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Source: (consider it) Thread: Tertiary qualifications for ministry
Kaplan Corday
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Amongst the Methodists with whom I started out as a child, there was an expectation that any promising young man who did formal theological training would emerge from college theologicaly modernist, pastorally useless and homiletically incomprehensible.

In the evangelical (and specifically Brethren) milieu into which I then moved, there was a strongly anti-intellectual strand ("We don't need a BA Bachelor of Arts but a BA Born Again!") combined with a scripturally unexceptionable belief in the priesthood of all believers which had become conflated with a scripturally dubious belief in the public ministry of all believers.

The result was a predictable mixture of brilliant and passionate preaching and pastoral ministry by some who had never opened a book in their lives, along with loony teaching and disastrous pastoral practices by others.

(The situation has since changed greatly - I have done part-time lecturing in Church History in evangelical/charismatic Bible colleges, and seen aspiring pastors forced to grapple with theological and hermeneutical issues which in the past they wouldn't have known existed, and they also get good, sane counselling training).

Then I went to university , joined the Evangelical Union, was exposed to academic evangelical scolarship, and received the epiphanic revelation that all problems in Christendom would be solved if Christian leaders were trained in, and practised, careful exegetical techniques!

Now, many years later, I don't know what I think.

I still see some untrained Christians doing a great job in ministry, and other untrained Christians causing personal and church trainwrecks.

I still see highly qualified church leaders doing a brilliant job, and other, equally qualified leaders who are complete duds.

[ 20. September 2016, 00:46: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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SusanDoris

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Kaplan corday

I wonder whether, when you are listening to preaching and making an assessment of how good and/or effective the preacher is, do you think you get close to pinpointing what the deciding factor is? for instance, is it number of references to god and christ , or the reminders to follow good moral behaviour, or something else entirely? If that is an answerable question, I would be very interested to know what you think.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by MarsmanTJ:
Professionally, I'm a teacher, so I've a hobby horse on the subject in question, but I look at most church leaders and their preaching and think 'pedagaogically the church is stuck in the end of the 19th/start of the 20th century'.

My wife - also a teacher - would agree (and frequently tells me so!) However one must ask the more fundamental question of whether the pedagogy of a church service and of a classroom ought to be the same. Some would answer, "Yes" and some would answer, "No" - especially those who in some way believe that the sermonic form per se has some sort of divine mandate.
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TomM
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quote:
Originally posted by MarsmanTJ:
Professionally, I'm a teacher, so I've a hobby horse on the subject in question, but I look at most church leaders and their preaching and think 'pedagaogically the church is stuck in the end of the 19th/start of the 20th century'. I preach as frequently as I'm asked to (which really depends on clergy needs) but I mostly get up and tell some stories that I link to the passage of the day. I have a Masters degree in Biblical Studies and absolutely love deep in-depth exegesis and getting to a text (and when I was doing it, a few years ago, had a good working knowledge of Biblical Greek!) but your average congregation doesn't need that. A good teacher knows how to hit their class where they are, and a good story, well told, hits everyone differently. Scrap teaching clergy Greek and Hebrew, teach them about good open questioning, story-telling and how to get people to think. Far far more useful...

Doesn't that assume that the only teaching content of what we do on a Sunday is the homily?

The celebration of the Liturgy encapsulates (and has for a lot longer than it has been the consensus in education, actually) a variety of teaching methods: there is the homily, but there is also the elements of the ritual, that when fully performed engages all of the senses.

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Baptist Trainfan
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True, of course. But (a) some churches are much less ritualistic than others (although that very absence may teach something in itself); and (b) we may be surprised to find that what people learn from any ritual is rather different to what the clergy think it is teaching!
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BroJames
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
<snip>However one must ask the more fundamental question of whether the pedagogy of a church service and of a classroom ought to be the same.<snip>

Indeed! And I think there's a further question to be asked as to how far the sermon is strictly pedagogical at all. Inevitably there must be some element of education/ teaching about it, but as a type of discourse I would argue that it is more hortatory than pedagogical.

[ 20. September 2016, 10:26: Message edited by: BroJames ]

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Alan Cresswell

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Which is something we discussed recently on The Sermon thread.

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Enoch
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Kaplan Corday and Baptist Trainfan, your respective most recent posts both get a [Overused] . Thank you.

TomM, I agree with you that the liturgy also enshrines a message, but I don't think anyone is likely to guess what it is without some sort of teaching.

Perhaps this is something inadequate in me. Perhaps I'm mentally too literal, too pedestrian.

A curious bystander who wanders into a Eucharist may pick up the idea that Christians 'feed on Christ in their hearts with thanksgiving'. But, and this is an important 'but' which strikes to the heart of what I think you are saying. Without quite a lot of instruction, I don't think our curious bystander would see the bread and wine proclaiming the death of Christ until he comes.

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:

A curious bystander who wanders into a Eucharist may pick up the idea that Christians 'feed on Christ in their hearts with thanksgiving'. But, and this is an important 'but' which strikes to the heart of what I think you are saying. Without quite a lot of instruction, I don't think our curious bystander would see the bread and wine proclaiming the death of Christ until he comes.

Just interested in this. I'm sure you're right--if no one explains what's going on, he's certainly not going to understand it. But IMHO the action is clearly at the heart of worship, even to an outside observer. It is so central and so mysterious that I think any uninstructed bystander would be bound to ask what the heck is going on. Which is one of the purposes it serves, at least when it comes to proclamation.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I think any uninstructed bystander would be bound to ask what the heck is going on.

But would they? Or would they watch, jump to their own conclusions (possibly erroneous); and then leave, thinking "What an odd lot!"

After all, the Corinthians must have thought that they were in some way manifesting the reality of God by using so much unexplained tongues-speaking and ecstatic prophecy in their meetings. But Paul says that folk who wander in will actually leave, shaking their heads and saying, "They're all bonkers!"

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Gamaliel
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I agree Enoch, I think Kaplan Corday and Baptist Trainfan both raise helpful points here ...

Of course, my response would be that we need both/and not either/or ... [Biased] [Razz]

We need the passion and the professionalism /(academic aspects). We need both.

On the issue of the pedagogic effects or otherwise of rituals, I was recently told by an evangelical convert to Orthodoxy in the USA that a number of people in her Greek parish stopped coming to church when they introduced English instead of Greek as the main language in the services. According to her, they said, 'But this isn't what we believe ...' and so stopped coming.

They'd been listening to medieval Greek without understanding much of what it meant.

So, yes, whilst I think that ritual and 'dramaturgy' can take us some of the way, we also need preaching and teaching and the liturgy (of whatever kind) delivered in 'a language understanded of the people'.

I like ritual and liturgy but suspect that this is due, in no small measure, to my being able - from my years in evangelicalism - to bring a hefty level of 'word' to the proceedings as well.

Another of these both/and not either/or things ...

I 'get' ritual and choreography on some kind of mystical level, if you like, but it has to relate to the core teachings and thrust of the Gospel. At its best, Orthodox worship seems to be some kind of 3-D representation of Nicene-Chalcedonian theology. But if you weren't necessarily aware of the broad outline of that you'd easily come away completely baffled ... although you'd certainly 'get' that these people believed in the divinity of Christ and in the Trinity etc etc even if you didn't grasp what they meant by that.

The same applies to Anglican, RC and presumably Lutheran liturgies I suspect.

You'd 'get' it too among the Brethren and other independent evangelical groups but there it would be more a feature of the preaching and teaching and some of the phrases used in the extemporary prayers.

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
I think any uninstructed bystander would be bound to ask what the heck is going on.

But would they? Or would they watch, jump to their own conclusions (possibly erroneous); and then leave, thinking "What an odd lot!"

After all, the Corinthians must have thought that they were in some way manifesting the reality of God by using so much unexplained tongues-speaking and ecstatic prophecy in their meetings. But Paul says that folk who wander in will actually leave, shaking their heads and saying, "They're all bonkers!"

Well, first of all we do explain the Lord's Supper (unlike the Corinthian tongues-speakers), if at no other time than during the Words of Institution. And in fact my experience has been that there is a fair amount of other explanation around it, from pastoral explanations and instructions to stuff on cards and on the PowerPoint screen (yes, we have one of those in our host congregation, don't shoot me).

The Lord's Supper is certainly odd; but it's not a spectacle in the same way as people speaking ecstatically is. I've seen the latter and been tempted to say "They're all bonkers" myself, and I knew what was going on.

But the other is different. It's eating and drinking, so far so not-mysterious. But the thing that would catch my attention is the fact that everybody is taking it so very very seriously, and with such great humility and attention. We just don't do that in hardly any areas of our modern Western lives. Probably the closest any non-Christian American comes to this is the 9/11 commemorations, or the rare funeral they attend.

Nobody's making an exhibition of themselves (as sometimes happens even at funerals). Nobody is grandstanding for political reasons (you fill in the blanks here!) Nobody is on their iPhone or looking around in boredom while they're up at the altar. Most of all, nobody seems to be noticing that for once in their lives, they are standing or kneeling next to people not of their own type--vice presidents kneel next to cafeteria workers, and elderly folk next to teenagers--immigrants next to "been here since the Mayflower" types.

Now that would definitely get me curious.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

In what way does the thing about arty-farty graduates and so on not 'fitting in' to certain types of church ring a bell with you?

It rings a bell with me because that's what happened to me ...

You see, I haven't lived in a Methodist cocoon.

Most of the practising Christians in my extended family are evangelicals. I've reflected on what they have to offer. What they do and who they are kind of fits with their religious choices, but I don't think I'd be such a good fit for their churches, despite my admiration.

Moreover, if you're a young lay Christian in a rapidly ageing yet ecumenical Protestant denomination, you have to engage on some level with young evangelicals if you want much of a peer group. So they and their personal and academic tendencies were not a total mystery to me when I was growing up.

I did attend a new church for a time, having been recruited by some young evangelists on the street, but being a rather self-contained, less chummy version of the arts grad type I wasn't going to commit myself to their theology just because they offered a welcoming young community and lively worship.

BTW, I find your reference to careers especially interesting. If career choice and church choice are both influenced by personality you can see how particular congregations or denominations would end up with an under- or over-representation of certain social types.

quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
[It] would not be simply a question of switching denominations for many people. Their particular credal paths may well not otherwise be comfortable in another tradition. A Catholic woman feeling a call to ministry must look and decide whether the strength of that call outweighs her commitment to some of the beliefs held in the Catholic Church but not in others. For most people, switching denominations is not the simple step that your post here (and similar posts on other threads) depends upon.

Methodism is hardly the RCC!

But of course, you're right. I often speak as though we don't have to make life complicated for ourselves, but we do. We want churches that are theologically precise on the issues that are important to us personally, but tolerant on everything else that we don't have a problem with.

No denomination can really 'win' in this sort of individualistic environment, but Methodism in many parts of the Anglophone world seems to have found it especially hard to make choices that appeal to large numbers of people.

[ 20. September 2016, 15:24: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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I 'get' that SvitlanaV2 and please don't misunderstand me, I am aware of your exposure to evangelicalism in various forms and your family connections with Pentecostalism.

I don't think thee and me are that far apart in some of our assessments and conclusions to be honest.

For instance, I think your observation about young people in ageing 'mainline' denominations having to knock about with young evangelicals to a certain extent in order to have some kind of peer group is a trenchant one.

The issue of career choices and church affiliation is an interesting one too and I've not formed any hard and fast conclusions on that one.

My brother-in-law used to lecture in a Scottish university that took a lot of applicants from Northern Ireland.

He told me that, statistically speaking, those from Protestant backgrounds tended to do vocational courses such as engineering whereas the RCs were more inclined towards the arts and humanities.

I'm not sure whether this is a general rule but it's an interesting observation.

Overall, though, other than in cities with highly mobile populations, I tend to think that most RC, Anglican and Methodist churches in smaller towns or in the suburbs tend to reflect the vocational patterns of the communities they serve.

Here the pattern is for there to be a core of older people who have lived in the area for many years with a smattering of newer arrivals - families with younger kids or people who've moved to the area because it's within commuting distance of Manchester.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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TomM
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:

TomM, I agree with you that the liturgy also enshrines a message, but I don't think anyone is likely to guess what it is without some sort of teaching.

I'm not suggesting anything stands alone - but the point taught by one part (say, the homily) must be reinforced by other parts (so, the ritual, the liturgical text, the use of visual elements, engagement with other senses.) So a variety of teaching styles to convey the same point.

However, it does require all to be done well enough that they convey the intended message to the participant. (And they are equally significant participants to those 'at the front' rather than just observers or students).

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
Kaplan corday

I wonder whether, when you are listening to preaching and making an assessment of how good and/or effective the preacher is, do you think you get close to pinpointing what the deciding factor is? for instance, is it number of references to god and christ , or the reminders to follow good moral behaviour, or something else entirely? If that is an answerable question, I would be very interested to know what you think.

Thanks for your interest, and apologies for taking so long to respond, but I don't think I have anything very original or interesting to say on this subject.

Apart from some obvious non-negotiables (such as rejection of allegorisation and typology which destroys any possible grammatico-historical understanding of a scriptural passage) ITSM that there is a vast range of acceptable possibilities for preaching in terms of subject matter and style, depending on all sorts of variables such as audience, occasion, perceived needs, the preacher's particular interests and areas of expertise, and so on.

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