I am here in Orlando, Florida at the 27th General Assembly for the Church of the Nazarene. Yesterday, I attended two workshops hosted by Nazarene Theological Seminary. N.T.S. recently won a US$ 500,000 grant to completely revision the entire seminary to become more thoroughly missional.
This impresses me for two reasons.
1) It takes great courage to revision EVERYTHING. Doing some curriculum review is normal for academic institutions, but NTS is putting everything on the table. They are saying, "We need to do everything differently. We aren't holding anything back. We need to be open to complete change and revision." This kind of innovation takes courage and deep seeded confidence. Such risk-taking is not common in large institutions, much less among academic or theological institutions (some of the most conservative folks out there).
2. This is exactly what N.T.S. needs to do. My good friend, David Brush, repeatedly says to me that the university/seminary as we now know it is a dying species. Centralized, entrenched, isolated education is quickly fading. According to Dave, the education of the future will be embedded in ministry and professional contexts. The academic side of lectures, evaluations, and dialog with the traditional centers of education will happen via the internet, short-term classes, professional mentors (acting as adjunct profs), and/or mobile professors (with the traditional academic qualifications). If Dave is right, and I think he probably is, then N.T.S. is right on track with this revisioning process. Also, they have the guts to take action internally on what many Christian leaders are seeing is happening in a handful of cutting edge churches who are faithfully responding to our radically changing culture. It was just beautiful to hear the leaders of NTS talk about what they are doing to make themselves more accessible to students (a.k.a. ministers) and more accountable (to themselves and to others). They are doing all they can to decentralize themselves, to get out of the way so that we can all learn together how to follow Christ more faithfully together. Beautiful!
So my props go out in a big way to the folks of N.T.S. This makes me glad to be Nazarene.