Prasad Phillips - Transformative Power of Theological Education
3:23PM Mar 12, 2021
Jonathan J. Armstrong
I'm so grateful for your time and your willingness to gather together as those involved in Christian education and those specifically, who aspire to bring education by extension to new communities.Today,the presentation will be from Prasad Phillips, who is the distance learning coordinator and tutor at the Oxford Centre for religion and public life. We're extremely grateful for prisa that he would be willing to speak with us and present on his work. He's going to be giving a presentation regarding First of all, how theological education, theological knowledge can strengthen Christian discipleship and transform individuals and communities. And then secondly, about the role of theological education by extension in this process, there'll be time for us to discuss a few points, probably we won't get to discuss all the things we want, but we will try to have a disciplined and focused conversation following the presentation, all of the presentation is being recorded and will be transcripted and disseminated to you all and then also through a website. She's, uh, she's Chris ball. We're so grateful that you're with us as well. Would you be willing to open us in a word of prayer before we move to the presentation?
Thank you, gentlemen. Yeah. This gracious, loving father. We thank you, thank you for the greatest gift you are given us. You are son of a Lord and Master Jesus Christ in your gayness your Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. So Triune God tonight, this morning, this afternoon, as we come across the world, to think together, how disseminating your word, through helping people to understand and learn your word that we can make disciples, we thank you for the greatest calling you have given us in many across the world, to make disciples by teaching to obey all that you have commanded. And to endorse people immerse people in the trans. Tonight, as Dr. fad presence, nears, we all think together, help us to enlarge our vision, particularly for those who are at the grassroots, the downtrodden, the marginalize, that even they will have an opportunity to be rooted and grounded in your work. Thank you for Dr. Jonathan Armstrong and those who are organizing for Derek and others. Lord, may this be a time guiding us through your spirit, to enlarge your vision, and to multiply what you have entrusted to us, your resources and your work. in Christ's name we pray. Amen.
Amen. We're so grateful for your time and attention. Dr. persad, the podium is yours. The chat feature is open. So if there's if there's discussion that needs to be taking place during chat, either publicly or individually, that's also available. Dr. persad, we're
all yours. Thank you.
Thank you so very much. First of all, Jonathan, and also all the panelists who have come forward to be part of this journey, I would say it's a learning for me, and it's a learning for many of us, especially the pandemic has made it even more challenging. And how do we really make the theological education really rooted to the people where for whom it has to go, let me share my screen to start with. And the idea is that I will have about 20 minutes, 25 minutes of presentation and I please feel free if you want to have any clarification. Because of several of you who are eminent scholars and practitioners and involved in theological education, I would want you to be part of this discussion as well. So it's a journey. As I said, I'm not an expert, but something which I've learned a lot and just giving, giving me a background, I was a missionary trainer, the beginning for about five years at the grassroot level, and then went on to be serving with taffy for about eight years, by education by theological education by extension, and our present trying to develop a pedagogy or a program which is more at the grassroot level, but also intersecting at at various levels of theological education masters as well as PhD. So to start with, I did ask this the whole topic of transformative power of theological education. When I posed this question, this this theme, one of the things that came up, he said, why you need a power that a transformative power for theological education? Is it not that? Is it not that it actually should be doing it? And the other question, which comes is Why not? Because many of us have been in this entire learning that theological education institution, and is it be doing the job that's supposed to be doing is doing its purpose, its fulfilling its purposes, was a question that I, I want to unwrap this afternoon.
To begin with, I'm just going to just present a few broader ideas, or the full idea of philosophy of transformation through theological education. What is the philosophy, I want to certainly acknowledge two of the writers here, one is haka, she's from Australia, that interacts with the global context kesley, Kelsey is another person. According to them, there are three different models under which we find theological education placed. And I'm presenting the fourth one, which is perhaps needed, especially me coming from the from, from the global south, the first model, which is quite often seen as the Athenian model or the classical Greek model, which actually focused on development of character wisdom, and to do public good. So, the idea here is that we need the transformation needs to be very personal or focusing on power, perhaps to some extent, spiritual, if you want to bring in the contemporary context. The next model, which is I see is the Berlin model very often placed within the Enlightenment period, where the focus has been given to reason. Rather, we see universities formed it is more institutional form of an institutional model. And unfortunately, in the contemporary context, in the West, we see the clash between the secular with the with the religion, also. So there is this whole drive of what you call us intellectual and professional development, seen in this kind of model. Then Aha, courage brings another dimension, which according to her is called Jerusalem model, which is more to be more missional. Rather, that the need to connect between what you study and what you practice. And I remember, a simple anecdote, one of my classmates, when we were just about to graduate our seminary, they said, We are taught to be excellent a pilot for a fighter combat. But unfortunately, we are not taught how to land this excellent big compact plane in the place where it's supposed to be landing. So there is this whole clash between what you study and practice. And I will certainly expand a little bit more on the whole idea of what he called us, a ra, which is action, reflection action, which perhaps is a new phenomena which has been developed in the south. So the focus here is more towards ministry. Then the final philosophy that I see is the whole area of contextualization, where as Christians or theological education, as such, has to be both local and global. It has to represent the local context, if it is from Africa, or if it's from Asia or Latin America. But also theological education should just not be confined to the church, but also to support a person who's doing studies and theology should engage in public space. So which is what I'm trying to say it should be developing a contextual relevance of not only theological education, but graduates from the seminaries, or perhaps even at the grassroot level, how they make the difference. So this is the big picture that I want to give, I'm going to give another area. This is an area which I've been grappling with. It's a personal struggle. I've seen in the recent past, theological education has developed and has developed into a major, major program and institution as an institution. But there is also a challenge, because many of us just focus on one as one aspects or one particular side of the entire method involved in theological education. And I see four different methodology or methods. One is the whole content Center, which is they would like to I want to go back to what Professor Andrew Wallace says that many of the contemporary theological institutions focuses only on producing PhD graduates, which is, which is perhaps not required. Which is the which is the which is not the right way it has to be something else it has to bring life. So, it is more towards teacher and Professor focused or it is focused towards department or specialization. So, the whole idea is should it be integrated, the content needs to be integrated, because at the end, the students all education needs to really transform
not just the person, but also the place and the program in which the person is involved. The second area which I see is the most of us are concentrate on the method center, it could be some of them are so stuck with classrooms and lectures. For some it could be distance learning, for some it could be theological education by extension. Or for some it could be just online, or hybrid. So, many of much of our focus is just on these, or perhaps on the other one. Another area, which I've seen is also what is emerging is called learner centered method, which is, we should focus on discipleship, we should focus on ministry, or we want clergies, we want missionaries, we want evangelists to be trained. So there's more focused on that. And the final is more of context centered, I just want to bring the context because it's very important. Most of us are from various contexts. And I think it's important that our program or theological education should really be relevant to its own context. Because of geography, geographic geography, because of religious connections, political language plays a major role, most of the grassroot level training happens in line in their own traditional in their own indigenous languages, probably English is not the only method that needs to be used. Certainly the challenge of denomination and now with the COVID-19, the whole new discussion that has emerged is the digital divide people who have access to internet or technology or those who do not have. So these are the challenges that are there, but transformation needs to happen. So my question here is, do we have to stand? Do we have to concentrate on one? Or do we have to integrate all of these into our theological education to make it more transformational? Now, what is the purpose and goal of theological education, this is what I bring from my own, we are developing a basic program, which is called a Bachelor of ministry. And our focus is that theological education is just not focused on bringing professionals, but it is to bring transformation for life, life is personal, but also in the place the person is living or existing. What can have what is the purpose of another word which can be used is formation or transformation. So the focus has always been no question. Academic formation is one which is knowledge based. Second, it is more of ministerial, which is focusing on trying to help with the needs of the church. The third aspect is character, which is equally very important theological education, if it needs to transform your life, it has to bring change a character of a character, which is more like Christ, like it should be a personal transformation. And the last two concepts is very important, because what transformation that also needs to link is with the local, which is communion. Most of our learning is not individualistic, it's not focused to an individual or to an institution, but also relates to the two, it needs to be related to the local I want to add why I say, communal, and the rest. The next one is public. Is this whole area? How many of our students who are going through theological education have had some form of engagement in the public? Have we equipped them to be a what we call a salt in the marketplace? Or are they well equipped to do only probably for the Church of the organization that they are serving, but how better can it be that they can be people who would be agents in the public? So this is what I see the transformation needs to be focusing on the challenges how we do it, the methods as I mentioned to you before, sometimes can enhance but can also it can be, it can deter from coming to this realization. Finally, and I see this as a missing component in many of our theological education. If transformative education transform, a transformation is our focus. But why is that not happening? the transformative power in theological education has not really taken part because I see is because This,
most often students who come and I want to bring in the experience of tea, theological education by extension, the students who come here, and I've been part of both an institutional form of seminary learning, and also been engaged in theological education by extension. And what I have seen is that there's a huge difference, the students who come in and institutional form comes, they have to earn a professional degree. And unfortunately, during that entire process, the prior learning of the student has not taken into account. Whereas in the tea I've seen, I might be biased, and I stand corrected, is that we would want to engage with the experience of the person of the of the learner, I would not even say, student, I would say that a learner who comes into the program, in both have experiences and also the practices that they have had. So he does not come as an empty slate, but rather content prior experience. And that is an important component which needs to be engaged in any theological education. But then what happens, he has certain things with him, or she has certain things with her. And when the student comes into a learning context, or theological education, then we see the next thing happening, it is a process of theological education, empowers or engages the student with a kind of reflection. And I see this the first form of transformation happening here. So what you learn, is engaging with your prior learning, which could be in the form of action, and, or experiences. And then the student once he or she goes through this kind of reflection process. Then again, there is a process of transformation action. And I want to tell you, with an actual anecdote, and I knew I know of a student who, who was an excellent elder in the church, and this person did a course, of course, called understanding the Bible today, which was a course taught in tufting. And he was so, so impressed. And he said that this learn, this is what I've learned, I need to transfer the skills and knowledge to someone else. And after the course was over, just mind you the courses for about three months, the fourth month, dispersed this learners student, converted the entire course, into PowerPoint slides and started teaching to his church members, youth, as well as the elders. Now, this was the learning and he said, what I have learned now has transformed me, and I need to transform my own church and my community. And that's what happens. This is possible in a tea and practices what is happening in, and recently that in most of the institutional form of, of seminary learning where students are sent for internship, or sent for weekend ministries, it is a possibility. But I think this is where we need to empower our theological education for them to not only to reflect but also to transform themselves and transform the ministry, where they are connected with. Finally, theological education is for whom is it? What is the scope of theological education? And I think I've been struggling, and I'm grappling with this. Is it only for the elite? Or is it only for the privileged? Or is it for everyone? And I think that's the challenge that we all have, very often, unfortunately, theological education is mostly dealt for the whole area of to professionalization to professionals, to be a missionary, to be an evangelist to be a theological teacher. So that is where it is always aimed at. But I think that's a small, small number, then the whole call, then the question comes, where else can we go? I think another big challenges, should it be church focused? Because if church becomes the primary place, where students are the learner is based when it has to be church focused? Or is it to be church based? Should we remove those institutions? Because the all should be replaced? Or should we complement them? See, should we have multiple ways of learning? Should we just people come to the seminaries? Or should we take the seminaries to the churches is that what we need to be engaging with? Another place is, is the theological education is for the community, and I mean community, just not Christian community. It could be the local community itself. And finally, I want to ask a question, can theological education
be an agent of transformation. For all. It's a theology for all. It's not only for few people. That's the big ideas I want to give. I want to come back to tea. Now, having dealt with tea for some time, these are some of the questions we've been asked. And I'm going to post those questions, and many of you would say, yes, but my, my, my, my request is to see how we could move further from these presuppositions these questions that has been posed, very often, T or S is not considered, they always says it is said that residential education is seen as a standard for excellence in theological education. I think most of us have had some form of residential education. I don't know how many of us have gone through theological education by extension as such. But I think this is an important place that we should ask that can there be an ultimate way of providing theological education for all, not just residential for another. Another assumption that has come is what we call is of formation learning can then can and does occur in a traditional or on campus or residential learning context. It cannot happen beyond the seminary. This is a reality check that we need to be asking. It's I don't know whether it's a concept assumption or the reality. But I've seen in through tea, I've seen that formations have happened. I know certainly have a student who said, they may not be the normal factor. But the students said that I have done my back basic training through education backed by T, that is my bachelor's, master's, and my higher degree by T. But not only that, I have also believed that my children should do homeschooling. It's a very different way of doing it. And not only that, he also believed he was so radical, he said, I believe not an institutional churches, but house churches. And this person was able to look into all these different ways. So that's giving us an opportunity to say that can we look beyond a can we think out of the box to do the ministry, or to make our theological education more transformative? There is also a misconception say that, that tea or distance learning depersonalized are commodifies learning, which is unfortunate a which is say that there is no person this is mostly a very, very, I can understand the challenges that it poses, especially if you have distance learning, where there's no mentoring happening. It could be true it and it is true to some extent, but I don't know whether it is 100% true. Another fear is that distance education or tea may result in isolation or greater individualism. And that is another presupposition that is always put, but I think people within tea would not agree with it. They say that group learning and also peer group learning, enables and qualifies, and perhaps debunks most of these presuppositions and it rather it's more healthier way of learning together. There is also a presupposition that that distance learning or tea is educationally inferior to on campus education, and I think, and, and it results in dumping down of, or dumbing down of students. It is a reality. And I think nobody will disagree with it. That's how it has been portrayed. But we need to ask, Can we move beyond that
of the activating bodies, or the thinking and making it a very different to what has been actually portrayed? Finally, there is a kind of a presupposition saying that the distance learning or T learning is disembodied, but it is not really engaging. Now, these could be repeated suppositions that we have had, but I think I want to pose one relevant question, which perhaps is more important now because of the pandemic race because of COVID-19. I'm sure most of us have gone online. We were not requested. We weren't. We are demanded to go online. And many of us are thinking, how are we going to do it? So how do we do online theological education is another question which I thought is important to be addressed. And I just want to add few ideas over here and then leave it to others. Now COVID-19 has compelled us to go online and visit To, I don't know, it will continue for a few months or years. But this is a reality that we are living in. And we have to accept. majority of us, most of us, who are theological teachers are digital migrants. Very soon a new generation will come in who are absolutely digital natives. If that is the case, we have to make a move as quickly as possible. The reason is, I say future students will be generated that is Generation Z, or generation alpha, what digital residents, the other the other 21st century generation. I'm not saying that we will, I've heard many of young people, they still love the books, they would like to go back to the books. But it's going to be a place where it's going to be a challenge of having both the online and Institute institutional form of theological education delivered. Now, one of the challenges many of these Generation Z and generation alphas are they are very, these are people who are digitally well informed. And I might inform I have a teenage son, who spends most of his time on on this phone. He's very well informed. He knows perhaps more than perhaps I know, but the question is, does he? Or does she most of these students? Do they know how to say which is right, which is wrong? And how to equip them and empower them in their own spirit and in their own space? In that way, how are we going to make our theological education transformative, especially to the new generation, I believe, theological education can be transformative, and it's for all, it just not for professional degrees, but it is more towards formation and learning for life. That's the overall picture that I have wanted to portray. And I need to tell you that this is something which is true. Institutional training is expensive. I know many, many, I'm talking from the BFX point of view of many, many institutions have come right across from the global south asking for funding. And it is a reality. This COVID-19 situation will test many institutions to say how are they going to cope up rather tomorrow, we're going to have a conference for leaders in Africa, a theological institution for Africa where more than 140 institutional leaders are coming. And they have come out with this important topic after we had a workshop is to say how, as institutions we could meet in 3d are three of these areas. One is the whole area of collaboration, because it is expensive. We don't want to reinvent the wheel, how do we share and collaborate together? The second area that they have thinking is, how are we going to make our theological education sustainable?
Because we have to think differently. And fourthly, is to train how do we train our educators, both in the in technology, as well as in pedagogical skills? So that's the question that I have. And I think we need to consider these things as we move forward. Especially, we know that theological education has the transformative power. But it is left to us how we make the difference. I'm more of a practical theologian and missiologists. I don't engage philosophy and concepts, and more in that area where I would want to see how practically we can make a difference. So that's my presentation. So these are some of the questions that I would want to place before. And I want to hand it over to Jonathan and to the panelists, or no, I want to give enough time for us to think and discuss over to you, Jonathan. Thank you.
We're so grateful to your preset for that very careful and very thought provoking presentation. Thank you so much for that. Again, for those of you who've joined us, mid presentation preceded Phillips, Dr. Phillips is the distance learning coordinator and tutor at Oxford center for religion and public life. Thank you so much for that. You can express your appreciation by the reactions tab down at the bottom, you can put up a thumbs up or there's some other options there. Unfortunately, applause by zoom doesn't work. But we are applauding, you preside. We're very grateful for your contributions. I request to those panelists, if you can, please go ahead and turn on your camera that'll just help us all understand who's present and be able to interact with you in a fuller manner. So if you have the bandwidth and can turn on your cameras, please feel free to do that. transition to the panel discussion, perhaps There are a few questions first concerning clarification or questions to follow up. So if there's any, any clarification that needs to be taking place from the presentation, let's go to those questions first. And then once we've settled any clarification questions, let's move to those more practical concerns about problem solving and even potential partnerships. First, are there clarification questions for Dr. persad? Dr. Phillips? Please just go ahead and speak your questions directly to us. Everybody, feel free to speak. Justin, you look like you've got a question for us.
Is that correct? Yeah.
Thank you, doctor, I'm sorry that I was I just returned from my office after the office hours. And so I missed the first part of the presentation. But however, the second part, I was able to follow up and really dive into bringing up this particular and crucial issue for discussion at this time, actually, you know, like, the COVID-19, has really, you know, influenced us through social distancing. But similarly, I feel, you know, the danger here as well as in, in online education, the social distancing is also going to happen. So how do we tackle this particular issue not being so rather, I would say that an integral approach, neither complete classroom, theological education, not a complete online theological education, whether we can bring an integral approach to bring these two things together, and then conduct I don't want to just lag behind by leaving aside the online or the modern way of education, but the same time being present with the community how we can integrate these two things together in this unintelligible
Thank you, Dr. Justin, I know you representing serampore itself is struggling to how do we blend these two both together? And I think an answer to that question is not an easy one. But I think most of us who are involved in theological education have gone forward to say the blended form of learning is one of the best ways to move forward where you would have both an online on Face to Face Face to face could happen in a group with distance to social distancing. But thanks to zoom, and many other similar software's which helps us to come together and share and learn together. So to answer your question, I certainly believe that pure online might not really fit in, especially in theological education. But I know that some of them are able to do it, but the best way to move forward as a blended learning. Thank you.
Other questions or clarifications, please?
Jonathan, there are some on the chat. Should I just take up on those questions or wait?
I was noting that too. There's maybe about six comments concerning theological education by extension, either some endorsements of the method or some clarifications regarding how it was portrayed. Those of you authors of the comments, please go ahead and speak those questions directly to Dr. Phillips. persad,
thank you for your presentation. I think you're grappling with important issues. And obviously, there's not enough time to deal with all the subject that you tried to cover, in the short time that that we we had from you, I think some very important questions you raised. I think, for me the question about transformation, and theological education. And this isn't just about tea. But the question, ultimately, for us, as theological educators is, is partly to do with the question of what is theology and to my mind, theology is ultimately as Christians to do with is a spiritual discipline. And it's partly to do with with engaging people with with the Triune God. And my experience, I just put that up there, my experience of tea is, primarily people want to grow in their face. And I think we have to start where they're at. And I think from my experience, around the world, in different places, is that tea students come wanting to grow in their faith, and we have to nurture them in their faith. And as we nurture them in the faith, we, we build in these different aspects that you were talking about. But to my mind, the transformation is actually a theological thing that that God is involved in. And that actually is, is as we seek to engage with God, His Word, and the the
Christianity has learned in history. What we're trying to do is to say, actually, you can grow in your faith and in your ability then to be a disciple of Jesus. And then as a disciple of Jesus, I think, as we started off, you know, we have that great Ministry of being called to enable people to become disciples, and then disciple makers. And I think that's our first focus. And it needs to continue to be our focus, because if we focus too much on the methodologies that you mentioned, is that sometimes we can get caught up in a method or philosophy, and fail to recognize the spiritual nature of theological education. And I think that's where, to me, there's an advantage of theological education by extension at the moment, because most people volunteer to join, they want to join, they're not forced by anyone. They're not seeking a qualification for a job, they just come wanting to grow in faith. And that means that we've actually got a great position to start with people in tea, were often in a theological college, someone's coming in order to become a missionary, or in order to become a pastor. So I think that's, that's really all happened to say.
Thank you for your comment, Dr. Ball, I think you brought a very important issue is most students and I know, when they come to, to engage with theological education, the first thing that they want is to, they would like to increase in their faith, knowledge of the Bible, and perhaps be a better person at the end of the course. And I, I keep telling this, my wife is a medical doctor. So I keep telling I, she knows the Bible, and I know about the Bible, seminary person who's come out of it, he knows more about the Bible, rather than the content of the Bible. So there is this whole challenge, and how do we bring this together? Thank you, thank you for the insight. And the answers may not be with me. But I think if you have some of those, as panelists, please share your thoughts as well.
And I wanted to make an observation if I could around something that Paul said, which is that it looks to my eye like theological education has come to be construed as preparation for preparation for a job in much the same way that all higher education has, has become viewed as professional preparation that occurs to me that, that we begin our theological education when we hear Jesus is Lord. And unfortunately, for for many believers, maybe most believers, that's the end, maybe that maybe they get some additional education around what churches for and the basic kinds of transformations that they that they need to make in their life. But if we construed theology as a theological education as merely being for professional preparation, then we Maroon The, the ordinary believers in in sort of this shallow water of, of ignorance around the full, glorious message that the Bible contains instead of as, as Dr. Phillips is saying, seeing, seeing theological education as being a matter of life transformation. So there's a mindset change, I think that we need to have.
Like you, Kayla, Dr. Chris Paul, I think you were gonna make a comment as well.
Yes, two comments following Dr. Camera. First of all, the whole point, I think, is rightly said that we, at least in seminaries, wanted to train professionals and evangelical theological education primarily came at a time when there was total rejection of missions. Pain, if you look at the history, particularly I'm thinking of India, but if you look at 60s 70s 80s and 90s, you find students were coming to go back either into mystery or a mission field. This later it has changed to become an academia. And part of our problem has been that, as Dr. Keller said, the professional but deeply theological education trained professional, see, we are embedded in humanities, in academia, we are not embedded in professional degrees. And that was the biggest lack of theological education that we were only interested in what you rightly said, is, I would say, the knowledge, but knowledge without wisdom, I think today, the need is wisdom. The second point, I want to really make That we hear, because of COVID-19. There has been surge of bad lawyers and conferences and etc, on online. And I'm not disparaging. But my point is this, that they are missing out a large number of populations in the majority world who do not have access to either a smartphone or a computer, they need to keep in mind that test online education will help certain groups of people. But there is other side and that's why I fully agree with David bow, that we need to keep in mind that this is for spiritual and therefore, in my thinking, and some writings, what I have emphasized is that it is really looking at theology, not as Theo's logos, but rather look at theology as tears, you know, give it is leading of God, it is experiencing God in order to praise and worship him and bring others in, keep in mind, the merging Church of new believers who do not know anything in the sense of the Bible, and the need to keep that in mind and not forget, thank you.
Thank you so much,
Um, one of the things we found when we were in Mexico was the fact we had actually been brought into Mexico to move our seminary from one city to the next to continue just basic residential program. But as we spoke to our people, the boots on the ground, folks, we realized that what was being needed was not so much another residential program, bringing people into a seminary, but for us to go out to where people were. And we found that instead of investing in, in brick and mortar buildings, the investment and I think this worked for Elizabeth, also in Colombia, when we started working more and more with online stuff at that, even before COVID-19 formed a very strong base for us. But what we also found was that just as one of the speakers just mentioned, Dr. Chris Paul, I think we needed to make that move from just being educators of those professionals, we found that those who wanted to continue in teaching, being on campus was a good option, but those who want to become practitioners, they wanted to be out in the field, and not spend three or four years in a residential program. So instead of just moving our seminary to another city, we found out that it was better for us to develop online education, but also concentrate on on replicating what we were doing in one city, in a number of different cities. And we found out that it, it actually became quite lucrative for us. And it was even better for us to have ourselves in different cities than to bring students to where we were. When we consider transformative education, especially with discipleship. discipleship is about making people, disciples to follow Christ to become Christ themselves to them duplicate his efforts through them. And we found that going where they were like, imagine a person in their language, in that context, in that culture was very much it was a lot more effective than bringing them out from where they were, to where we are. So thank you very much.
Thank you. I think these are important insights are really except
Dr. Tim green, thanks so much for joining us. Go
Just building on what Chris has rightly said, I like Chris, the emphasis that you've just talked about, of moving away from, you know, buildings, out to where people are, there is a danger if we simply think that extension means taking content and delivering it in a new way, whether online or by, you know, satellite classes, evening classes, or whatever it is that's maybe close to where people live and work. That's certainly helpful. But I think we need to go a stage further, which is actually to look at the learning process itself. And come last of all the content. You know, we ask the question, who is being equipped for what you know, who is about the people of God? And thank you, Dr. Broussard for the emphasis on theological education for all you know, I really echo that. So who has been trained for what a You know, what's the purpose? what's the what's the end goal? And ensuring more than knowledge exhibition? So it's about transformation. And then we asked the how questions, how does transformative learning happen. And let's emphasize this is not just with individuals, and teams not actually, in my opinion, distance learning at all. It's nothing to do with isolated learning. It's about local group learning of groups that are being learning together and doing group reflection on D, local, contextual theology, if you like, together, relating truth to life, and then seeking to live it out, and then reflecting on what they've been trying to do in a constant cycle, through the year integrated with their normal lives, and daily, you know, communities and commitments. So, if transformation means anything is going to be worked out in that context. So then we ask, you know, how, what are the processes by which that happen. And then last of all, we come to content, but by that stage, it will be content that is relevant, and focused and integrated in a way that isn't just dumping it in a banking, education, way of doing it. So I think there's a lot of biblical thinking, and there's a lot of adult learning that goes into how it functions when it when it functions well. But I would emphasize that it's more than just taking content out from the seminary and delivering it online or through satellite centers.
Thank you so much, Tim. Let's hear from Marvin oxen, ham, Dr. oxen, ham, then let's allow Dr. persad to respond as well. And then we may be ready to transition to from clarifications and questions towards questions about what we can do for partnership and to to bring into action, these ideas. There's not perfect agreement in ministry philosophy, but by and large, there's a there's a central thrust here. And it's really extraordinary that we have 40 Christian leaders from different organizations together, let's give some time to before we close towards concrete ideas on how we could move towards partnership. Dr. oxenham.
Thank you, Jonathan. Thank you presiding as well, greetings, Rome, Italy. So I just might like to raise a couple of points on the on the back of the presentation. One is just to I think, express caution, about our taxonomies of theological education. And sometimes we can create false dichotomies as if residential education meant only one thing, and tea is another an online is another, the reality is much more organic, and blended. And it's much more of a complex matrix that has to do with delivery and graduate profiles and all sorts of things. So I think and this is scholars in the field, we need to be careful, we're not reinforcing terminology and false dichotomy. Obviously, it has historical reasons, we understand what we're talking about. But you know, to realize, I mean, there's very few schools that I think are purely residential. And so hybrid is probably pretty much what everybody is doing in different shapes and forms. The second observation was about the point of theology for all now, and, you know, sort of the professionalization. Now I'm not sure that we do want theology for all but do we want the ology for all in the same way? I think there is a distinction that we even find in the New Testament, Jesus didn't teach everybody the same. He selected concentric groups and train them. And his his mission strategy was a multiplier effect. And I think behind the notion of professionalization, which may have become a bad thing in many cases, but was the idea to to train leaders and pastors that would then multiply themselves in the local church. And I think the idea of theological education going now into the local church to the grassroots training, in a sense, could be a testimony to the failure of church leadership, or our failure as theological educators that we've not trained church leaders to multiply in a certain way. And so now churches have had no teaching no discipleship programs, and theological education needs to step up to the plate, whereas maybe it should be one step removed, training the leaders to do that. So I know that's a controversial statement, but I just wanted to throw that in there.
Thank you so much, Dr. percent.
Thank you so much. I think some of you have shared from your own experience. And I, I think you're right in certain extent, saying that we cannot. It's an organic evolution of what's happening, especially in the form in theological education. But the biggest challenge is you yourself answer to your question why there is a requirement for grassroot level training has emerged is because the failure of certain institutions have not delivered what perhaps the churches need at the end. So it has gone and produced certain, certain professionals. And I have to tell you, I remember a bishop who, too, with whom you want to do some kind of a training, and he said, a priest had to train for my Urban churches, I send my seminary, I send people to certain seminaries in the urban cities. But if I really want people to work as evangelists and missionaries, I have my own training school here, which means that it is not really the majority of the administration's not meeting their needs. But also gives us another challenge that we there are multiple ways of engaging and and there is a school for, of doing theological education. And you're right, you said that we cannot when, right when I mean theology for all, it is the accessibility of theological education to all. But it also depends, the requirement might be very different to each of the contexts. So yes, there is a difference over there. We need to make the political education accessible an item, I like that word, it should be affordable, what Taft used to say, it needs to be affordable, it needs to be accredited, it needs to be applied. And it needs to be also what is the third MP applied accredited and affordable, it needs to be affordable for people in most of the contexts. Thank you. I think that's the response. And I think many of you have contributed to the conversation that I've had over to you, Jonathan.
Outstanding. I want to be respectful of everybody's time, we'll we'll stop at about 10 minutes after the hour. So we have about 15 minutes to burst towards the end. If there are further questions or clarifications that need to be made, feel free to put them directly into the chat, because that will also be part of the transcript. So those will be noted, continue to put clarification questions in the chat. Let's transition to ask questions about how we can bring this into action. What can we do? And Bill, I saw your hand up? Do you? Are you ready to address that?
I just wanted to make a supplementary comment. A lot of this is on information and knowledge and how do we transfer it. But I think there's another thing to change attitudes and values and lifestyle. It's the impact of life on life. And it's what we model. And to me wonderful verse is the Word became flesh and live among us. And we saw, full of grace and truth. And Jesus spent three years daily with his disciples, some of his action reflection, some of them observing him. That's his life on life. And I visited theological colleges, they might be teaching orthodox stuff for reconciliation in the Gospel. But the staff room is Riven with divisions, and tension and lack of reconciliation. And this thing called the hidden curriculum is settled attitudes towards different groups, different tribes, different languages, gender, and all that stuff. And in this postmodern age, people believe what they see, I think we're sick and tired, or too much talk. It's life upon life. Thank you.
Thank you so much. And Tim is ready to speak as well. Yes, well,
got to join them very much for arranging this. This forum. I'm excited to see a resurgence of interest in tea and various forms of church based theological education, alternative approaches, and it's an exciting time I think in in the world of theological education when new questions are being asked. I'm serving the increased Association, which is a network of indigenous tea movements across the whole of Asia, serving about 100,000 students at a time. And indeed, several of the leaders in their respective countries of T movements are here today like our wireless and Dr. David, Samuel, and thank you so baby, and so on. So in increase we've done a lot in recent years. Firstly, in looking at what's involved in T for 21st century and learning from each other. And secondly, in trying to communicate some of that with the wider world of our theological educators. So I just asked permission from from Jonathan to mention this book t in Asia, empowering churches, equipping disciples, because this is something that preserves Got it? Well, this is something where we've sought to describe what's happening, but also to look ahead and areas of innovation in tea today. And several of the areas that have been touched on in today's discussion, have a chapter each in this book. So you may be interested, some timing in getting that and if you are, we'll try and get you a copy.
with we're also now in increase, doing another book, which is taking a more academic and self critical, reflective look at the tea movement today. And that's a multi authored book to be published through Langham and I sit next year, on tea for the 21st century. So this is an exciting time where we can collaborate together, and I think collaboration, blended hybrid. These are the words to be using today. flipped classroom theological education for all learning pathways that allow people to be equipped at the level that's appropriate for them, but also open up opportunities to go to higher levels were needed. So it's an exciting time. That's really what I want to try and say, and I'm so glad that we're able to have these discussions. Thank you.
I just want to make one really quick comment, which is that the the cooperation that you're that you're talking about, I think, is crucial. I think a lot of us have sort of been on our own islands, doing our own things, which it's good to pursue the ministry opportunities that we have, but I don't have all you know, I none of us can have all the answers. And I think you're right to say that it's an exciting time to see people's vision begin to converge on the need for the development of leaders, the need for accessibility, affordability, adaptability. I mean, this is This, to me is really, really encouraging not merely as a theological educator, but just as a believer in a leader in the church. And so I'm personally just looking forward to going into the future, hopefully with you guys. And partnering more closely, I hope.
Jonathan, can I just say a few things? Yes. Thank you. I mean, it let me share the story of what of the Center for religion, public life and global institute for leadership development. It's been engaging. The last two months, we saw there was a huge need. And hence, what we did was a kind of an online workshop, by the way, it's an online workshop, we never thought it could be possible. But we tried it. And first we there was a request made by ceramill. University, where about 300 plus theological educators came forward. And they engaged and they saw Yes, how it is possible for us to move forward, but also the thing out of the box at this particular moment. Similarly, we did something with Africa we're going to do this month and for Asia to bring all theological educators and institutions together. And one of the things that is coming is collaboration, as you rightly said, sharing best practices and experiences really helps for us to grow together in the kingdom of God and think that's something beautiful that has come up now. Second. Dr. Bell, you said something very important. Yes, I come from a tradition where we call Guru shishya, which means the follower follows the the guru. And it is, it is not an investment concept. And I've seen that many of the faculty You said you, you learn from my subject, but don't learn from me, because I have a different standard of life. But that's not doesn't happen in the Indian context, literally. Follow the guru the follow the follow Christ. And hence, OCR PL has started something called shepherds Academy based on the life of Christ, as Christ as a shepherd, what does he want? It's something similar. We have always followed Paul's principles, but something to do with as Jesus the shepherd, what that What did he want? And what does he want his sheeps to know and as a shepherd, as a pastor, what is important? So that's the elaborate engagement we are involved in. We'll be very happy if you would come forward to be part of this moment. We are there. And I can I can. I've sent my presentations, please be in touch. We will be more than happy to collaborate with you.
Thank you, Jonathan.
Please go ahead.
Yes, that the need is huge. How do we begin to meet that with the representative institutions, please? ahead, anybody.
glad to say I'm also connected with increase network. And I think one of the things through things like I see, through a TA through increase, there are opportunities for us to, to actually collaborate across different organizations and different different groups and to learn from each other. One of the exciting things that we're doing with the increase association is looking at how we can share courses that people have written in different contexts, and see how those can be shared. So courses for example, on on persecution, and courses on youth and things that take a lot of time and investment in how different organizations can learn to share that. And it does involve time and effort building relationships with one another and trust with one another. And I think being willing to ensure that we build trust with one another rather than undermining each other, we may have different approaches different emphases, but actually trying to work out how we can build. One of the things that we've discovered there is actually the process of, of entering into agreements with each other, so that we know what what the parameters of our agreements are. So part of the processes is to build up is to build the relationship, but part of it then is to say, Well, what are the parameters of our relationships?
And you have a minute for me. And I'm a practitioner, therefore, may I share one minute, my passion is to raise some 100,000, Christ like leaders, transformative leaders of all three levels of leadership right out in India, we have a seminary at the center of India, and raising of the parishioners with the practical experience. Then we have every state except to Missouri, we have a Bible College, and they study that weekend, they are working in the religious, all that. And then we have CBT called the church of base theological training, we take the Bible school into the villages, because I found out these religious people are so wonderful, they are on Campbell, they sit on the floor of a faithfully worship, but they are not really matured in the leadership, they're not multiplied. When you ask if you think about the Bible Belt on SWAT. That's the reason we took us and in the Bible College, to the villagers, so we digital subjects in a year, and along with practical responsibilities. So and this is the way we are doing that three level, the blended system. And so I like to bond with many of you. It's a great episode. Thank you. Wonderful. I really appreciate connecting with you today.
We have time for maybe two more comments, before we close.
I'd like to say that as someone who has been an advocate and interested in technology, integration, that I always thought that maybe it was going to happen at a glacial speed. But since COVID has hit it may be more like a tsunami speed. And we're entering into a time that with or without a pandemic, the morphological points of difference between all these different terms distance learning present, residential learning tea are going to be erased because they're going to there's going to be a progressive integration of technology, which is which is going to produce two things that that I think, has potential enormous power for the church globally. And I go back to NAS beds megatrends, Book of the 80s, where it's a blend of high tech and high touch. And the High Tech High Tech tech is if somehow there could be a john 17 moment in the church where we could leverage the enormous power of the church globally, through technology that can be accessible by all combined with the high touch part of life on life. That would be a combination, I think that would have enormous benefit for the kingdom. And we are working on that level in Latin America, as some of us have come together to talk about where are the ways we can leverage what we can do technologically quickly and share resources through the decentralization of some of what we've been developed, called promacta, which started as a totally online, but moving towards blended learning. But we have traimit, we have a tremendous potential in front of us if we could just take it.
back, I say something very quickly. Oh, I'm Michael Herbert. I'm the Dean of New York school Bible in New York City. And one thing we've discovered is that there's a very interesting dilemma that we have is we look at America, and we said, America is a technological country, a technological giant, right. But this pandemic has taught us that we have a large segment of society that does not have a computer does not have internet connection, does not have more than one, even if they have a computer, the computer is older, and it doesn't necessarily have a rd audio and, and, and audio and video. So capabilities. So it's very interesting, we we've taken all of our classes online, we were planning to do that in phases in a blended version. But because of the pandemic, as as you know, well, in New York City, we've taken all of our classes online. So it has been an interesting blend. For us to find out, we have a lot of students who just can't get on the internet, because they don't have internet service, or they don't have a computer, or they don't have a smartphone, or, you know, whatever. So it's we're discovering that one thing you have to do in this season in time with theological education is that you also have to have technological education now. So we never thought we'd have to do that. So we have to become experts, the delivery system that you're trying to, will share with the educational format that you're going to share with, with your, with your people, your theological education. So I'm discovering that we have all kinds of people, we have immigrants from every nation in the world here in New York City. And when they come to the table, they come at different levels of education, different levels of understanding of the language. So my challenge to my instructors is that, and as a longtime teacher here for 10 years. It's keep it simple. But but don't dumb it down. You know, we have to consider who our audience are. The other thing that I want to also bring to mind is that the the average age of the students who were part of our school was much older, over over 50. Now, with technology and online option, now we have the opportunity to reach younger people. And that brings a different dynamic, because younger people treat technology differently. So if we are doing theological education, it is excited to be able to reach a younger crowd. But that also changes the way that we have to do theological education online. So it's a it's a multiple challenges. And I think what is lacking in the past is that many of us have been on an island, because we're also competitive, that we're competing against each other. The pandemic has forced us to realize we can't compete against each other. We have to work with each other. Because this is affecting everybody.
That's a very good reminder. Thank you very much for that. Dr. Herbert Elizabeth Sendek, you get the last word and then Dr. Frankie john, if you'd close us in prayer, please.
Thank you a voice from Matthew Mercado, please serve to Mexico. Oh, I want to say and I put something in the chat that it is important to realize that the urgent need is to face it, at least for the church in Latin America. Yes, it is important to give access to practitioners. And I love that idea that resonates with the whole theory of education in Latin America from Paulo Freire a that you are you come with a wealth of action. And you education. One of the reasons of education is to help you reflect on that, from the perspective in theological education, of Bible and history of the church in your context and theology. So you can adjust and change and experienced transformation personally, and also in your practice, and that transformation, in turn, feeds into continued reflection. So it is important. But in order to do that, you need to have the thinkers of the church, the theologians, who can walk alongside the practitioners, and who served with the practitioners. Let me just give you one example. For the past six years, we've worked with six churches around the country that were involved in serving internally displaced people Colombia has the second largest internally displaced population in the world, is a huge, tragic phenomena in our society due to all the violence and different things. So we decided to walk, go and learn with those who have been involved the church, the practitioners, in an in a project of action, reflection, community involvement, but I'm also learning from the those people in situation of displacement that had been reached out by those churches and served by that. So we have been learning from displace people. Some are not even Christians, and that to write the church serves men should serve the petitioners. But then you have the theoretical framework of sociologists, the missiologists and biblical scholars, and in the people who come from the political field to work and learn together, how is it that the church can be better involved in reaching out to displaced people and in their flourishing in a holistic way, the product of that have been 19, could recreate small cubicle that we can use with churches, or we can use to displace people. So there is action reflection, the practitioners, the people who want to reach out with God's mission, but also the academics. And in that you have transformative theological education, the media, it can be t it can be aligned, it can be face to face, but you accomplish a goal of a type of transformative education, theological education for everyone, and for the sake of God's vision, and we continue learning.
Well said, Elizabeth, we give you a standing ovation if that were possible. Let's see. Let's let's go ahead and close. dr. john. Frankie. JOHN, if you close us in prayer, if there are others who wish to have some some after the effects conversations, we'll keep the call open. But Dr. Frankie john, if you'd close us in prayer, please.
Explain. Gracious Lord, our Heavenly Father, we thank you for this precious evening. And for some of us, it is morning and some of us exactly know, Lord, thank you for this beautiful time. And thank you for Dr. facade, Philip and the presentation we had a lot. It's a very important subject, the grapple with the transforming power of the theology of education. All our lives are changed and transformed, because we learn God's word and try to leave. And as we heard from sister Elizabeth a lot, this transformation is personal and help us to have it in our practice. Also, Lord, we thank you for all the scholars from around the world who gather around this so called, Lord, we thank you for Jonathan for organizing it. And we thank you for everyone who participated in Lego in this world as we continue to look forward for opportunities where we can come together and work together and to work to work or work towards getting a better theological education for disciple makers and church planters and ministry leaders and for church as a whole. And, Lord, help us to forget the differences and help us to concentrate on the things that unite as a God, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ and God's word. And we thank you for this beautiful time as we continue to think over all these issues and come back and look for opportunities that we can contribute and complement each other, in serving you in different capacities around the world. The thank you for all of us who are gathered longer God blesses and protectors, and especially in this COVID-19 situation. We pray that our blood protectors and our families, and our ministries and our colleagues and people around the world, and we ask you about your continuous blessings and your provisions in each one of our lives of God. Thank Lord for hearing our prayers and Jesus most precious beam Vietri. Bless you. Good night, or Good morning.
Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. If we may pray for you. We have a prayer center. It's connected to the website that ran this dialogue. And there's about 50 intercessory teams that meet meet on a weekly basis if we may pray for your movement, to have one of your people send us a prayer request. There's about 50 prayer teams that would like to pray for you. God bless you all have a wonderful day. Thank you. Thank
you so much. Thank you all those who came. Thank you, Justin. For example, many of my friends. Thank you, Dr. Mary.