The Oikonomia Network at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
Johan Mostert, professor of Community Psychology
Charlie Self, professor of Church History
Two years of research and testing with hundreds of leaders and field participants is now coming to fruition with the debut of the Discipleship Dynamics™ Assessment. This web-based, whole-life discipleship assessment resource was developed through the Oikonomia Network program at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
Discipleship Dynamics is the first of its kind. Participants receive a personalized report on 40 specific outcomes of their Christian lives. The 40 outcomes are all biblical, empirically validated, and measurable. Starting from their personal reports, participants can go online and find first steps and basic resources for growth in needed areas. If leaders register their church or organization, they receive a snapshot of the entire community’s strengths and weaknesses in each area.
What makes this assessment different is the integration of outcomes across five dimensions: Spiritual Formation, Personal Wholeness, Healthy Relationships, Vocational Clarity, and Economics and Work. While the first three are familiar territory in most resources, the last two dimensions are rarely part of the discipleship discussion. The Economics and Work dimension is particularly intriguing for pastors as they help their communities connect Sunday faith and Monday work. The Oikonomia Network’s 12 Elements Economic Wisdom informed all dimensions, outcomes, and resources.
At the centennial celebration of the Assemblies of God denomination in August, we introduced hundreds of leaders to Discipleship Dynamics. There was great interest once they realized this was not a new program for churches to adopt, but a new tool for improving existing ministry. Over 20 denominational superintendents expressed interest in the assessment of their ministers; scores of local church pastors were enthusiastic about understanding the health of their congregations.
Discipleship Dynamics is not a curriculum, program or instant fix. It serves as a catalyst to focus the efforts of pastors and leaders as well as dedicated disciples. It is useful for new college students, seminarians, and church members and is an effective pre-test for leadership assessment and development.
For more information, please see www.discipleshipdynamics.com.
The Oikonomia Network at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
Darrell Yoder, adjunct professor
In June 2014, 10 students from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (GRTS) attended the Acton University conference as part of a Kern Scholars program enhancement on faith, work, and economics. The enhancement was part of our effort to introduce Kern Scholars at GRTS to the themes of the Economic Wisdom Project. We are preparing these future pastors to lead churches with a greater understanding of the how work and economics are avenues through which followers of Christ live out their faith. The Acton University experience offered an extended, focused time to reflect on and discuss what they’ve been learning.
In addition to the regular Acton University sessions, we held four debrief meetings where students shared what they were learning and their questions. Several GRTS faculty, staff, and partners joined the conversation as well, including Michael Wittmer (professor of Systematic Theology), John Verberkmoes (academic dean), Royce Evans (director of ministry residency), and Matt Zainea (pastor of Blythefield Hills Baptist Church). We were also privileged to have Peter Greer, president of Hope International, join us to discuss his work in microfinance. One student noted, “I learned a lot about economics I was rather ignorant of before. It was very helpful.” Another said he “valued our lunch where we debriefed in the side room. It provided a good opportunity to debrief in the midst of everything, and to hear how other tracks were.”
Over the course of the next several years, all Kern Scholars as well as other GRTS students will attend Acton University. We are thankful for the opportunity to send students to such an effective venue to engage topics not normally on a pastoral student’s radar. We look forward to seeing the conversation on faith, work, and economics develop further at GRTS.