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TEEM: a collaborative pedagogy of the church.

Necessity is the mother of invention. This popular dictum reminds us that in times of need we become creative and innovative. When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) came into being as a church with a new vision and identified the need for pastors for emerging ministries, seminaries collaborated with the church and invented a new model of teaching and learning theology: Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM)--the pedagogy of the church. Congregations as the loci of ministry, leaders with the discernment of a call to ordained ministry, exemplary pastors as mentors, and dedicated faculty with passion for teaching and learning have all been playing important roles in this model of theological education for the preparation of leaders for ordained ministry, especially for ethnic, under-served, rural, urban, and special ministries in the ELCA.

TEEM is a certificate program that prepares students theologically and academically to be competent candidates for ordained ministry in the ELCA. TEEM is based on an action-reflection-action model of teaching and learning theology. In developing systematic and structured models for training numerous candidates for ministry over a century--and through TEEM for more than two decades--Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) continues to reflect critically on the what, how, and where of theology. This has been part of our conversation and reflection during the TEEM annual gathering which brings together students, mentors, and internship supervisors for reflection, training, and networking, line papers in this special issue of Currents try to address these questions: How can we teach and learn theology together as a church? What kind of theology helps us prepare leaders to serve emerging ministries? How can we prepare leaders and pastors to have "proactive competence" as well as "performative excellence" (1) both in the classroom and in the society? How we are able to address these questions through the TEEM pedagogy?

In his essay " 'Go in Peace and Serve the Lord': Changing Cultures-- Changing Ministries," Michael Aune, Academic Dean at PLTS and a TEEM faculty member for more than a decade, gives an analysis of changing cultures and invites Lutherans to a radically new way of reflecting on culture and ministry. Aune challenges us by raising many important questions: Arc we able to live and serve, free of agendas, for the needs of our neighbors? Are we able to move beyond ethnocentrism and beyond an arrogant and coercive multiculturalism and recognize that God in Jesus Christ uses cultures to communicate with us? With examples of cultural expressions from both MDiv and TEEM students, Aune is hopeful about the role of theological reflection in facing the realities of our contexts: "what we have confronting us with changing cultures and changing ministries is the particular, the regional, the local--taking seriously the unique historical experience of the United States and the Americas 'in all its specificity and complexity'." Aune also takes us back to our Lutheran legacy and says:
  Think of Luther for a moment--he was a professor and a priest
  (thus belonging to a particular social class) who had a certain
  kind of piety because he was a Saxon, a German, and an Augustinian.
  As a result he would experience, think about, and articulate the
  relationship between God and humankind in ways that not only he
  could understand but also that others could understand.


Aune goes on to note that in the Lutheran liturgical tradition, already by the end of the sixteenth century there were nearly 200 different forms of worship employed by Lutherans.

Reflecting on the theological education offered by PLTS for over a century, PLTS President Phyllis Anderson promotes new models of being church and of educating pastors to serve the church and the world that are in the midst of change. Describing a variety of models of the church--Ark, Word Event, Body of Christ, People of God--which emerged in contexts in which it was natural to think of the church as central to the society, Anderson redefines, with a gracious and yet powerful voice, the new ecclesiology as follows:
  The emerging ecclesiology is not church-centered, but God-centered
  and world-focused. It begins with the idea that the church itself
  is sent. The church is Gods mission. Of course if great numbers are
  added to those who are being saved, as they were on the day of
  Pentecost, that is a wonderful thing. Surely we are called to
  bapcize and make disciples. But maintaining and growing the church
  are not primarily what this is about. The mission does not depend on
  success. It is not a strategy to re-establish Christendom. No, the
  Spirit-breathed church is simply sent into the world to serve, to
  spread the good news, to prefigure God s realm, to expend itself
  in love.


How do we educate leaders for this new "Spirit-breathed" church? Anderson highlights hopeful new beginnings and speaks with a prophetic voice: "This seminary and all our seminaries will change radically, perhaps beyond recognition. Our future at PLTS is not as the 'lone' seminary in the West, but as a vital node on a thriving network with the capacity to provide flexible, affordable, in-depth, distinctively Lutheran theological education for Spirit-filled leaders for a Spirit-breathed church."

Bishop Mark Holmerud offers a pastoral, theological, and practical reflection on theological education, stating that TEEM is "a welcome sign of a healthy collaboration between the seminaries and congregations of this church, and a much needed gift for the future of theological education and any possibility for a 'new' ecclesiology that is nimble, agile, and responsive to shifts in the culture as well as willing to risk shaping that 'dominant culture with the message of Christ's transforming love for the world." Holmerud challenges the seminaries and church structures to radically rethink the ways that pastors are trained for ordained ministry. He notes the intensive and imaginative means of pastoral formation that he encountered in El Salvador, and proposes a way to shorten the duration of classroom time at the seminary. He emphasizes that "[a]long with a diversification of modalities for theological education, we need to recognize that the diversity of our ministries or the manner in which we are trained to do ministry in a variety of contexts in no way denigrates the unity in Christ we celebrate."

Steed Davidson's prophetic sermon on "Courage and Imagination in Ministry" invites us to a radical redefinition of ministry from the perspective of wisdom and love in todays age. Davidson challenges the church to have "the imagination to be daringly different, not simply doing an old thing anew; the imagination to bold in our thinking, not merely affirming existing structures to have our way; the imagination to pioneer new ground, not inscribe old habits." Such imagination is imperative to serve the world.

Stephen Brookfield, a scholar in the field of education, was invited in 2009 to assess the effectiveness of the TEEM program of the ELCA in the Western Mission Cluster. After a detailed assessment, Brookfield commended this pedagogy as follows: "It seems that the intent of the program to connect curriculum to students own practice of ministry is both understood and appreciated by TEEM students ... In forty years of teaching I have never come across a program that has such a high level of relevance in the eyes of students." It is our TEEM students who validate this new way of teaching and learning theology.

I thank Dr. Mark Swanson, the editor for this issue, and all the editorial team of Currents for publishing this special issue on TEEM. I hope that you will find this special issue of Currents to be enlightening to you as you reflect upon your own experience of participating in, facilitating, and contributing to imaginative and innovative ways of teaching and learning theology.

(1.) For David Perkins, "performative excellence" in a field, chat is, technical precision in the handling of a wide range of concepts, may be less useful outside the classroom than "proactive competence" in fewer concepts but with a greater capacity for and alertness to their practical application and transfer from one context to another. See Patricia O'Connell Killen, "Editors Note," Teaching Iheology and Religion 14/1 (January 2011): 1, referring to David Perkins, "Beyond Understanding," in Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines, ed. Ray Land, Jan H.f. Meyers, and Jan Smith (Rotterdam and Taipei: Sense Publishers, 2008).

Moses Penumaka

Guest Editor
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Title Annotation:Theological Education for Emerging Ministries
Author:Penumaka, Moses
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2011
Words:1383
Previous Article:TEEM and the future of theological education.
Next Article:Go in Peace and Serve the Lord: Changing Cultures--Changing Ministries (1).
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