We have enjoyed a lively week in seminars, which will conclude tomorrow. There are few things more challenging—and delightful—than teaching across language, culture, and tradition differences. With good humor, doctoral students have been patient with each other as they struggle to comprehend the contexts of ministry in which each serves.
The Incarnational Theology course, taught by Samuel Ling, Heather Entrekin, and me, includes a case study of an event in ministry arising out of one’s pastorate or chaplaincy or Bible college. The cases are varied, ranging from whether or not to allow a dead body to return to a village if the death occurred by accident elsewhere to the exercise of church discipline in cases of adultery, stealing, pregnancy before marriage, or playing the lottery.
The students receive feedback on professional competence, theological issues, and what each learned from this event in ministry. It should not surprise anyone that churches struggle with conflict, new ideas, and personnel matters the world over. Ministers carry significant burdens as they shepherd the vulnerable and call the wayward back to the fold.
This case study method makes sure that all students have a voice, an important ingredient when the course is taught in English and MIT students may be working in their third language. They know their tribal dialect, Burmese, and English, and they amaze Central students and faculty with their diligence in pursuing these studies.
I had opportunity to talk with two stellar CBTS students about this experience. Nathan Marsh, who serves as pastor of both First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, KS, and Antioch Baptist Church of Ada KS said: “I believe it is an experience that everyone in ministry should have, and while doing the case studies, I realized that even across the world pastors and ministers face very similar situations.”
José Martinez, pastor of Missio KC added his reflection:
This experience has made me appreciate and realize the difference in our experience and theirs; while there is lack of privilege economically, they demonstrate abundant hospitality, which suggests they are rich in ways we do not fully comprehend.
The learning is rich for us all as we seek to find common ground in our callings and respect our profound differences in worldview.
The 2014 cohort of CBTS/MIT Doctor of Ministry students has launched, with twelve more gifted scholar-practitioners. It is a profound blessing to collaborate in leadership development, and the intercultural dimensions are especially enriching.
We will begin our long journey home on Friday evening. We return with full hearts and prayerful concerns for our colleagues in ministry here in Myanmar.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church,and serving humanity.
“The vocation of the “pastor-theologian” is one that appeals deeply to my personal sense of calling. I have never felt particularly gifted as a “shepherd pastor,” or a “CEO pastor,” but have always had an abiding spiritual curiosity that has led me to seek God both intellectually and in community. Working on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree at Central gave me the valuable freedom to explore theology and biblical studies more deeply than I could have imagined. I not only learned how to conduct research in my field of New Testament studies, but I learned how to better form my own questions in search of answers. Central helped me to realize my own vision of making biblical scholarship accessible to the local parish, a vision that I hope to carry well into my future.”