The following was written in as part of a letter to the Pastors and Deacons at EBC as an update on my Doctor of Ministry program before I leave for the second Residency next week. I’m posting it here because I think my blog readers would recognize that many of these themes have been popping up in recent posts (and can anticipate similar themes being further developing in forthcoming posts).
Dear Leaders of Emmanuel,
As I continue to prepare for my upcoming Doctor of Ministry residency at GCTS, I’m filled with a number of emotions. I’m thankful and overwhelmed by my family’s sacrifice and support, making this opportunity even possible. I’m anxious to finish remaining class work and to make sure I’m well prepared. I’m excited to discuss what I’ve been learning and challenged by with my fellow students and program mentors. I’m greatly blessed by how I have been stretched and challenged to continue growing in ministry. Here is the description from the syllabus for this year’s residency:
The two-week residency will focus on the cultural context of ministry to the emerging generations including children, youth, and college students/young adults. Week one will focus on developing a Christian theology of culture, including examination of the definitions of culture and the functions of culture. Cross-cultural mission principle and theory, contextualization, and multicultural issues will be explored. Week two will focus on the role culture plays in shaping the worldviews, experiences and lives of the emerging generations. In addition you will learn principles of cultural exegesis and analysis. (The third residency will focus on ministry praxis.)
As I study and read (I have at least read 22 books, totaling over 5000 pages this year, in addition to writing many papers), I am constantly wrestling through the impact my studies could have on my ministry at Emmanuel. In addition to the required readings for class I have done research regarding the “Formative Influences” that shape and mold adolescents: Physical and hormonal changes, Postmodernism, the Role of Media, Peers, Family systems, and others. Alongside my reading and studies I have provided three seminars for parents to attend as well as launching the Faith at Home Forum as a way to integrate what I’m learning into the ministry at EBC. I have also done a fair amount of reading on the practice of Catechesis, which has largely been abandoned by Baptists and is considered a “Catholic” or “Presbyterian” thing to do. I am more and more convinced that developing a biblical and contextual Catechesis program would disciple both parents and their families.
My “Project 1” paper is entitled “Foundations for Parent-Teen Discipleship: Helping Parents Understand the Formative Influences on their Teenager,” which focuses on laying a Biblical/Theological Foundation for my final thesis. I am currently anticipating a final thesis which will seek to develop a strategy whereby churches can grow more obedient to their calling in discipling parents to disciple their children, particularly their teenagers. This thesis would integrate parental responsibility and the church’s duty in discipling the next generation. This would be done through: first, understanding our biblical calling to disciple the next generation; second, understanding today’s adolescents; and third, by understanding what is most important for adolescents to be taught regarding the Gospel and how parents and churches can partner together to effectively hold out the Gospel to the next generation.
During the Christian Education hour (9:30-10:30am) on Sunday, January 29th I will be presenting an overview of what I’ve been studying and how I see that impacting Emmanuel Baptist Church’s ministry to children and teenagers. I hope you can attend, I look forward to receiving your input on how to move forward with this vision for partnering with parents for the sake of discipling the next generation!