Update from the Field…er, classroom
Two days are down and I’m about 58% confident that I’m going to survive. For those who don’t know, I recently had the privilege of beginning a new course of study with SMU to work on a degree in evangelism. It has already been an amazing experience.
My first round of classes started this week. There are 5 of us taking the class: an African-American female who is a Methodist Pastor in Louisiana, a white female Methodist Pastor from south of the metroplex, an African American male Methodist Pastor working in urban ministry in South Dallas and a Church Planter from Nepal…who is the son of a Hindu High Priest and has planted 47 churches and 100 house fellowships with his team in Nepal since 2001. And then there’s me.
We have only spent a few hours with each other, but there have already been some incredible conversations from this very diverse group of people. We’ve heard stories of tragedy and trauma as well as stories of great success and victory…and then we’ve heard stories about “beating the brahman boys,” which made me laugh so hard that I almost passed out…very doctoral of me I know, but its a great story that I’d be happy to tell you some time.
Everyone who knows me well at all is aware that I am a huge nerd. My friends’ responses to the news that I’ve begun this program tend to fall in one of two categories. An clear example can be seen in the replies to a facebook status update that said I was getting ready to start my first class. One person replied, “I’m a little envious” and another sent me an email warning me not to let those academics ruin my ability to connect with “regular” people.
For my skeptical friends let me describe (very briefly) our professors. Dr. Sylvest just retired from SMU and is teaching this course as adjunct faculty. He was a professor at Perkins (the theology school) for several decades. Today he gave us all acorns as a reminder to continue cultivating the seed of spiritual life that God placed within us. It could have been really cheesy, but this 73 year old man has shown such genuine concern for Christ and for us as ambassadors of Christ that instead it was quite moving. Make no mistake, his mind is sharp and we aren’t just sitting around singing campfire songs…in fact, I suspect that tomorrow we’re going to be put through the ringer as we begin presenting the case studies we’ve been preparing. But this is FAR from ivory tower egg-headedness!
Our other professor, Dr. Somers-Clark, has worked as a supervisor for clinical pastoral education (basically, hospital chaplaincy) for many years. She shared some personal stories yesterday regarding some of her struggles in ministry that helped me know immediately that this was a person whom I could trust to process through the ups and downs of serving people in the midst of their ups and downs! She has a disarming way of asking questions which elicit greater reflection and insight…and she also knows how to ask questions which push through the bluffing and posturing and expose what’s really going on under the surface.
So, the work we’re doing is quite rigorous, but its sole purpose is to further challenge and equip us to love and serve the people we come into contact with and to help them do the same.
Okay…back to reading…must not look like an idiot tomorrow.