Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Post @ the Seminary's Blog: Developing Ecclesiologists

I've got a new post up at the Seminary's Blog. Here's an excerpt to wet your whistle:

One time I asked Russ Gunsalus -- one of the founding wizards of our new seminary -- how he describes himself. He said that he was an ecclesiologist. Although it was new term for me, I've come to appreciate it greatly and use it extensively. I've realized that "ecclesiologist" is not just a way of speaking about the peculiarities of Russ Gunsalus--though he certainly is peculiar! Rather, it is way of describing all of us at Wesley Seminary @ IWU, professors and students alike. We are all aspiring ecclesiologists. I've come to see that developing ecclesiologists is a core curricular aim of a seminary. The aim of this post is to develop the meaning and significance of this claim.

What does it mean to be an ecclesiologist? At first glance, it simply means an expert in ecclesiology, i.e., the study of the church. But that way of defining it implies a narrowness that couldn't be further from the truth. An ecclesiologist is one who is competent in the disciplines necessary for reflection on the practice of church leadership. One could be a church leader without also being an ecclesiologist. In fact, each student at Wesley is already at church leader. But by choosing to enroll in seminary they are implicitly asserting that there's more to ministry that just doing. They are expressing their desire to reflecton what they do--to make sense of the complexities of church practice by questioning it, developing it, expanding it and integrating it. They are stepping out in the hope that such reflection will strengthen, deepen and lengthen their ministries. They aspire to be not only effective but also reflective church leaders...

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