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Using Prayer in Your Teaching

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

I remember congratulating a young man on his first sermon. The topic was prayer and he did very well for his first effort. Responding to my compliment on his performance, he replied, “Thanks, but I couldn’t go wrong on this one. Who’s not going to agree that prayer is important?”

Despite his motives for choosing a safe topic to address in his first sermon, the young man was right, who doesn’t agree that prayer is important? Prayer is a given in the Christian life. It is foundational to continuing spiritual growth, including learning about the Christian life in formal educational settings.

Using prayer in the learning experience is one effective way to help your learners grow. There are more opportunities to pray in our teaching and learning than we may realize. Prayer doesn’t just happen when we bow our heads, close our eyes, and whisper a message to God. Prayer can happen all throughout the learning experience if we plan for it and incorporate it into our lesson planning. Delia Halverson in her book, 32 Ways to Become A Great Sunday School Teacher, suggests five ways to use prayer in the learning experience.
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Community Calling

See Who’s New to Columbia!

With Opening Convocation just around the corner, we thought we would take time to introduce some of the newest members of our faculty and staff. More will be written and said about them in the months to come. For now, be sure to give them a hearty welcome!

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CFC Giving

A Brief Guide to Smart Giving

By Michael Thompson, Director of Communications

If you even passively use Facebook or some other social media platform, you are likely aware of the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Originally, this started out as a fun way for folks to advertise the charity of their choice, but gained new steam this summer raising awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It hasn’t taken long for this internet phenomenon to be followed up by various commentators discussing the effectiveness of the exercise, advocating for the greater needs of other charities, and expressing plain exhaustion from watching so many videos.

While I am not one to throw “cold water” on the good intentions of others, I thought it might help to provide some guidance on charitable giving. Before working at Columbia Theological Seminary, I did communications for a number of great organizations including the Association of Philanthropic Counsel. APC is an international professional association of consultants working with various nonprofit organizations, not just to do fundraising, but building the full capacity of charities to execute their mission. Distilling all of the great advice out there down to a few points, I provide these recommendation for you when mapping out a giving plan for yourself or for your church. 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

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The Challenge of Jihadi Islam to Christians

By John Azumah, Associate Professor of World Christianity and Islam

Once again, the world is being subjected to horrific images of religious and ethnic genocide from Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria. These images make many around the world feel helpless, fearful, angry and even guilty that there seem to be very little anyone can do to stop these barbaric acts. Many talking heads parade from one television channel to the other presenting “expert analysis” of the situation. The typical Muslim/CNN response is to condemn IS and Boko Haram followed by denials that their acts have nothing to do with Islam. They are joined by many left-wing liberal western experts of Islam in this denial. Then we have the Islamophobic/FOXNEWS response which is at pains to point out that IS and Boko Haram represent the true face of Islam. These are joined by a number of right-wing evangelical Christian Islamicists. These conflicting perspectives are confusing to many ordinary people, including Christians, some of who are victims of the atrocities.

Commenting on the label “Boko Haram” (literally western education is forbidden), which has been imposed on the Nigerian terrorist group, Andrea Brigaglia of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, makes the following insightful observation: Continue reading

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