting teacher. The requests usually expect some speaking with churches and different groups.

Let me know if you would like more information about any of the above places and opportunities. My postings are intentionally basic and lacking in detail and names.

Please pass these needs on to others that might be able to assist in this next year.

If you need information about what TWB is about you can point people to this article on the TWB site, this statement recently posted in the US or this one posted on an Australian web site.

Let me know if you are seeking a teacher or a conference speaker and I can get the word out.

Dr. Geoff Pound
(Chair, Coordinating Committee of TWB)

Image: Rowland Croucher.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Myanmar Theological Education Disrupted by Cyclone

Because of the devastation and electricity cuts in Myanmar it has been difficult to get information from this cyclone- ravaged country. We are grateful to WCC Media for this article:

Amongst the widespread devastation disseminated by Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar theological institutions were not spared their share of damage and loss.

“There is so much suffering, sadness and loss”, said Rev. Peter Joseph, executive secretary of the Association for Theological Education in Myanmar, talking in Geneva today about the consequences of the cyclone that hit the country on 2 May.

According to UN figures, over 77,000 people died, more than 55,000 are still missing, and 150,000 were displaced, with the number of affected people reaching 2, 4 million.

“Two of our students died in the Irrawaddy Delta”, Joseph reported. “We do not have theological schools there, but they were on summer assignments, working at their churches in what we call field education.”

Eleven out of the 32 theological institutions that are members of the association are in the Rangoon area. Most of them were damaged and cannot open for the new school year, which normally starts in June. “The most affected ones are trying to rebuild as fast as they can with help from churches and colleagues from near and afar”, Joseph said.

Amidst the devastation, churches are struggling to assist people in need. “Churches are mobilizing youth from their congregations to help clearing up the damage in Rangoon and to serve in other affected areas”, reported Joseph, who is the pastor of the Immanuel Telugu Baptist Church.

They are not alone. Local organizations are mobilizing hundreds of volunteers and are procuring relief goods locally in Rangoon and in the Delta region, reported today the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International.

“Aid is going out everyday, and local organizations are reaching thousands of people”, an ACT member representative said. Through already established networks of community-based organizations, ACT members have assisted more than 100,000 people since the days immediately following the cyclone.

“The effects of the destruction are seen almost everywhere... But what is striking is the coping mechanisms of the Burmese people,” explained an ACT member representative.

Source: WCC Media, Worldwide Faith News (WFN), 28 May 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr. Anna May Say Pa, Principal of the Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT), conferring a degree on one of the graduates, in better times.

Modeling Creativity in Theological Education

One often thinks of the teaching content that is offered but a great contribution of going to another place to teach is the creative teaching approaches you will take with you.

Simply by doing what you normally do in your home context you will model a different way of teaching and learning.

By using your mix of lectures, tutorials, student presentations and drama you will often unconsciously be suggesting new ways for students and teachers to try or adapt after you leave.

Talking of new ways, check out the practice of World Café, a creative process for telling stories and preparing for change.

Link: World Café, Stories for Speakers and Writers, 26 December 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Creative new way of cutting the lawn.

Teologi Senza Frontiere

Teologi Senza Frontiere (TSF) è un ministero della Baptist World Alliance che si occupa seminari che necessitano di insegnanti a breve termine e congressi che necessitano di predicatori, fornendo persone che siano preparate e disponibili a servire.

Sebbene sia un’iniziativa originariamente sorta in ambito battista, essa non è esclusivamente rivolta ai Battisti. Sono già arrivate manifestazioni di interesse e richieste di aiuto da persone e seminari che rappresentano i diversi rami della Chiesa.

La Visione che emerge
La visione è emersa nel 2006, dalla mia esperienza di volontario come insegnante di seminario e conferenziere. Quando fu nota la mia disponibilità non solo ho ricevuto più richieste di quante potessi esaudire ma ho avuto molte opportunità in quelle zone che non erano di mia primaria competenza. Come abbiamo detto, abbiamo immaginato una coordinazione flessibile che possa agire come un ente in grado di far fronte ai vari dubbi; possiamo interpretare in vari modi l’appello macedone “venite ed aiutateci!”, un servizio combinato in grado di riunire persone con le qualità adatte e un approccio teologico adeguato in un centro risorse che possa preparare sia gli insegnanti sia le istituzioni che li riceveranno.

Di chi abbiamo bisogno?
La parola “teologi” è usata largamente per riferirsi non solo a coloro che insegnano in un seminario ma anche a pastori in grado di preparare persone che fanno pratica e diventano esperti nell’insegnamento delle cose di Dio, la Bibbia e una larga gamma di ministeri cristiani. Molte delle richieste stanno giungendo da luoghi dove c’è difficoltà nella pratica, pertanto un livello base in ambito teologico è spesso sufficiente e non è necessario un livello più elevato.

Incoraggiamento reciproco
Teologi Senza Frontiere si basa sul concetto biblico dell’associazionismo attraverso il quale facciamo esperienza di un incoraggiamento reciproco. Gli insegnanti che insegnano nel seminario per una settimana o un mese, oppure i predicatori che parlano alla Conferenza dei Pastori generalmente lo fanno a loro spese o sono supportati dal loro seminario, dalla loro assemblea o dalla loro chiesa. Ciò che chiediamo è di ospitare tali colleghi per far fronte alle spese per il vitto e l’alloggio.

Piccoli passi
Teologi Senza Frontiere ha iniziato sommessamente ma ciò non significa necessariamente che le aspettative verso di noi non possano aumentare. Le richieste di assistenza ci sono arrivate da molti paesi come Nepal, Vietnam, India, Malesia, Cina, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Birmania, Tailandia, Bolivia e Sierra Leone. Molte di queste richieste giungono da regioni in cui la fede cristiana è vista con sospetto, pertanto abbiamo reputato saggio non rendere noti tali dettagli sul nostro sito internet.

Gamma di richieste e doni richiesti
Le richieste sono di natura molto varia, per esempio “Abbiamo bisogno di un insegnante” o “Abbiamo bisogno di qualcuno con capacità finanziarie che ci aiuti a riordinare i nostri conti” oppure “C’è qualcuno in grado aiutarci ad ideare un’appropriata strategia per formare i leader delle chiese nel nostro paese?”. E spesso più facile rispondere a domande più specifiche come, ad esempio, “avremmo bisogno di un predicatore o un insegnante che ci fornisca degli studi sull’Antico Testamento per la nostra Conferenza Annuale dei Pastori”, oppure “Avremmo bisogno di un ciclo di Seminari Regionali per le chiese (in queste date) che abbiano come soggetto la risoluzione di conflitti nelle chiese”.

Espressione di un interesse
Gradualmente stanno uscendo notizie a proposito della TSF, sebbene finora espressioni di interesse siano giunte perlopiù da USA, Australia, Nuova Zelanda, Filippine e Inghilterra. Questi “Teologi senza frontiere” hanno incluso insegnanti di seminari, insegnanti in pensione e pastori studenti laureati con la qualità adatte, pastori di chiese, laici e combinazioni di mariti e mogli. Usate il template “espressione di interesse” (senza richiedere un impegno preciso) per esprimere I vostri pensieri, doni ed esperienze.

Uno degli obiettivi più importanti per gli insegnanti è di effettuare le visite con gli studenti (e i pastori con i loro membri di chiesa) così per creare una valida esperienza per la squadra di insegnanti. Ciò offre ricche opportunità (con la speranza di ricevere fondi dai seminari) per una riflessione teologica e una missione interculturale.

Donazioni creative
Alcuni insegnanti hanno le qualità e il tempo per servire non per fini di lucro, in questo modo sia chiese sia singoli possono sponsorizzare le persone interessate a tale esperienza finanziando un biglietto aereo o parte di esso.

Alcuni membri delle chiese battiste chiedono, prima di recarsi come turisti in un certo paese, “c’è un modo per diventare volontari secondo le nostre capacità e il tempo che abbiamo a disposizione?” quindi perché non combinare il ministero cristiano con il turismo?

Sottoscrizione delle destinazioni
Uno dei siti web dei Teologi Senza Frontiere ha redatto una lista di testimonianze di persone che hanno servito, alcune domande ricorrenti e un modulo attraverso il quale le persone possono effettuare la loro “espressione di interesse”.

Diffondere la Parola
Aiutateci a diffondere informazioni circa il TSF promuovendo il ministero nei seminari, nei congressi e nelle chiese, o mettendo dei link che riportino al sito web della TSF.

Dr Geoff Pound
Presidente del Comitato
Teologi Senza Frontiere
geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Image: Geoff Pound a Chiesa di Dante, Firenze.

Creating Non-Residential Modular Training

This article is one in a series of creative happenings in theological education. This story is from Asia.

Allan Harkness (pictured on the right) is Dean of the Asia Graduate School of Theology (Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand).

He has written a paper that evaluates the different training options that have been tried in Asia and then Allan sets forth a new training model that is being tested through AGST-MST.

Allan describes the non-residential modular study program that has been running since 2004 at the Asia Graduate School of Theology (Malaysia/Singapore/ Thailand), a consortium of many of the theological/Bible training institutions in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand which are linked to the Asia Theological Association (an evangelical network with about 170 member and associate institutions).

Initially, two post-graduate programs in Christian education are being offered by AGST-MST: a Master of Theology (Education) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Education). Further programs are being developed.

Some key features of AGST-MST's ethos in developing its programs:
* The programs are structured to enable participants to study without massive ministry and family upheavals.
* The program fees are set to be affordable.
* AGST-MST is concerned to train Asian Christian leaders in their own context, which means that they run the programs locally.

It would be good to hear from people in the programme. How are you finding this style of training? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do leave your responses as a Comment.

Link to the paper: How Shall We Train?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Allan Harkness is on the right with his friend Alex Tang. Alex, among other things, is a doctor, blogger and author, based in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Providing a Taster for Theological Education

Further in the series on creative things happening in theological education is the notion of a short term trial and experience of something that could go longer and deeper.

The idea is to provide courses or streams for those not sure about or ready for a three year Seminary Education.

Morling College, Sydney, Australia has developed Plunge, a “one year of focussed biblical and spiritual engagement for 18-23 year olds looking to journey deeper into life and faith.” It leads to a Certificate in Christian Studies but it is a first step for people testing out whether they want to plunge deeper.

Tabor College, in Victoria, Australia has A Year in the Son, which is similar to Morling’s Plunge and is developed for the same purpose.

The theological rationale for this approach is ‘taste and see’!

People make a short term commitment which suits the generation that finds commitment hard to muster. It gives them the experience of theological education, earns them credit if they choose to pursue a longer journey and overcomes the idea and stigma of ‘dropping out’ if they leave during the first part of a three year course.

Thanks to Graham Hill, Lecturer in Pastoral & Practical Studies at Morling College, for drawing our attention to this creative idea.

If you have a creative idea in theological education that you think would be encouraging to others, send me a letter and we can make a posting.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Plunge!

Monday, May 26, 2008

„Theologen Ohne Grenzen“

Theologen Ohne Grenzen (TOG) ist ein Dienst des Weltbundes der Baptisten, der Seminare und Konferenzen die Dozenten und Prediger für kurze Zeiträume benötigen, mit ausgebildeten und abrufbaren Fachkräften in Verbindung bringt.

TOG ist zwar von Baptisten ausgegangen, ist aber auch für andere Kirchen offen und hat schon Interesse unter anderen kirchlichen Gruppen geweckt.

Die Anfänge der Vision
Die Vision wurde Anfang 2006 aus meiner Erfahrung als freiwilliger Dozent und Konferenzsprecher geboren. Als meine Bereitschaft zu diesem Dienst bekannt wurde, habe ich nicht nur mehr Einladungen erhalten als ich annehmen konnte, sondern auch Einladungen die außerhalb meines Fachbereichs lagen. Nach vielen Gesprächen hat sich folgende Vision entwickelt: Wir wollen eine flexible Gruppe von Leuten bilden, die die verschiedenen Einladungen für Dozenten, Konferenzsprecher und Predigern koordiniert, um solchen Einladungen wie von den Mazedoniern, “kommt rüber und helft uns”, gerecht zu werden. Wir stellen uns ein Vermittlungsinstitut vor, das Leute mit verschiedenen theologischen Schattierungen und Fachbereichen zusammenbringt, ein Institut, das sowohl die Dozenten/Prediger als auch die jeweiligen kirchlichen Gruppen für diesen Dienst ausrüstet.

Wer wird gesucht?
Der Begriff „Theologe” ist weit gefasst und beinhaltet nicht nur Leute, die Theologie unterrichten. Wir suchen auch fähige Pastoren und Laien, die Ausbildung und Fachkenntnisse im Lehren über Gott, die Bibel und in verschiedenen Bereichen des christlichen Dienstes haben. Viele Einladungen kommen von Gemeinden die so dringend Training und Lehre benötigen, dass oft eine einfache theologische Ausbildung ausreicht und höhere theologische Abschlüsse nicht immer nötig sind.

Gegenseitige Ermutigung
TOG basiert auf dem biblischen Partnerschaftprinzip durch das wir gegenseitige Ermutigung erfahren. Dozenten die für eine Woche oder einen Monat an einem Seminar unterrichten oder Prediger, die bei einer Pastorenkonferenz sprechen, decken normalerweise ihre eigenen Kosten oder werden von ihrem eigenen Seminar, Bund oder Kirchengemeinde unterstützt. Die empfangenden Partner decken die Kosten für Essen und Unterkunft.

Kleine Anfänge
TOG hat klein angefangen, um nicht zu hohe Erwartungen zu erzeugen. Nachfragen für Unterstützung sind von vielen Ländern eingetroffen, zum Beispiel, von Nepal, Vietnam, Indien, Malaisien, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesien, Birma, Thailand, Bolivien und Sierra Leone. Viele dieser Anfragen kommen von Gebieten die dem christlichen Glauben kritisch gegenüberstehen, weshalb wir genaue Details nicht über Internet bekanntgeben können.

Art der Anfragen und der benötigten Hilfe
Die Anfragen sind oft sehr weitgefasst, z. B., „Wir könnten einen Dozenten gebrauchen“ oder „Wir brauchen einen Experten in Finanzen, der oder die unsere Buchhaltung erledigen kann“ oder „Kann uns irgend jemand helfen, eine Strategie für die Ausbildung unserer Pastoren und Gemeindeleiter zu entwickeln?“ Oft ist es einfacher, genauer gefassten Anfragen entgegenzukommen, z.B. „Wir brauchen einen Prediger oder Dozenten, der oder die die Studien zum Alten Testament an unserer jährlichen Pastorenkonferenz leitet“ oder „Bitte organisiert uns eine Reihe von Kirchen Seminare für unsere regionalen Gemeinden zum Thema: Umgang mit Konflikten in der Gemeinde.“

Zeigen Sie Ihr Interesse
TOG wird mehr und mehr bekannt und Interesse zu helfen wurde bereits von Leuten aus den USA, Australien, Neuseeland, den Philippinen und England angeboten. Diese Theologen Ohne Grenzen sind Dozenten, pensionierte Lehrer und Pastoren, fähige Leute mit Universitätsabschluss, Pastoren, Laien und Ehepaare, die zusammen helfen können. Klicken Sie auf das Feld Interessenbekundigung (ohne eine definitive Zusage zu geben), um uns über Ihre Gedanken, Begabungen und Befähigungen zu informieren.

Es ist ermutigend zu sehen, wie manche Seminare ihre Dozenten aktiv ermutigen, alle zwei bis fünf Jahre eine regelmäßige Unterrichts oder Predigerzeit im Ausland einzuplanen. Es gibt auch die Möglichkeit für Dozenten zusammen mit ihren Studenten (oder Pastoren mit ihren Gemeindegliedern) einen bereichernden Dienst als Team auszuführen. Dies bietet reichhaltige Möglichkeiten für theologische Bildung und interkultureller Missionserfahrung an (die hoffentlich von Seminaren formal anerkannt werden).

Kreatives Geben
Einige Dozenten und Prediger haben die Befähigung und die Zeit zu dienen, haben aber nicht das Geld dafür. Deshalb können andere Leute und Gemeinden diese Leute unterstützen, in dem sie Flüge für diese willigen Leute bezahlen oder ihre Flugmailen verschenken.

Manche Gemeindeglieder fragen an, ob es Möglichkeiten gibt, ihre Zeit und Fähigkeiten zur Verfügung zu stellen bevor sie in ein bestimmtes Land in den Urlaub gehen. Warum nicht Tourismus mit christlichem Dienst verbinden?

Erhalten Sie regelmäßige Neuigkeiten
Eine TOG Internet Seite wurde erstellt mit Berichten von Leuten, die bereits einen Dienst geleistet haben. Außerdem erhält die Internet Seite Auskünfte über derzeitige Dienstmöglichkeiten, und ein Formular durch das man sein Interesse bekunden kann.

Informieren Sie andere Interessierte
Bitte helfen Sie uns den Dienst der TOG zu unterstützen in dem Sie Seminare, Kirchenvereinigungen und Gemeinden von diesem Dienst wissen lassen, oder indem Sie eine Verbindung zu unserer Web Seite herstellen.

Dr Geoff Pound
Vorsitzender, Koordinationskommittee
Theologen Ohne Grenzen
geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Creativity through Travel and Transplantation

This is a further article in the series of Creativity in Theological Education.

Travel
When the Earl of Chesterfield was asked about how one might get a good education he replied: “You need to do three things—No. 1 travel. No. 2 travel and No. 3 travel.

So many have consciously or unconsciously followed his prescription and found their preconceptions have been challenged, their thinking has been broadened and their views of the world enlarged.

Transplantation
In his book, The Custom-House, Nathaniel Hawthorne suggests that transplanting people into new soil makes them hardier and causes them to flourish. Their human capital (in the way of goodness, industry and creativity) is multiplied when people “strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.”

Unaccustomed as I Am
Jhumpa Lahire’s new collection of short stories adopts as its title Hawthorne’s phrase, ‘Unaccustomed Earth’. She does not embrace Hawthorne’s suggestion that every transplant automatically succeeds. She writes of Indians of Bengali descent like herself whose clans have been uprooted from India and Bangladesh and have transplanted to the UK or the USA. She notes that while some flourish, others rise and fall.

Theologians in New Soil
One of the spin offs of doing a stint of teaching in another country is that it gives us a rich opportunity to test ourselves in new soil. Teaching new people of a different culture will bring new lessons and insights to our familiar work as teachers. The experience of life by our students, especially if they have suffered greatly for their faith or have been displaced, somehow reveals new dimensions to our biblical and theological understandings.

Sometimes the harsh climatic conditions, the waiting, the confusion because of language barriers will also serve to test us and reveal new things to us about ourselves. While sometimes this might cause us to want to pull up our roots and head for familiar fields it will generally bring the best out of us and lead us to new understandings of the God who delights to lead us into the unfamiliar and work with us on ‘new things’.

Teaching in New Soil:
Do let me know if in the immediate or long term future there might be a possibility of you teaching an intensive (one week, two weeks, a month etc) in places such as these countries that are seeking assistance:
N E India

Vietnam

India (This is a visit of encouragement working with several churches)

Myanmar

* The dates are often flexible with the ability to accommodate the diary of a visiting teacher. The requests usually expect some speaking with churches and different groups.

* Do let me know if you would like more information about any of the above places and opportunities. My postings are intentionally basic and lacking in detail and names.

* Please pass these needs on to others that might be able to assist in this next year.

* If you need information about what TWB is about you can point people to this article on the TWB site, this statement recently posted in the US or this one posted on an Australian web site

* Do let me know if you are seeking a teacher or a conference speaker and I can get the word out.

Dr. Geoff Pound
(Chair, Coordinating Committee of TWB)

Image: The old Custom House where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked in Salem, Massachusetts; Front Cover of the new book by Jhumpa Lahire, Unaccustomed Earth.

Extra:
Check out the great story about how Hawthorne was painfully uprooted from the Custom House and into fulltime writing.

Stories at High Altitude (especially for travellers)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chile: Learning Theology Together in the Field

Further in our new series on Creative Things Happening in Theological Education, Dr. Josué Fonseca writes from Chile about creativity being put into practice this week by his Seminario Teológico Bautista (Baptist Theological Seminary) in Santiago.

This week (commencing 25 May 2008) their complete Seminary community will travel 2000 klms by bus (36 hours trip) to do a week of mission in northern Chile.

Josué, who is the ‘Decano’ (Dean) writes:
“Faculty, students and personnel will perform many activities as an In-Field-Training-theology project, as a way to celebrate our 69 anniversary as Seminary.”

“We will assist 30 local churches in eight major cities, witnessing in radio, newspapers, open air, home visiting, rallies, lectures at secondary schools, visit to prisons, elderly homes, children homes, poor villages, army bases, and so on.”

“Here you have one in full action next week. It is two decades now that we as Seminary realized that theological education without practising together can be only theoretical and empty in many ways. Being together in full action is another completely different story.”

It could have been much easier just to send the students off on assignment while their professors stayed back to mark essays and write lectures. But think of the sense of community that will be built up by professors and students travelling and ministering together? What opportunities for theological reflection! What credibility this is likely to give as students see their teachers engage in ministry.

I hope we get some feedback from the staff and students in the Comments of this posting.

Do pray for the Seminario Teológico Bautista especially in this week of creativity, community and concern.

Pray also for the nation of Chile as at this time different regions are facing devastation caused by volcanoes and floods.

* Do subscribe to these regular postings by clicking on the Subscriber button
* Let me know of creative things that are happening in your sphere of theological education.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Map of Chile; Josué Fonseca.

Creativity in Theological Education articles:

Get an Inkling into Creativity

Creativity Killers

Théologiens Sans Frontières

Théologiens sans frontières (TSF) est un ministère de l’Alliance Baptiste Mondiale dont le but est de mettre en contact soit des écoles de théologie ayant besoin d’enseignants à court terme, soit des fédérations d’églises ayant besoin de predicateurs avec des personnes formées et disponibles pour le service.

Issu des églises baptistes, TSF ne se veut pas néanmoins exclusivement baptiste. Nous avons déjà reçu des expressions d’intérêt et des demandes d’aide émanant d’autres branches de l’église.

Naissance de la vision
La vision est née en 2006 alors que je commençais un travail volontaire comme professeur de théologie et orateur de conférence. Au fur et à mesure que ma disponibilité s’est faite savoir je commençais a être sollicité au-delà de mes disponibilités, et ceci souvent pour des tâches pour lesquelles je n’avais pas forcément l’expertise requise. Après plusieurs discussions nous avons envisagé de créer un groupe de coordination flexible, pouvant servir comme point central pour le traitement des demandes, capable de sonner l’appel macédonien: “Venez nous aider!”, une sorte de service matrimonial à travers lequel on pourrait rapprocher des gens ayant les mêmes sensibilités théologiques et les capacités nécessaires; un centre de ressources pouvant préparer en même temps les enseignants et les institutions destinées à les accueillir.

De qui avons-nous besoin?
On utilise le mot “théologiens” pour désigner non seulement ceux qui enseignent dans une faculté de théologie, mais aussi des pasteurs compétents et des laïcs capables et formés pour donner un enseignement sur Dieu, la Bible, et un éventail de ministères chrétiens. De nombreux demandes proviennent d’endroits ou le besoin de formation est urgent, donc un simple diplôme de base peut suffire, et on n’a pas forcément besoin d’un ou de plusieurs diplômes de théologie spécialisés.

L’encouragement mutuel
TSF est fondé sur la notion biblique du partenariat à travers lequel nous pratiquons l’encouragement mutuel. Des professeurs qui enseignent dans une faculté pendant une semaine ou un mois ou des prédicateurs qui donnent des messages à un congrès de pasteurs viennent généralement soit à leurs propres frais soit soutenus par leur faculté, leur fédération ou leur église locale. Les frais de nourriture et d’hébergement reviennent au partenaire d’accueil.

Des petits commencements
TSF a commencé de façon modeste afin de ne pas créer trop d’espoir trop rapidement. On a reçu des demandes d’aide de nombreux pays, dont le Népal, le Vietnam, l’Inde, la Malaisie, la Chine, le Sri Lanka, l’Indonésie, la Birmanie, la Bolivie et la Sierra Leone. De nombreuses demandes proviennent de régions peu ouvertes à la foi chretienne, et il serait donc peu sage de diffuser tous les détails sur Internet.

De quoi avons-nous besoin?
Les demandes sont souvent larges, p.ex. “On a besoin d’un enseignant” ou “Nous cherchons quelqu’un ayant des capacités financières pour mettre de l’ordre dans nos comptes” ou “Quelqu’un peut-il venir nous aider à développer une stratégie appropriée pour former des responsables d’église dans notre état ou pays?” Il est souvent plus facile de répondre à un appel plus spécifique, p.ex, “On cherche un prédicateur ou un enseignant pour donner des études sur l’Ancien Testament à notre Congrès Annuel de Pasteurs” ou “Pourriez-vous donner une série de séminaires d’église régionaux au sujet de la résolution des conflits au sein de l’église”.

Exprimer de l’intérêt
Petit à petit TSF se fait connaître, mais jusqu’à présent ceux qui ont signalé leur intention de nous aider viennent des USA, de l’Australie, de la Nouvelle-Zélande, des Iles Philippines, et de l’Angleterre. Parmi ces “théologiens sans frontières” on trouve des professeurs de faculté de théologie, des professeurs et des pasteurs à la retraite, des jeunes diplômés compétents en fin de cours, des pasteurs, et des équipes mari/femme. Utilisez la page “expression d’intérêt” (sans vous engager) pour nous faire connaître vos pensées, vos capacités, votre expertise.

Il est réconfortant de voir plusieurs facultés de théologie encourager de façon active leurs enseignants à insérer dans leur emploi du temps un créneau pour l’enseignement ou la prédication international sur une période de deux à cinq ans. Les enseignants ont une possibilité formidable de partir avec leurs étudiants (et les pasteurs avec leurs membres d’église), créant ainsi une expérience précieuse d’apprentissage en commun. Ces occasions deviennent des sources très riches de réflexion théologique et d’expérience de mission interculturelle (pour laquelle on pourrait toujours espérer des unités de valeur pour le diplôme!)

Des dons imaginatifs
Certains enseignants et prédicateurs ont les capacités et le temps de servir, mais non pas l’argent; d’autres personnes ou églises ont la possibilité de les sponsoriser en payant le voyage ou en leur passant leur kilomètres gratuits.

Plusieurs membres d’églises baptistes posent la question, avant de partir en touriste pour un certain pays “Existe-t-il une façon d’offrir notre temps et notre service?” Pourquoi pas joindre le ministère chrétien au tourisme?

Abonnez-vous
Un site web de TSF existe, avec des témoignages de ceux qui ont déjà servi, quelques demandes courantes, et une page à travers laquelle on peut exprimer son intérêt.

Répandez la Parole
Veuillez nous aider à répandre la parole sur TSF en faisant de la publicité au sein des facultés, des fédérations et des églises, ou en créant des liens au site de TSF.


Dr Geoff Pound
Le Président d’un Comité
Théologiens Sans Frontières
geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Photo: Une église près de Digne-les-Bains, 2007.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What Type of Theologian Without Borders Are You?

Welcome
A warm welcome to you, especially if you are a new reader of this Theologians Without Borders (TWB) web site. A special ‘Hola’ to Spanish-speaking visitors to this site who have seen the statement about TWB entitled Teólogos Sin Fronteras.

We are gradually crashing through the barriers and borders of language and more statements about the vision and workings of TWB will appear soon in French, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.

I have asked several people to help with translations but if you can help translate material for people of another language, do write to me.

What Type of TWB Are You?
I don’t want to squeeze people into categories but I did want to encourage your involvement by telling you about the type of people who have been serving as Theologians Without Borders.

Retired Pastors & Teachers
Dr. Peter Tow (pictured) appears anything but retired. Born in Singapore, trained mainly in the USA, experienced as a Youth Pastor, Pastor, Evangelist, Church Planter, Church Consultant, Peter spends many weeks of the year away from his home in San Jose teaching and training. He has spent much time ministering in the Ukraine but his ministry focus is shifting more towards Asia as numbers of theological educators are seeking his services in both Chinese and English languages. With so many opportunities, Peter has ushered others into short-term ministry through the Global Missions Partnership umbrella organisation. (Read more about Peter’s work and availability from this site).

Also, check out the way Dick Pierard has been redefining retirement.

Retired people often have greater flexibility and freedoms with time than those in permanent of contracted employment and with years of experience they have so much to contribute.

With the coming of the baby boomers into retirement we are going to see scores of pastors and teachers who are not content to play golf every day but they will want to be engaging in strategic ministries. Those entering retirement may turn out to be the biggest resource group for TWB.

Pastors
Russell Drowley is a pastor in Melbourne, Australia who several years ago accepted an invitation to go on a speaking, training visit to Asia. He loved it. Since then he has traveled to China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Russell’s church has supported these ventures by giving him time off and actually seeing this as part of his and their wider ministry.

Russell has seen the strategic importance of taking a team of people from his church on these trips. Read about the way this works, what a stretching experience it has been for those who go and the development of a living and growing international partnership between the Aussie and Filipino congregations.

If you are a pastor with an international passion, why don’t you be part of the growing number of pastors who are being sent out by their church to speak at Leadership Conferences or to offer training? Please note that while theological degrees are valued there are many places seeking help with training that do not have rigid conditions requiring the possession of degrees at this level or the other. People certainly must have something to say and possess teaching ability and cross-cultural sensitivity. Those who currently serve as pastors often bring welcome gifts of encouragement and can act as a valuable sounding board for the local people.

Remember that TWB is seeking to bring together people for groups wanting conference speakers, as well as matching teachers with seminaries asking for help.

Seminary Teachers
George Wieland teaches at Carey Baptist College in New Zealand where like many seminaries, he gets a sabbatical every few years. Instead of heading to some prestigious seminary to do months of research in the library and write books George wanted to get international experience in a very different context from NZ. Read about his worthwhile experiences in North East India. Check out the story of Lilian Lim who teaches and consults in different parts of Asia and the USA. Or Keith Dyer’s experience in Bangladesh. Or have a look at Tim Bulkeley’s site Teaching OT in Faraway Places.

While a sabbatical every few years gives a wonderful opportunity to do an international assignment in a ‘faraway place’ there are an increasing number of seminaries which actively encouraging (and continue to pay) their teachers to spend several weeks each year in some international ministry assignment. What a great contribution and vision this is and it brings to the sending seminary a strong international dimension that their students find to be inspirational.

What About You?
So which category of the above do you naturally fit into? Hopefully there are, and will continue to be, many more creative ways of engaging in short and long term international partnerships for training and mutual encouragement.

What You Can Do?
* I would love to hear from you even if it is to say, ‘Keep me in mind’ or ‘I have a growing interest’ or ‘I am already involved in similar ventures’.

* Subscribe to the site by clicking on the subscriber link. There is not formal membership but this web site is a notice board on which we can post ‘calls for help’. For many important reasons I cannot supply specific detail in the postings so do email me asking for further information.

* Check out the Type of person that is needed for a TWB and without making any commitment, adapt and fill in the Expression of Interest template and send it to me.

* Put a link to this TWB site on your personal web site and ask to get a link created on your seminary, church and convention web sites to help get the word out.

* Republish in part or in full the article on the John Mark Ministries site or my Statement from the Soapbox or the introductory posting about the vision and workings of TWB.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr. Peter Tow

Extras
Stories for Speakers and Writers is a resource site to which I regularly supply contributions.

Making Life Decisions is a free, online book for individuals, groups and churches wondering about God’s direction and thinking about making a journey of discernment.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Teólogos Sin Fronteras por Geoff Pound

Teólogos Sin Fronteras (TSF) es un ministerio de la Alianza Bautista Mundial que reúne Seminarios que tienen necesidades de profesores de corto plazo y Convenciones que necesitan predicadores con personas que están preparadas y disponibles para servir.

Aunque éste ha comenzado entre los Bautistas no se trata de una acción exclusivamente Bautista. Expresiones de interés y pedidos de ayuda han llegado de personas y seminarios representando diferentes ramas de la iglesia.

Visión emergente
Esta visión surgió de mi experiencia cuando comencé en los inicios de 2006 a nivel de voluntario como profesor de Seminario y conferencista. Cuando mi disponibilidad se hizo conocida no sólo recibí muchas más solicitudes de las que pude aceptar pero varias de estas oportunidades estaban en áreas que no eran de mi especialidad. Mientras lo hablábamos, nosotros visualizamos un grupo flexible de coordinación que pueda funcionar como centro de monitoreo para las solicitudes, en varias formas podíamos oír resonar el llamado “pasa a Macedonia y ayúdanos”, un servicio de interconexión que pueda relacionar expertos con la especialidad y el matiz teológico adecuado y un centro de recursos que prepare tanto a los profesores visitantes como a las instituciones solicitantes que los recibirán.

¿Quién es requerido?
La palabra “teólogo” o “teóloga” es utilizada en forma amplia para referir no sólo a aquellos/as que enseñan teología en un Seminario, sino también para aquellos pastores y laicos idóneos que tienen entrenamiento y destreza en enseñar de Dios, la Biblia en un variado espectro de ministerios cristianos. Muchas de las solicitudes están llegando de lugares donde están desesperados por la formación, así que un grado principal llega a ser suficiente y no forzosamente un posgrado o un grado superior.

Esfuerzos mutuos
Teólogos Sin Fronteras está basado en el concepto bíblico de comunidad o hermandad por medio del cual experimentamos esfuerzo y aliento mutuo. Docentes que enseñan en un Seminario por una semana o un mes, o expositores que predican en una Conferencia de Pastores que pueden viajar por sus propios recursos o son pagados por sus Seminarios, convención o iglesia local. La responsabilidad de la institución solicitante es proveer los costos de alimentación y hospedaje.

Pequeños comienzos
Teólogos Sin Fronteras –TSF se ha iniciado en una forma reducida, de modo de no levantar las expectativas en forma innecesaria. Pedidos de asistencia han llegado de muchos países incluyendo Nepal, Vietnam, India, Malasia, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar, Tailandia, Bolivia y Sierra Leona. Muchos de los pedidos vienen de regiones que no son favorables a la fe cristiana, por lo que la publicación de más detalles en la página web resultaría imprudente.

Áreas de Solicitud y Dones Requeridos
Las solicitudes son frecuentemente amplias, ej. “podría ser un profesor”, o “queremos alguien con especialidad financiera para ayudarnos con nuestras contabilidades”, o “¿puede alguien sentarse con nosotros y ayudarnos con una adecuada estrategia para entrenar líderes eclesiales de nuestra provincia o país?” Es siempre más sencillo responder a necesidades que son específicas, ej. “nos gustaría un predicador o profesor para entregar algunos estudios de Antiguo Testamento en nuestra Conferencia Anual de Pastores”, o “ por favor presente una serie seminarios regionales (en estas fechas) en el tema de Resolución de Conflicto en la Iglesia”.

Exprese su interés
Gradualmente la noticia acerca de Teólogos Sin Fronteras –TSF se está expandiendo, pero hasta aquí las expresiones de interés para ofrecer ayudas han llegado de EEUU, Australia, Nueva Zelandia, Filipinas e Inglaterra. Estos teólogos sin fronteras son profesores de seminarios, docentes y pastores jubilados, estudiantes graduados competentes, pastores de iglesias, laicos y esposo y esposa en ministerio combinado. Use el formato de Expresión de Interés (sin hacer un compromiso definido) para hacernos saber sus pensamientos, dones y especialidad.

Resulta alentador ver algunos seminarios animando activamente a sus profesores para incluir en sus Contratos de Trabajo un periodo de enseñanza y predicación regular a nivel internacional en un lapso de dos a cinco años. Hay un amplio terreno para que profesores hagan visitas con sus estudiantes (y pastores con miembros de sus iglesias) transformándolas en una valiosa experiencia en equipo de enseñanza-aprendizaje en terreno. Esto presenta ricas oportunidades (mejor aún si recibiera crédito en el seminario) para reflexiones teológicas y para exponerse a la misión intercultural.

Donaciones creativas
Algunos maestros y pastores tienen la especialidad y el tiempo para servir, pero no el dinero, así como otras personas e iglesias pueden patrocinarles por medio del pago del boleto aéreo o compartiendo su kilometraje aéreo.

Algunos bautistas están preguntando, antes que vayan a visitar de vacaciones a algún país, “hay alguna forma en que podamos servir algún tiempo como voluntarios?”. ¿Por qué no combinar el turismo con algún ministerio cristiano?

Inscríbase en la web
Un sitio de Teólogos Sin Fronteras –TSF se ha subido a la web para ofrecer testimonios de personas que ya han servido, algunas solicitudes actuales y un formulario por medio del cual las personas pueden presentar una expresión de interés.

Pase la voz
Por favor ayúdenos a pasar la voz acerca de Teólogos Sin Fronteras –TSF, promoviendo este ministerio en seminarios, convenciones e iglesias, o vinculándolos a nuestra página web.

Dr Geoff Pound
Presidente del Comité Coordinador
Teólogos Sin Fronteras –TSF
geoffpound@yahoo.com.au

Dr Josue Fonseca
Consultor de Español

josuefonsecamolina@yahoo.com

Foto: Geoff Pound; maestro de baile en Peru.

Creativity Killers

In my series of articles on creativity in theological education I thought it worth sharing this posting by Brian Clark from his site, Copyblogger (one of the most popular sites on the web).

The post is entitled, ‘What’s the Ultimate Creativity Killer?’ and the image used is the same one pictured here.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” ~Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” ~Ken Olson, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” ~H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” ~Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” ~Gary Cooper turning down “Gone With the Wind.”

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. ~Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“The concept is interesting… but to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” ~Yale professor on conceptual paper that became FedEx.

Check out the rest of these statements and use them at the beginning of a brainstorming session when you want to dream up something that is adventurously creative.

Links to Copyblogger and Brian’s post on The Ultimate Creativity Killer.

I am one of the 33,000 subscribers to Brian’s site which I find to be a great help when having to write articles, promotional blurbs, letters and even lectures.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Extra:
On the theme of creativity here are four other stories from
sister site Stories for Speakers and Writers:

Mahatma Gandhi: The Most Creative experiences of His Life

F. W. Boreham: The Challenge of Drowned Hens

Mozart: Disciplined Creativity

Eric Clapton: Creativity out of the Crucible

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Get an Inkling into Creativity

Further in the series of fostering creativity in theological education, here is a tip from the literary world that can apply to any sphere.

Michael White sets the scene:

“Evening in Oxford, a few days before Christmas 1940. A bracing wind sweeps along St Giles and it is threatening to snow. Ensconced in their favourite pub, the Eagle and Child, a group of men sit around a plain wooden table each nursing a pint of beer while a few cup their pipes or draw on cigarettes. The room is filled with smoke and talk. Then one of the men, portly, balding and ruddy-faced, stands up and the others stop talking. Into the quiet fall the sounds from the pub: the hubbub of men making merry at the bar, the clink of glasses, laughter and raised voices.”

“The man clears his throat and tells the gathering that he has something a little different for them and that he hopes they’ll like it. It’s a piece of comic drama, he says, written in the form of letters from a senior devil to his nephew, an apprentice demon, in which he offers advice concerning the best way to capture the soul of a human. A couple of the party laugh briefly and there are smiles all round as the reading begins.”

“The reader is Clive Staples Lewis, always known to his friends and family as Jack. We are eavesdropping on a meeting of the Inklings, an informal literary group who, for more than twenty years between the early 1930s and the 1950s, gathered at least twice a week in pubs and college rooms in Oxford. At these meetings the members, most of them university dons and writers, read to the others their latest efforts and appraised each other’s work as the beer flowed.”

“Lewis speaks eloquently, telling his story in a deep, resonant tone, his rounded, precise English tinged with a faint Irish accent. Adopting voices and pulling faces, he enthralls his listeners, recounting his tale for fifteen minutes before returning to his chair to hand the floor to the next reader. A few moments later a chair shuffles across the wooden floorboards and Professor Tolkien stands up, pipe in hand. He takes a sip of beer, arranges his papers as the others look on and then begins to read.” (p1-2)

C. S. Lewis biographer, Michael White goes on to describe the seven or eight who made up this loose grouping of literary figures who would read to each other their unpublished work.

White said the meetings of The Inklings were “immensely influential.” Later in the book he adds this estimation:

“In 1996 soon after the first literary polls naming J. R. R. Tolkien as the most popular author of the twentieth century and placing Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe high in the ratings, journalist Nigel Reynolds commented: ‘[the poll] suggests that the Inklings, a 1930s Oxford drinking club has been a more powerful force than the Bloomsbury Group, the Algoquin set in New York, Hemingway’s Paris set or the W. H. Auden Christopher Isherwood group of writers of the 1930s.’”

Criteria
You may not like the exclusivity of this literary club as the membership changed very little. Or perhaps this was why it succeeded for so long.

You may draw up different criteria for your Inklings. Here are their membership qualifications:
* They had to be good conversationalists
* They had to be interested in or involved in writing
* They had to enjoy drinking
* They had to be a friend of Jack’s
* Most crucially, they had to be male

So What?
So much creativity is stirred by interaction that is informal yet which happens in regularly planned get-togethers of people who enjoy and trust each other. Unfortunately for the Inklings this trust and friendship was later tested but it served its creative purposes for many years.

Theological Creativity
Too often theological education is seen as that which happens in formal lectures, classes and tutorials but the Inklings illustrate that much learning and creativity can flow in cafes and restaurants in a context of conviviality.

Pictures of the Eagle and Child don’t suggest a 5 star ambience. Warm English beer may not be your favoured brew and smoke-filled rooms are in most countries a thing of the past.

Question
What might you and your colleagues do together to adapt the wise practice of the Inklings so that in your planning and learning you ensure that the creative juices might truly flow?

Source: Michael White, C. S. Lewis: The Boy Who Chronicled Narnia.

A review of this book appears on the web site Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Interior and exterior pictures of the Eagle and Child; the plaque on the wall.




Theologians Without Borders: Who’s Helping Who?

From My Inbox
I wanted to share with you a portion of a letter that I have received recently.

It contains a request for help but it has prompted me to think more about how we identify priorities with regard to Theologians Without Borders and to ask: “Who’s helping who?”

In order to preserve anonymity, (as in many cases, the writer is working in a country where freedom to worship and assemble are not always maintained), I have omitted names.

Preamble
After introducing himself here is the lead in to his call for help:

“I live in XYZ, and God has given me a vision to reach my own people, which represents a language group in the world with a total population of more than 250 million and less than 1% who are Christians.”

“I work for a church planting organization situated in ABC. So far we have planted more than 300 house churches in 10 years. We have a Bible School where we offer two specialized courses, one a 9 month residential training both for men and women and a non-residential course for lay people. Every year 25 students are being graduated from the former and 40 from the latter. These students are a tremendous blessing in the field ministry and in the church.”

“In our survey it is revealed that there are 3000 churches in this state where there is no pastor and each denominational pastor commonly looks after 8 to 10 churches each. Therefore, lay people are actually doing the ministry. They are very active and have a heart to serve the Lord but they do not have any formal theological training. These lay pastors are preaching two or three sermons repeatedly for years hence there is spiritual poverty in the church and the church is not growing as it should.”

“We have a VISION 2020 which means by year 2020 we would like to see 20% of the total population transformed to the life of Jesus. This means we need at least 19 million people and 20 thousand churches. For this we need to reach out, establish new churches as well as training and equipping the saints.”

“My earnest request to you, if possible is, ‘please help me…’”

RSVP
My initial reaction was to think that this man doesn’t need help! He needs to be helping others!

But after identifying areas of strength he does name the areas where others might come to help—in the way of visiting to train, encourage and to serve as a consultant.

Mutuality is the Key
I was inspired to read of this man’s immense vision, his well-thought out and long term strategy and his undaunted spirit in the face of massive numbers and numerous difficulties.

This is the way it usually is with TWB—not the expert coming in with lectures to teach the ignorant but coming in with humility and discovering that in the giving there is so much more that is being received.

Can You Help?
There is a need for people to assist with short term (one week) intensives in a number of subjects related to the training of pastors. High theological credentials are not required for this task.

Also there are opportunities to assist in the equipping of their lay leaders who are doing a terrific job but are running out of things to say to their people.

Do write to me (geoffpound@yahoo.com.au) if you would like further details in assessing whether you could make a contribution to this great vision.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Sometimes our work appears like we have huge mountains to climb. This is a picture of the mountains around Digne-les-Bains, France.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tim Costello on Bringing Aid to Burma

Many in the world of theological education will have met Tim Costello and will be especially interested in this posting.

Tim was trained in theology at Switzerland’s Rushlikon Seminary (now IBTS) and has been a frequent lecturer at Melbourne’s Whitley College and various seminaries around the world.

He was for many years an Australian representative at the meetings of the Baptist World Alliance.

Tim is now CEO of World Vision, Australia, so when the recent cyclone struck in Burma, he was one of the first there and he was given entry into the country.

Last weekend he returned to Melbourne with many insights and deep emotions about the extent of the tragedy and the obstacles that have been placed in the way of many Aid organizations.

An article based on an interview with Tim appeared in the Melbourne Age on 19 May 2008. Here is the link to the article: It’s difficult in there.’

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Tim Costello describing the guilt he felt coming home, and the devastation he left behind in Burma.

A follow up statement on 20 May 2008 by Tim Costello thankfully reports an easing of the access into Myanmar.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Creativity in Theological Education

In my last posting I asked you to help get the word out to your friends by promoting Theologians Without Borders.

Here is another good reason to commend this site ….

New Series
In addition to the regular notification of international opportunities and offers of service I am commencing a series of articles on Creative Things Happening in Theological Education around the world which I hope you will enjoy and contribute to. Here is the catalyst for this idea…

Creative Theological Models
I have been asked to speak about Theologians Without Borders at the forthcoming BWA-sponsored, Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE) that is to be held in Prague, 26-29 July 2008. My five cents worth is to be part of a conference segment in which several will share some creative theological models from their region. TWB is being seen as one of the new creative ventures that is gathering momentum across many regions.

Creative Things Happening?
To help me think about TWB in the context of creativity I wrote to many seminary teachers and interested people around the world and said, “What is going on in your school or region that is an example of creativity in theological education?”

Familiarity Breeds…
I was interested in the types of responses. Many said, “There’s nothing much happening that you could call creative in our corner but we are doing this…” and then they would go on to tell me something I thought was fantastic.

So often we come up with a creative idea and then it becomes so familiar that we don’t think it is very different or useful to share with others!

Creativity Blitz
I received an amazing response from people. Once they started to write, the ideas poured out and I was hit with an avalanche of creativity! I was so stimulated.

I have stored the question away for a time when I have to lead a group session with theological educators or if I get caught hosting a seminar and the guest speaker fails to appear! You try asking this question at such a gathering: “What is going on in your school or region that is an example of creativity in theological education?” You will be surprised at the response and the encouragement when the creative juices start flowing!

Creative Postings
I have in my email box so many creative ideas about theological education that there is no way that I will have the time to share these at the conference in Prague. Most of you will not be there so I will put them together into a paper which I will be happy to make available but I will also start posting some of these ideas and other reflections now through the pages of this web site.

I hope you will enjoy them and send me more ideas that I can post so that we might be mutually encouraged.

Pass on This Link
I hope you will agree that this is another good reason to pass the word around about TWB to your friends.

Dr. Geoff Pound