How Church Size Influences Christian Education

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

There are many factors that influence Christian education programming in congregations. Two of those factors are staff leadership and congregational size. While we may desire otherwise the fact is that congregations are highly dependent on program staff for leadership, development, and the effectiveness of educational programs. And often, educational program leaders are the last staff hired (the typical order of staff hires are: pastor, musician, part-time youth/children staff, full-time youth/children staff, then, educator). Which means that any educator who is the first full-time program staff person in a congregation likely has to deal with years of neglect in the area of church-wide educational programming.

The second factor that influences congregational education is the size of a congregation. Below are general characteristics related to how the size of a congregation affects educational programming: Continue reading

Belhar Worship Service

Montreat Conference on Belhar Confession

The Confession of Belhar is a “cry from the heart” that unity, reconciliation, and justice be practiced in Christ’s church. This confession grew out of Apartheid in South Africa. Given recent events in Ferguson, we are mindful of work that needs to be done in our own time in this country as well.

“A Cry from the Heart for Unity, Reconciliation, and Justice: From Belhar to Ferguson” is a one day conference at Montreat Conference Center on Friday, October 17. We will examine the Belhar Confession in depth through four prominent church leaders, historians, and theologians. Allan Boesak, an influential anti-Apartheid activist and a principal author of the Belhar Confession, will start by clarifying Belhar in its original historical context rooted in the opposition to Apartheid in South Africa in the 1980’s. Boesak currently serves as the Desmond Tutu chair of Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: The Order of Ministry

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Topics and themes have a cyclical life to them, coming into popular dialogue and debate and then receding into the background, as others become the “hot” issue of the day. Happily, recent years have seen the resurgence of one of the more important concepts in both theology and congregational concerns, namely, the role of the laity in the church. The Order of Ministry: Equipping the Saints , ed. by Jerry L. Sumney. Lexington, KY: Lexington Theological Seminary, 2002. 102 pages, is a collection of essays addressed to a Disciples of Christ audience on matters of long concern for that denomination: ordination and the role of the laity under the understanding of the priesthood of all believers.

Continue reading

Prof. Jeffery Tribble

Church Planting with Entrepreneurial Skill

By Dr. Jeffery L. Tribble, Sr., Associate Professor of Ministry

The mission of Columbia Theological Seminary is educating and nurturing faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the Church and the world. As a part of this mission, members of our faculty are engaged in the extraordinary challenge of helping to inculcate knowledge, habits, practices, and disciplines for persons who discern a call to plant churches.  We envision those who are effective at this as “spiritual pioneers who can plant new faith communities with entrepreneurial skill.”  The holy work of new church development, which requires human agents partnering with the Holy Spirit, is complex, exciting, and challenging. In our feeble efforts to describe this mysterious work, we have selected a constellation of complementary images and metaphors: pioneers, planters, and entrepreneurs. Each of these images is rich and meaningful; but, the most compelling of these for me is that of the “spiritual pioneer.” A pioneer is “a person that goes before, preparing the way for others, as an early settler or scientist doing exploratory work.” Continue reading

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For the Bookshelf: The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Given a choice between understanding Jesus as a first century Jew, or Jesus as a Christian, Paul F. M. Zahl, dean of the Cathedral of the Advent (Episcopal), would probably choose Jesus as the original, “first” Christian. He suggests as much in the title of this provocative short work. Zahl’s small but rich book deals with the fundamental questions surrounding the relationship of Christianity to its mother faith, Judaism, and more specifically, the relation of Jesus of Nazareth to first century Judaism.

In The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus Zahl attempts to provide a corrective to what he sees as the prevailing re-judaizing and re-culturation of the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus of Nazareth. This tendency, he believes, has been motivated by a shared Christian “Holocaust guilt” and results in a contextualized second-century historical figure that is inadequate to the realities of the unique claims of both the founder and the faith or Christianity. Continue reading

Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world!


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