Have you ever thought about going to seminary? One way to do it is to join me in an online class.
Vocation and Christian Transformation is a required course for our Master of Divinity seminary students. The course is an introduction to the life of vocation as a Christian shepherd. Yet, I think that some of you might benefit from taking this course, too. How can you do it? You can audit and take no tests. Or, you can take it by registering, tests and all, and pick up some graduate hours. Even if you are on the road to an MBA, this is a great course for equipping you for a lifetime of resources. It might also help you to begin to think, reflect, and consider life more theologically. Since, theology is “simply” the study of God, how can that be anything but good? Well, the choice of registration is up to you. But, know this: I would love to have you in the class. While the delivery system is asynchronous online, I have found that it is a very engaged class! We make sure there is interaction each week between professor and student. Indeed, there is a required give-and-take (on discussion boards) for students. In short, we would love to have you join us. Write Miss Robin Broome at [email protected] If you are struggling with a call to ministry or missions this is a course that will help you. If you are a believer who is quite confident in your own calling, whatever or wherever that is, a course like this can open up a new world of learning for you. What I am really trying to say is this: you are most welcome to join us.
[pullquote] ERSKINE SEMINARY | P.O. BOX 338 | 2 WASHINGTON ST, DUE WEST, SC 29639 | 1-800-770-6936[/pullquote]
The following info is taken from the Syllabus. For a complete syllabus and other information please visit the Seminary site: http://seminary.erskine.edu/. Go to Academics and you can learn more. But for now, here is an overview of the course.
PM 502Z Christian Vocation and Transformation
Michael A. Milton, PhD, MPA
James Ragsdale Chair of Missions and Evangelism; President, D. James Kennedy Institute of Reformed Leadership
DELIVERY: Asynchronous Online Learning
CLASS MEETING TIMES AND LOCATION
- Eight-week intensive
- September 5th – 31st online
- Learning Management System (LMS): Schoology
This course introduces students to God’s great purpose for the world and our calling to serve that purpose in discipleship for the church, family, and community. Emphasis is placed upon growing in the grace of God and discerning one’s gifts and calling within the service of God. Required in all master level degree programs. Three credit hours. (Replaces PM 501 Introduction to Theological Education on the M.Div. worksheet and CE 551 Spiritual Formation and HT 560 Reformed Spirituality on the M.A.P.M. and M.A.T.S. worksheets, and satisfies PM 010 Professional Assessment)
COURSE LEARNING OUTCOMES (CLOs)
This course is designed to introduce the theological student to the Biblical and theological foundations and resources to discern, practice, and sustain a spiritually healthy ministry as Christian shepherd and person. The purpose of this course is to help the seminary student to explore and grow in Biblical and theological understanding of vocation and the ongoing personal ministry of formation and transformation through Word, Sacrament, and Prayer, expressed through a variety of spiritual formation resources available. By the completion of this course, the student will:
- Articulate an understanding of the nature of Christian vocation, including God’s call of all Christian disciples to ministry in the church and in the world. (MDIV SLOs 1a, 1b, 3 and 4)
- Discuss a theology of ordination to the Gospel ministry and differentiate expressions of ministry within that vocation. (MDIV SLOs 1b, 1c and 3)
- Demonstrate in writing and discussion a growing understanding of the concepts of virtue, integrity and professional ethics of a minister of the gospel. (MDIV SLOs 2a, 2b, 3 and 4)
- Produce a finished journal of theological reflection of this understanding on his/her own habits, personal life, and challenges to the virtue, integrity and professional ethics. (MDIV SLOs 2a, 3 and 4)
- Demonstrate his/her own ongoing commitment to a life of the pursuit of God’s holiness through the means of grace the Lord has provided. (MDIV SLO4)
- Articulate his/her own personal call to the ministry and specific personal goals that will sustain that call through spiritual formation. (MDIV SLO3)
- Relate his/her calling to the student’s understanding of a personal mission in life and how this connects to the mission of God. (MDIV SLOs 1a, 1b, 1c and 3)
- Form a distinctively Reformed spirituality from which to draw in the ongoing life work of personal formation and transformation. (MDIV SLOs 3 and 4)
MODE OF INSTRUCTION
The class will be taught using these modes of instruction: (1) Class Lectures (asynchronous lectures that can be reviewed 24/7); (2) Interaction (with peers and professor through a weekly discussion board on the respective research topic); (3) Readings and Theological Reflection by Journaling; (4) Weekly Research Papers (requiring peer-reviewed research citations).
Means of Student Evaluation related to course instruction: Research papers; final project for a sustainable spiritual formation plan; discussion board with faculty interaction.
Attendance at all class sessions is expected. Attendance at the very first class is mandatory. If absent for whatever reasons for more than one day class session or the equivalent (arriving late or leaving early), the student is expected to withdraw from the class or receive a failing grade for the course.
Participation is required and is especially important for a course of vocation and formation. Participation is evaluated through your involvement in small group presentations on research questions during the live classroom portion of the class and through discussion boards during the online portion of the class. (10% of final grade)
Spiritual formation is an important part of this course. “Spiritual formation can also be described as the process of spiritual growth and development that begins to take place in a human being when that person has encountered the divine and the divine begins to impart a new center for the human consciousness (Johnson 1988). Expectations include keeping a journal for readings, as well as possibilities for continued spiritual growth, relating the student’s impressions to his/her own vocation. The student is required to complete a major, final research paper of 8-10 pages on a personal, sustainable spiritual formation plan, integrating resources that help shape the primary means of “vocational holiness”: doxology, prayer, study. A student’s written statement of honor certifying the percentage of the written journal completion (100%, 90%, 75%, 50%) is due with the major research paper. The major research paper is due by the end of the semester. (45% of final grade)
Required are research and writing of a 3-4 page research paper for each of the major class periods. These papers will consist of theological reflection on the experience and the content of the class and required readings. The three theological reflection papers are each graded with the average of the three providing the final grade. (30% of final grade)
The reading requirement for this course is a minimum of 1300 pages, except for international students with English as a second language. Use the “40-20 minutes” rule: 40 minutes of reading with 20 minutes of reflection for each hour of reading. The student will submit a reading statement to document the degree or percentage of completion of the required course reading. (5% of final grade)
Additionally, part of the spiritual formation component of this class is completion of Professional Assessment requirements online for the MDIV degree. (10% of final grade)
Summary of deliverable products for the course:
- Discussion board questions and research report-backs (10%). (CLOs 1, 2 and 3)
- Major project paper (8-10 pages) on a Personal Spiritual Formation Plan based on the Spiritual Formation Journal. A spiritual formation journal recording transformational connections of heart issues to Christian virtues, integrity and ethics based in Reformed theology through participation in this class and its assignments is required. Though the Spiritual Formation Journal is private to the student, an “honor statement” with percentage of journal actually completed is to be handed in for grade calculation (45%). (CLOs 5, 6, 7 and 8)
- 6 research papers (theological reflection papers) of no more than 3-4 pages each (30%). (CLOs 2, 3, 4 and 5)
- Statement of Reading (5%). (CLOs 1, 2 and 4)
- Completion of Professional Assessment components online (10%). (CLOs 1, 6, 7 and 8)
- Vocation: Biblical and Theological Foundations
- Formation and Transformation: Gospel Mandates and Means of Grace
- Calling: Exploring the Biblical-Theological framework of the divine call to ministry and various expressions of that call within the Church
- Character: Biblical concepts of virtue in vocation
- Competence: Theological dimensions on growing in grace while growing as a Christian shepherd
- Sustaining: Exploring the “seasons of ministry” and Gospel sustainment through the inevitable crisis (explore boundaries of ministry care; self-care; the pastor’s family life)
- Semper Reformanda: “the Church Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God” applied to the student’s life and ministry; with resources for a lifetime of spiritual nourishment
- Resources for a lifetime of growth
Students are expected to secure their own copies of all required textbooks. As a convenience, the seminary has this bookstore portal. There you will find links to familiar vendors (CBD and Amazon) and can check availability of texts, compare prices, and place orders. The ETS SBA will receive a modest percentage of the profits from students’ and professors’ purchases through this portal. The Erskine Campus Bookstore will carry a limited number of copies of every required text and orders for books can be placed through the Campus Bookstore.
- Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-1576839324
- Calvin, Jean. The Golden Book of the True Christian Life. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0801065286
- Milton, Michael A. Lord, I Want to Follow Your Call: A Pastoral Guide to the Ordained Ministry. 1st ed. Charlotte: Bethesda Publishing Group, 2016.
- _____. The Secret Life of a Pastor: (and Other Intimate Letters on Ministry). 1st ed. Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2015.
- Packer, J. I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990. ISBN-13: 978-1433515811
- Sire, James W. Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0830822737