By Greg Forster
The Oikonomia Network recently announced the formation of a national advisory committee to help shepherd the network to the next level of maturity. I’m excited to announce that three new members have been added to the committee, each of whom will bring unique experience and expertise to the committee’s work: Chris Armstrong, professor of history at Bethel Seminary; Tom Nelson, pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas City; and P.J. Hill, emeritus professor of economics at Wheaton College. All three have already made important contributions to the network, such as Armstrong and Hill’s joint lecture at last fall’s Evangelical Theological Society meeting, and Tom Nelson’s presentation to the 2014 faculty retreat. They join Gerry Breshears of Western Seminary, Donald Guthrie of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Scott Rae of Biola University, Charlie Self of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and me on the committee.
All members of the committee have demonstrated a deep commitment to the ON’s mission to equip pastors for critical challenges lying ahead in the coming generation: making disciples who practice fruitful work and economic wisdom, staying grounded in the church’s unique community and mission, and bringing moral commitments that transcend partisan divisions back into our culture. Theological educators make up the bulk of the committee, founding it on the ON’s core principle that theological educators must lead in the shaping of theological education. Part of the core “value add” of the Oikonomia Network, however, is the connection it creates between the world of theological education and two other worlds from which it has unfortunately become somewhat separated: the local church and the economic order of society. Having a pastor and an economist on the committee, both of whom take the distinctive role of theological education seriously, will help us regrow those connections.
The committee has a multifaceted mission. Its largest single task is to review syllabi, publications, videos, etc. produced by ON seminaries. This review will identify a diverse array of content approaches for ON schools to consider as they work for continuous improvement. Eventually, we foresee this work facilitating the emergence of broad and flexible rubrics for identifying success and best practices. The committee will also take a leading role in planning the use of our time during the two annual face-to-face gatherings of the network: Acton University and our faculty retreat. Lastly, it will work to identify intellectual and educational resources that need to be developed.
The members of the committee welcome questions, concerns, and feedback from faculty and other leaders throughout the Oikonomia Network. Get in touch with them to share your ideas and discuss possibilities.
It is a real honor to serve the talented and diverse community of leaders God is raising up in the 18 schools that participate in our network. I look forward eagerly to all the Lord has in store for us!