The activities and conversations at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) on whole-life discipleship, work and the economy continue to blossom in a variety of ways as the faculty more deeply engages its teaching and learning efforts. In a collaborative initiative with academic program chairs, the dean’s office recently established a learning outcomes template for all course syllabi that includes the Oikonomia Network student outcome goals. Every faculty member gives careful thought to how their course load includes curricular integration and assessment of these issues.
The data coming from this initiative, though still in the early stages of collation and review, provides great feedback on student engagement. In particular, the summative project course for four of the five masters-level programs demonstrates a near perfect score of student performance (3.94 out of 4.0) on ON Outcome #1 for the Spring, Summer and Fall 2018 semesters. Additional courses in pastoral care and congregational leadership demonstrate equal levels of student engagement in ON Outcomes #2 & #5. As the AGTS faculty continue to integrate whole-life discipleship, work and the economy into the overall curriculum, expectations for a community of student learners and faculty more fully informed by these issues should emerge.
AGTS’s doctoral programs also highlight and integrate this focus in their curricular offerings, course projects and dissertations. One of the students in our PhD in Biblical Interpretation and Theology wrote a paper last fall on a biblical theology of employer/employee relations, interpreting this theme through all of the genres of scripture. Additionally, the dissertation title for one of our 2019 Doctor of Ministry graduates is Educating Transformational Urban Leaders: A Pilot Project for Integrating Faith and Work in Next Generation Student Leaders. The Doctor of Ministry Committee just approved the doctoral project prospectus for a current military chaplain to integrate whole-life discipleship into his ministry with armed service personnel. In particular, the student will use our Discipleship Dynamics Assessment, an empirical assessment instrument created by AGTS faculty.
To highlight two of our D.Min. graduates: Svetlana Papazov, pastor of the Real Life Center near Richmond, also directs an entrepreneurial leadership enterprise, the Real Life Center for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Excellence. It offers emerging entrepreneurs office and business space, as well as leadership coaching. Svetlana also coordinates summer camping programs for children ages 5-12 and teens ages 13-18 focused on developing “kidpreneurs” and “teenpreneurs.” Real Life Center is a wonderful model of church and business incubator that connects faith and entrepreneurship. Kent Duncan, Pastor of Jefferson Assemblies of God Church in Kansas, continues to demonstrate the power of integrating work and economic issues, leading his mostly blue-collar congregation into enhancing the economic value of community businesses as well as personal flourishing in their daily labor. He is a member of the Made to Flourish Pastors Network, and you can find his excellent journal article on Faith & Human Labor at the MTF website.
This conversation about whole-life discipleship, work and the economy is also a point of synergy and progression between graduate education at AGTS and undergraduate education at Evangel University, the school in which our seminary is embedded. For example, when students in the university’s accelerated five-year pastoral degree program arrive at AGTS, we are intentional about making sure these issues are integral to the education they receive before they go out into pastoral leadership.
Finally, AGTS wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the Theology of Work Project (TOW) and the Oikonomia Network for a specialized training event for four of our key bible and theology faculty; we also wish to thank Allister McKenzie and Will Messenger of TOW for investing their time and talents. The hands-on training in TOW integration for one of the core courses in these faculty teaching loads laid the foundation for them to pass on their newly acquired knowledge, skills and experiences in maximizing the impact of our seminary curriculum on student learning and integration of whole-life discipleship, work and the economy.