Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

1/15 2021

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Missional Leadership and Evangelism

The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is: “Missional Leadership and Evangelism.”

 

Scott Hagley missional evangelism

About Missional Leadership and Evangelism

During this term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about Christian mission and evangelism with Dr. Scott Hagley in the class “Missional Leadership and Evangelism.” This course is required for students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program and is open to students in the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree or Master of Theology (MTS) degree program.

This course explores biblical, theological, and historical understandings of Christian mission and evangelism with a view toward practices for leading the church to discern and participate in God’s mission within particular contexts.

During this course students will learn about biblical, theological, and historical resources which form and inform Christian mission and the missional congregation. They’ll also explore ways in which Christian mission interprets biblical, theological, and historical sources. The class will look at contemporary mission practices plus theologies and challenges in post-colonial and post-Christendom contexts. Students will have a critical and constructive engagement with practices and theologies of evangelism, practices for leading mission and missional congregations, and leading communal missional discernment in particular. A project will help students to envision concrete practices of mission in a particular context.

Assignments include leading class prayer, writing a five-page paper reflecting upon the ways in which people talk about and encounter God in their context, and a mission theology final paper. Students will read Beyond Christendom: Globalization, African Migration, and the Transformation of the West by Jehu Hanciles; Scripture and Discernment: Decision Making in the Church, by Luke Timothy Johnson; The Mystic Way of Evangelism: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach, by Elaine A. Heath; and Eat What is Set Before You: A Missiology of the Congregation in Context, by Scott Hagley.

 

About the Instructor

Dr. Scott Hagley received a B.A. in youth ministry and communication from Bethel University, an M.Div. from Regent College, and a Ph.D. (with distinction) in congregational mission and leadership from Luther Seminary. He formerly served as director of education at Forge Canada in Surrey, British Columbia, where he worked to develop curriculum for the formation of missional leaders in hubs across Canada. Dr. Hagley also served as teaching pastor at Southside Community Church, a multi-site church in the Vancouver metro area organized around neighborhood-based missional communities. He was a consultant and researcher with Church Innovations Institute and has lectured at denominational meetings and retreats on topics such as missional communities, faith, and spiritual formation. His most recent publication is Eat What Is Set Before You: A Missiology of the Congregation in Context.

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1/12 2021

Are You Called to Vocational Ministry?

Since the church was born, people of faith have expressed their unique roles in God’s kingdom using language that conveys being chosen, appointed, or called by God. Paul said that he “was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Tim. 1:11), and that he “had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised” (Gal. 2:7). But this preparation and equipping weren’t reserved for only clergy or apostles: “for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

Sometimes this language of God’s calling can be dangerous. We’re flawed, limited creatures who often err, so it’s wise to exercise caution when we speak about what God has called us to do. But even exercising caution and wisdom, some questions of calling are inescapable: What should I be doing with my time? What does God have in mind for my life? What are the good works that God has prepared for me to do?

There is no magic formula to discover our callings. Nor is there a 10-question quiz that will tell us whether or not we’re called to seminary or vocational ministry. Learning who to be, how to live, and how to best use our gifts to serve others are the works of a lifetime as we seek to walk with Jesus. But here are some thoughts from a few authors who have written on the subject. I hope these help you as you discern which path is right for your next stage of life!

 

David F. Ford is the Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He has written and edited many books, including 1997’s The Shape of Living: Spiritual Directions for Everyday Life. In its second chapter, called “Vocations and Compulsions,” Ford explores the relationship that our desires have with the choices we make in life. After explaining that education and attention will allow us to carefully and wisely decide which desires we will allow to have power over us, Ford provides this broad definition of vocation: “the long-term shaping of our lives by desires that we own.” He then provides some helpful tips for this work of life-shaping, including the need for vocational companions (e.g. a “soul friend” or spiritual director).

  • Which desires will you allow to have power in your life because they are from God?
  • In what ways might these desires shape your life and vocation?
  • Who will walk alongside you as you explore your vocational calling?

 

Mihee Kim-Kort is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister with degrees in divinity and theology. She will be presenting at the February 2021 session of PTS’s Wise Women and Spirituality series. Her most recent book is Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith. One of its chapters, called “All Work is Play,” invites us to consider what it would mean to “queer” our concept of vocation. Here Kim-Kort offers this description of vocation: “a way to grasp how we occupy space in this world—to delve into the question of what kind of work will be an expression and extension of our deepest selves.” She goes on to note that these callings will reciprocate God’s own loving activity in the world.

  • How will you occupy space in this world?
  • What kinds of work will express and extend your deepest self?
  • Which aspects of God’s loving activity will you reciprocate?

 

Parker J. Palmer is an author, educator, and activist. His work focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change. One of his short books—Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation—is required reading for PTS’s Spiritual Formation class, part of the sequence for the Master of Divinity degree program. (Palmer will also present at the Seminary’s 2021 Henderson Summer Leadership Conference May 24-25 addressing Religion and the Common Good.) The book’s thesis is simple but profound: our vocation does not come from an external voice demanding us to become something we’re not, but from an internal voice calling us to become who God created us to be. Once we have begun to discover our inner true self—often by sitting in silent reflection or searching our own past for clues—our vocation will be something we simply can’t not do.

  • When have you tried to conform yourself or your life to a demanding external voice?
  • What clues have you discovered about the true self God created you to be?
  • When you’re in touch with your inner voice and true self, what is it you can’t not do?

 

Jon Mathieu is a master of divinity student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a 2019-2020 Newbigin Fellow. While his background is in mathematics, he has been engaged in ministry in Pittsburgh for more than a decade. After years serving as a campus minister, ministry director, and writer in evangelical contexts, he is now following God into more expansive and inclusive visions for ministry. His writing appears at RELEVANT and Red Letter Christians.

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1/8 2021

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Rethinking Church

The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is: “Rethinking Church.”

About Rethinking Church

In the fall semester of 2019, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students learned about the nature of the Church with the Rev. Dr. Edwin Chr. van Driel in the class “Rethinking Church.” This course was open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theology (MTS) degree programs.

This course was premised on the notion that American Protestantism is facing a perfect storm. Growing insecurity about the place of the church in a secularized, Western society; ongoing internal conflicts and debates; and a heritage of individualism and voluntarism are tearing the fabric of denominations and local congregations. In this course, students considered contemporary ecclesiological proposals intended to help pastors and congregations imagine new possibilities for the life of the church in this context.

By the end of the course, students were able to think theologically about the church and the challenges that it faces, imagining new possibilities for the life of the church and their ministry. They not only read and analyzed theological texts on ecclesiology, but they also placed these within wider theological conversations. The learnings were both abstract and practical, linking directly to the students’ own churches, denominations, and ministry contexts.

The students’ assignments reflected the unique structure and format of the course. Each week, students submitted two discussion questions based on the assigned readings, and these questions formed the basis of the classroom dialogues. In addition, students were assigned to write two papers reflecting on the themes of the course materials. Required readings included many articles provided to the students, along with four books: N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church; Bryan Stone’s Evangelism after Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian Witness; Lauren F. Winner’s The Dangers of Christian Practice: On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin; and, finally, Stefan Paas’s Church Planting in the Christian West.

 

About the Instructor

The Rev. Dr. Edwin Chr. van Driel occupies the Directors’ Bicentennial Chair in Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Having studied at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, he went on to earn three master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Dr. Van Driel teaches mainly in Christology, ecclesiology, and the interaction between biblical studies and theology. He invests deeply in rethinking church and the church’s calling within an increasingly post-Christian world. He has written a book (Incarnation Anyway: Arguments for Supralapsarian Christology) and published articles in many academic journals and popular magazines. He recently edited What Is Jesus Doing? Divine Agency in the Life of the Church and the Work of the Pastor. Dr. Van Driel is also involved with the PC(USA)’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities and serves as an advisor to the Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative.

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