teaching at a missional seminary

A year ago in the fall term Biblical’s faculty reflected on how the missional curriculum is taught at the Seminary. The impetus for the project was the commitment of the faculty to give careful attention to the ways that our theological commitments should shape the delivery of theological education.  Since learning is always interactive, it cannot be separated from the context in which it is taught, that is, the social and cultural milieu that exists when teacher, students, methodologies, theologies, resources, and more combine in what then becomes a multicultural and diverse learning environment. Here are some of the faculty responses to the question...


How do your missional commitments shape your teaching?

I approach my courses with the understanding that joining God on mission is paramount to learning or achieving any success in a spiritual discipline. I have students examine their own spiritual formation and preconceived biases and dogmas in which they approach Christ, the Bible and the Church. This exercise serves as the beginning of a deconstruction process designed to open their eyes and ears to the learning environment. The missional approach has challenged my students to recognize and elevate the Kingdom of God above the denominations of man and therefore united students from various backgrounds to grow and serve together.  Professor L. Anderson

I seek to have my teaching shaped by at least the following priorities:  the missional nature and character of God,  the Scripture as the narrative of God’s multifaceted mission centered in Jesus, the realization that we are missionaries to a post-Christian culture, incarnate the whole gospel in faithful and relevant ways, and engage by being present, participating, and partnering with the larger context and community.  Specific ways that this works out in classes are:   1) assignments and discussions that help student appreciate and celebrate the diversity of the church, 2) experiential learning where students seek to expand their repertoire of spiritual disciplines in community, and 3) contextual learning which require students to talk with their people in their ministry context about missional commitments and to conduct missional experiments.   Professor C. Zimmerman

Affirming the responsibility  (Social Change Philosophy)

One of my critical positions as a missional teacher rests on the social change philosophy. As a missional teacher, I maintain that education is a primary force for achieving social change or transforming society. Based upon my belief that that “an important purpose of knowledge construction is to help people improve society,” I encourage my ACS students to examine their own personal and cultural values and identities as missional leaders from Korean and other countries to America, so that they can view themselves not as pathetic “immigrants,” or “broken English speakers” but as contributors to the places where they can serve God and influence their community by thinking and acting Godly in all areas of life as effective witnesses for Christ and active designers of social futures.

Responding to the world (Cross-cultural Philosophy)

My teaching philosophy also aims to prepare students to read and write in ways that will serve them best as members of society by assigning students to negotiate a variety of audiences in different cultural, ethnic, linguistic, socio-economic contexts because I view learning as a negotiated activity. To do that, I provide resources and information as well as opportunities for promoting the development of cultural competence, multicultural awareness, interpersonal communication, and conflict management in our increasingly diverse community by encouraging them to involve in diverse communities and complete their community involvement journals. 

Networking the partners (Partnership Philosophy)

Another important role of the missional teacher is to promote close partnership with the church, community, and home of the students because learning is viewed as a partnership process within an organization. Missional teachers should be aware that an academic program is only a part of the educational process of students and the primary responsibilities for the education of students rest with the teachers, church leaders, students’ family members, and the community leaders, who can play complementary roles in educating missional students. With these partnerships in mind, I try my best to network with people related to the students, so that I can lead the students to spiritual, intellectual, social, and even physical maturity.  Professor C. H. Oh

About the Author

Susan Disston

Dr. Susan Disston

Susan Disston, DMin, is the Director of Institutional Assessment and Hybrid Learning at Biblical Seminary and taught in the Doctor of Ministry program.

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