The term “lifelong learner” has been around for quite a while. It describes a person who never stops learning.
I have been a pastor for over 25 years. I have had people in my churches in their 50’s who, for all intents and purposes, had stopped learning. They were no longer curious or interested in anything new. That, was very sad.
I have also had very elderly people, into their 90’s, who still had that magical twinkle of curiosity in their eyes! They would never stop learning until the day they died. John was 93 when he died. He died with a whole list of things in his head that he was still wondering about, still investigating, still curious about. The wonder and beauty of the world was still something that captured his attention, and he marveled at it.
Are you, Pastor, still learning and growing? I hope so. I hope you haven’t figured it all out yet. If you have, there is a whole new pile of stuff to take a look at, and another pile, and another after that!
This week on the podcast we have Danielle Dworak, from Bethel Seminary. Danielle works with pastors who are going back for their next degree. I (Jeff) received a great four-year Bible College degree. I got a Bachelor’s in Bible and Pastoral Ministry. Then I got my Master’s in four children!
When my oldest was approaching graduation from college in May 2010, I realized I needed to go back and get my real M.Div. So, at the age of 47 I went back to school. Danielle is the lady who helps pastors like me navigate the crazy waters of the Bethel “InMinistry Program”.
On Wednesday, on episode 89, Danielle talks to Jonny and me about what she has learned in that role, and in turn asks us questions about what it’s like to finish Seminary while still serving fulltime in your ministry position.
Not just at Bethel, but all around the country, education is becoming more accessible and more affordable than ever for men and women in ministry. In episode 89, we are going to challenge you to consider going back.
One strategy, more than any other, caused me to learn the most in my four years at Bethel. Here’s what it was…
In most of our classes we were exposed to authors and professors who did not teach us what to think, but shared with us several disparate views, from people who supported them, and allowed us to decide where we were positioned on the topic.
From conservative to liberal – from dispensational theology to liberation theology, we read from a wide range of authors and positions. Reading from people who think opposite of you allows you to refine your own beliefs, and appreciate that others have very valid and understandable positions on theology, ministry, society, and the life of a disciple.
Thirty years ago, in Bible College, I was taught what to believe. Thirty years later, I was taught how to think, discern, navigate, and learn. I was then exposed to many viewpoints, and the rationales behind them, and allowed to construct my own theological convictions.
When was the last time you read someone who disagreed with your framework or worldview? When was the last time you appreciated the position and understood the viewpoint of someone with whom you vehemently disagreed?
I remember reading some liberal theologians and thinking, “Wow, I always thought they were crazy! Now, I understand why they think the way they do.” Sometimes I would still disagree, and sometimes I would change my opinion and agree with them, but always I would come away with a greater appreciation for the body of Christ and theologians who were seeking truth, and the God of truth.
This week you should go to Amazon.com and find a book who’s author espouses a different opinion than you hold on a theological or ministry issue. Read it. Understand it. Appreciate it. Then, ask yourself what you learned from it. Do you still hold to your previous position? Does it sway your thinking at all? Why, or why not?
We know you’re going to enjoy episode 89. But be warned: this is the LONGEST episode in the history of the 200churches Podcast. So enjoy – there’s lots of good stuff in there! But you might need two or three go-arounds to finish it. Don’t worry though, even though it’s longer, it’s still the same price - FREE!
Never stop learning. Never let the twinkle leave your eye! Always be curious!
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