The 2015-16 academic year for the Oikonomia Network program at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) has been one of transition. Johan Mostert and Charles Self, co-facilitators of the ON/AGTS partnership, have undertaken new leadership opportunities that further remove them from leading the program. Randy Walls, associate professor of pastoral leadership, now serves as the lead facilitator for the ON program at AGTS.
Central to the ON/AGTS partnership is the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment™ (DDA), which continues to provide a resource to ministry leaders around the U.S. for identifying the critical discipleship issues in their ministry contexts. The DDA offers the user a comprehensive 13-14 page report on five dimensions of discipleship and 35 outcomes reflecting the maturity of a follower of Jesus. Leaders who invite a group to use the DDA receive a summary report on the maturity level of the group in each outcome. The website also offers resources for further growth, including a blog.
Since its official launch in the Fall of 2014, the DDA has served the almost 1,500 people who have completed the assessment. A student version of the assessment, which focuses on the life issues facing undergraduates, is in the beta-testing stage and should launch in the Spring of 2017. The student-oriented DDA will provide a wonderful complement to the current DDA and offer ministry leaders with a resource to enhance the discipleship of its younger affiliates.
There are ongoing efforts to fully establish the AGTS Discipleship Network (AGTS DN), which launched in the Spring of 2016. The AGTS DN serves as the catalyst for a network of church leaders and congregations seeking to integrate whole-life discipleship into their mission. A website with articles, with contributions from faculty, staff, students, alumni and key partners, attempts to keep people engaged in conversations and reflections on discipleship that integrates discipleship, work and economic wisdom.
The AGTS DN hosted three regional conferences in the Fall of 2016 in Richmond, Springfield and Seattle. AGTS alums and regional pastors were invited to attend and bring along a business professional congregation member or acquaintance. Participants were provided with hands-on exposure to the DDA and seminar leaders demonstrated how the DDA could be integrated into the strategic planning process for discipleship and mission fulfillment.
AGTS faculty continue to work toward integrating the ON’s student outcome goals into the seminary’s theological, missiological and practical degree programs. In particular, the new version of the student outcomes released in 2016 has provided AGTS faculty with an excellent resource for course and program integration. AGTS is approaching the 50% integration point for this focus in its course offerings. In order to work toward further integration, faculty development workshops and retreats are planned for the Spring and Summer of 2017.
The most visionary component of the ON partnership is the future development of the AGTS Center for Faith, Work and Economics (CFWE). Conversations about the center began in the Fall of 2016 and will continue into the 2017 calendar year with a focus on the center’s organizational structure, initial focus and potential funding sources. When enacted, it should become the catalyst for AGTS’s efforts to equip leaders in accelerating the integration of faith, flourishing and economic wisdom globally. The center will ultimately offer formal and professional education opportunities with a Christ-centered focus on spiritual and professional development for marketplace leaders, church pastors and intercultural studies leaders.
AGTS is thus committed to becoming an education institution fully immersed in the ethos of a mission-driven theology that seeks to empower its students and stakeholders with a vision for developing communities of faith and practice in morally grounded and value-driven economics.