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I have had leadership roles in the past.  In the process with the role comes responsibility.

Some of my responsibilities I know other people would be concerned about.  Some of my responsibilities involved looking after now demolished buildings.

So today I was embarrased or surprised or something when I found pictures of the old places and people associated with it on Facebook.

So who knows what else I may find …

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We are over half way in Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do and I have only just noticed that Ken was at NYU.  Ken seems to have skipped across the river to Montclair in New Jersey.

In the fifth chapter Bain considers how college teachers conduct their classes.  The two rules are basically keep the students engaged and let them be committed participants.  This is a very brief summary of a whole chapter and Bain makes each of these two points into half a chapter each.

If I reflect upon this in my own life I am reminded of the worst lecturer I ever had.  The class was co-ordinated by a senior academic and a junior academic was left to fill in a lecture or two and make sure the guests turned up to the correct room for the rest of the time.  I still remember the first day the junior academic lectured.  The class up to that point had all been one and a half hours in a three hour slot.  He knew better we had to go for three and a quarter hours.  I ended up with a parking ticket.  He did not keep us engaged.  From my very faulty  memory we were committed because of threats of failure if we walked out.  We were not participants but tortured.  Eventually a year or so later the junior academic was fired.

These ideas are still the backbone of my teaching but Bain starts the chapter with one other idea some of us can do this while lecturing and lecturing alone, others need exercises and lectures and some use exercises only.  I realise my own position now is in the middle – both work for me but it is because I have seen the abuse of lectures that I know there are other ways to keep students engaged as well.

This week I was asked in my Homiletics class about the role of preaching in a missional church environment after someone else had spoken on a Reformed view of preaching in church.  This was a good question.  Recently we were at a restaurant we like, Captain Americas, and found out a while back they had 9 stores, now there are 1.

These two ideas are connected as I answered from last weeks blog.  We are in a time of transition that the attractional church is picking up those non-churched who have an idea of church from their living in Christendom while the missional church is picking up other non-believers.  I said to the class the period of time this transition may last is 200 hundred years.  This was a figure plucked from the air but it does reflect my thinking that this transition is not necessarily a short period.

Now can you imagine a time when there are no McDonald’s restaurants or whatever is your favourite fast food chain?  There was a time when no kid knew who Ronald McDonald was as he did not exist.  I can imagine a time when parts of the fast food industry goes the way of food cooked on an open-fire spit eaten with your own knife at barbarian long tables.  Things change, they sure have for Captain Americas.

I think it will be the same for the form of the church.  The form of the church we are familiar with, the attractional model, will disappear over a period of time but not overnight.  There was a time when you invited people to church because they had expressed a desire to fellowship with Christ, not because they wanted to hear a good sermon and make a commitment.  I think this time will come again.

On occasion I have described this as a move from large churches to niche churches.  I heard someone who did not like the idea talk about it as “But everyone still shops at <insert name of large department store> rather than going to a niche boutique.  Niche boutiques have more troubles surviving.”  This is true to a point but niche stores still survive and some of the big chains, like Starbucks this week, do sometimes close their doors in light of pressure from the niche or better established market.

Now in the end I do not thinking marketing metaphors are good description of church but I do recognise that change is in the air.

So what do you think is the lifetime of the attractional church?

The semester has started for me and I am publicising to my students how to contact me in a way that I hope they will find more relevant and helpful.  This means I expect some of you/them will be reading this for the first time.

This blog varies a lot over a variety of areas:

Monday Marking: Reflections on academic books on teaching and learning
Tuesday Theological: Reflections theological
Wednesday Whatever: Whatever
Thursday Theological: Theological Reflections
Friday Fiction: Comments on fiction or film
Weekend Wanderings: What we got up to over the weekend for my family readers
Random Revelations: Random insights into my life
Academic Agony: Things that make students or academics gnash their teeth

The theological reflections are often on issues of church, sexuality and its associated ethics, as well as issues I hear around college, from other blogs or otherwise.  These issues relate to research interests (Pentecostal Ecclesiology, Pentecostal Anthropology, and sometimes thinking through Pentecostal Ethics)  as well as the interaction of seeing the church in general move from attractional mode to missional mode.  I will be writing more on ecclesiology in the next weeks.

These thoughts are not always complete and three months later I may accidentally deny I ever said them but there were something I was thinking at some stage.

So welcome.

This is the last post for this week.  The project I have been working on is just about wrapped up and their is a wedding for me to go to so I will be away from my desk for a few days.

Breaks are good as a time to reconnecting, refreshing and hopefully kicking the cold I have picked up from somewhere.

So do you need a break?

For those who think I am going to confess that my wife caught me cheating on Facebook I am sorry to disappoint. Today’s post is far less salacious.

If I consider the spectrum of people I know or have had to deal with in the last week they vary from single and not searching, to single and (desperately) wanting a partner, to dating, “in a relationship”, just engaged, just about married, married no kids, married with kids, married with no kids again as they have moved out of home, separated, divorced, divorced with kids, remarried with kids and about to be separated, about to be remarried etc. Now the transitions between some of these phases can be fun, from going from engaged to married for example, or the transition can be painful, from married to separated. Now it seems some people may think I am divisive to keep this list yet the reality is for me there are certain things I would say to one group that I would not say to another. There is a desire that I have to fight for me to give “Unasked For Marriage Advice” which may be a sub-series next week to get it off my chest.

Regardless this weekend my wonderful wife and I were expecting someone we know to get engaged. It has not happened as far as we know and this just confirms my theory that “guys always propose later than the girl wants them to”. In the process, and this is how we get the title of this post, my wonderful wife checked Facebook to see if there was a status update there. Funnily enough there was not a change in our friends but another cousin is now “in a relationship”.  This spawned an email from my wonderful wife asking for all the details.

I think it is amusing that Facebook is becoming the arbiter of relationship status. I have read reports of miscommunication about Facebook relationship status and the problems that break up by Facebook bring. yet theologically what does it say about our relationships? It seems we all need to know when we are and are not in a relationship and where we fall on the sort of spectrum. Relationships do define us in some manner and their status is important.

So what is the status of your relationships? And where is God in the midst of them?

I have just given my last lecture for semester. It was for church history and ended on a high note as we watched a video from Paul Aldrich.

I’ll be glad to have time to get some of the huge admin I need to get done but I’ll do the marking as well.

Enjoy the video.

L Dee Fink’s, Creating Significant Learning Experiences, goes on in chapter 2 to consider a way to explain what is needed in a signifcant learning experience.  I deliberately use the phrase “a way” as Fink’s work is based on consultancy and research while trying to make the taxonomy he describes true across multiple disciplines.  The approach is integrative trying to bring in views of students, faculty and accrediting bodies.

Fink suggests 6 areas needed for Significant Learning.  These areas are:

  • Foundational Knowledge
  • Application
  • Integration
  • Human Dimension
  • Caring
  • Learning How to Learn

I find this list incredibly helpful as most times accrediting bodies want to know what Foundational Knowledge will be taught in a unit but are not concerned with how this connects to learning other than through assessment.  I know in Hermeneutics I want the students to care that a sermon or exposition is Biblical.  I do not think this can be a learning outcome that is measurable but is important.  It is not the hidden curriculum as sometimes discussed but making the values explicit in a unit.  I really like this idea.

Now I would usually relate this sort of post back to some unit that I teach.  This series has started considering the role of discipleship in the church and also when I look at blog posts like Steve’s and the Biblical text I am starting to think of new ways, that really are old, we need to do discipleship.

So imagine a program for Christians about subject S, what is the foundational knowledge for S?  How do they apply S?  Where does S relate to other areas of the Christian life?  What ways do other people affect S?  What ways do they describe S to others?  What ways should a Christian be interested in S? and what are good ongoing resources to learn more about S?

I am particularly impacted by the idea of “What ways do they describe S to others?”  We recently received a local paper that has a churches double page.  Reading over the page I only think 1 of the 5 or 6 churches would appeal to a non-Christian.  A service described as “soaking in God’s presence” I don’t think will cut it with most non-Christians.

Next semester I will be teaching two units and starting now I want to think of how these can be significant learning experiences.

Students make the best comments.  One day in chapel one of the students leading made the comment comparing the reaction of non-Christian guys to breaking up (crying jags) to Christian guys breaking up (praise God) with girls who are not right with them.

This is great insight – which I will comment on tomorrow – but also gives an idea of the issues students face.

This week I set an exam.  I do not like exams as a way of testing knowledge but I do like them as a way of giving feedback and receiving it.

Some students have commented on the exam already as it is a take home exam.  I will be interested to see the results.

Yet students always have insight into issues.  Last week I spoke on Women in Church History which is not a strength of mine.  A couple of the students picked this up and we talked in the break.  In the end I have decided I want a woman to speak to this topic rather than me in future.  I may have a report this time next  year.

So what have students said to you lately?

Last week I mentioned we would be on a camp for work. While afterwards I could say there were a few areas that we need to do better overall the camp was fantastic.

The students had a good time, many were prayed for and most had God touch their lives in what seemed to be significant ways.

At the end of the camp we had a de-brief with 5 students asked to testify what had happened over the time away. I heard amazing testimonies of where people have been and where they are now by the grace of God.

This reminds me to keep my students in my mind as individuals. You never know where a student has been before they tell you. Just because a guy says he is a single dad does not mean that his wife is deceased, for hypothetical example, his wife may have run off and left him with the kids. We heard testimonies that will make us think differently of some of the students.

At the same time as the newest faculty member I got left with doing the faculty item for a “Red Faces” contest. I worked out something fairly painful so I should not have to be up on stage too long but I had one of my co-workers, as a judge, saying “Keep him there make him squirm.” In the end I am more concerned about the student who thought I was trying to be funny than those who thought it was funny or as one speaker put it, daggy. Some of my students will think differently of me from now on too.

So what ways do you treat your students or have you been treated as a student?