The Center for Transformational Churches (CTC) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School continues to sponsor programming, cultivate curricular integration and hold campus events focusing on whole-life discipleship and the future of theological education. Some of our key themes under that umbrella include resilient ministry, vocation, lament and perseverance, human flourishing and economic wisdom. Here are a few examples of recent projects.
Recently, CTC hosted the last of our three Resilience Project gatherings. At each of these gatherings, 35 pastors in the Evangelical Free Church of America, Trinity’s denomination, gathered for a three day retreat on discipleship, church systems and fruitfulness in ministry. CTC Executive Director Donald Guthrie and Bob Burns, who are co-authors of the forthcoming book The Politics of Ministry (IVP 2018), facilitated reflection on systems leadership in the local church and the challenges that pastors face today. The challenge of cultivating whole-life discipleship is an essential aspect of this leadership. Each pastoral participant had the opportunity to process these issues rigorously with their ministry peers through a ministry case study drawn from actual past or current experiences.
Together with the Henry Center for Theological Understanding, the CTC hosted Katherine Sonderegger, D. Stephen Long and Trinity’s David Luy for a conversation on how the doctrine of creation informs Christian understanding of technological change and daily work. The speakers explored many dimensions of how the growing power of human stewardship over the natural world through science and technology challenges the church to develop new ethical guideposts. A key topic was the urgency, and the practical difficulty, of distinguishing between uses of technology that advance God’s creation design (perhaps in ways not previously anticipated by us) and uses of technology that seek to arbitrarily wrest nature out of God’s creation design.
In partnership with Moody Bible Institute, this spring the CTC held a “Lament in the Face of Evil” seminar. This was the second of three participatory gatherings for students, pastors and Christian leaders addressing the issue of lament for the local church. This seminar focused on how our encounters with evil are more than an academic puzzle or apologetic problem, but a question of life and faith for all believers. Given the struggles we face in our daily work, a well-developed capacity to lament evil, persevere and respond to it is essential to whole-life discipleship. This mini-conference involved table conversation, panel discussions, pastoral reflections and stimulating talks by Trinity faculty members Richard Averbeck and Ingrid Faro, all of which aimed at supporting the church’s response to evil in our world today.
The national office of the Oikonomia Network is part of the CTC and continues the work of convening and resourcing the ON. Our Karam Forum event gathered 158 theological educators, Christian academics and others to consider issues of whole-life discipleship, fruitful work and economic wisdom in educating the rising generation of leaders for the church. Andy Crouch spoke movingly about Isaiah’s “posterity gospel” and Charlie Self called us to the challenge of raising up “poets and prophets,” in addition to other messages. Collaboration and networking – new and renewed relationships – undergirded the event.
The ON also held its annual faculty retreat, featuring a lively presentation by Greg Jones on leading our schools into the challenge of a future where its existing structures may no longer work – building “traditioned innovation” in spite of the “back to Egypt committee” that exists at each of our schools. And of course the ON national office continues to produce resources in the Economic Wisdom Project, as well as this newsletter (hello!) and other supporting activities.
The CTC is looking forward to another exciting year, broadening our work on whole-life discipleship for human flourishing and pursuing new collaborations with colleagues as we advance the mission of theological education together.