I am excited to be the Chancellor of a seminary in Redmond, WA, called Washington Seminary. This is a seminary that’s attempting to think and function differently from traditional forms of education because of a couple of things. One is we live in a very busy world where it’s difficult for people to fit theological education into their busy lives, and so we offer flexible education. Students listen to recorded lectures from Regent College and to short tutorials that I record, and they read several books and articles to give a broad perspective of reading around the subjects of the course.
We offer four masters degrees: Master of Theological Arts, Master of Ministry, Master of Marketplace Ministry, and Master of Christian Counseling. These really play out some of my delights in life, to think about how the arts play out theology in ways that mere books and mere words cannot. The nature of ministry – I’ve been involved on staff in four churches in my life, and so I’m very concerned with the life of the church as it goes forth to live out the missional life of God in the world.
Regarding marketplace ministry, I have worked as the manager of a bakery espresso, and I’ve worked as a custodian and, well, quite a number of jobs out there in the “real world,” meaning not the world that is just Christian, and I have a great desire to discover how to help people to think about working in those areas as ministry, not merely as the support for what one does with ministry in the church, but that our jobs are our ministry. I am a Christian counselor as well, and I think I have some different ways of thinking about Christian counseling than what most of the literature that I read in Christian counseling is working from, so that is another area of great interest to me. So these four degrees shape the masters programs.
On Wednesday evenings we also offer Under the Green Roof, where I get to play out art and scripture. We’ve gone through the book of Genesis and are now going through the book of John. Every week we discuss a different kind of art form as it plays out a different chapter or two from the Bible and then have conversations with those who come as a way of really learning to live, and shaping the culture of Washington Seminary as something that is both deeply rooted in the biblical traditions but also has wings to fly in what it means to speak artistically in a world where the artist seems to have become the truth bearer of the day. Musicians, movie makers -- all those are where people are looking for their truth statements, I think, and so believing we need to be involved in that, we are studying art, talking about art, as a way of living the missional life of God. It’s amazing. People can even talk about the art when they go back to work the next day in a way that they might have a hard time talking about scripture or principles or anything like that. And we offer weekend seminaries where we bring in people like Tom and Christine Sine for extended periods of time, and quarterly Conversations, which are idea jam sessions based on the idea of a jam session in jazz where a variety of people come together and don’t preplan, but begin by setting a theme and playing out of that theme.
We are developing other ideas as well, but that just gives you a little bit of insight that my concerns as a relational theologian are not merely academic, but that they are really concerned about bridging between the life of the academy and the church, believing that the questions of the church really need to inform the questions of the academy, and that the vast amounts of information that the academy has need to be translated and brought into the life of the church to enrich its future and to live within the purposes of God and to see the people of God equipped to articulate and act out of the very life of God.