I don’t what the future holds for seminaries, but I do know this: Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, PA (just north of Philadelphia) is intentionally missional. I can’t possibly fill you in on the details here, but I do want to record my excitement about Biblical and some observations.
If you have a missional vision for the church, and you have an emerging vision to it, make sure you look into Biblical Seminary. Some bright new professors; stability throughout; and, hey, my friend John Franke. (Now I’ve got more friends there, but I’m a fan of Franke’s thinking.)
First, Dave Dunbar (President) has thought through a missional and praxis approach thoroughly: they’ve had leaders there, they’ve read the stuff as a Faculty, and they have prayed through this, thought through this, and begun the serious process of figuring out what a misisonal leader looks like and are now figuring out how to teach each class with a missional design. Now, let me say this: that is education at its finest. A philosophy that is grasped and designed by mutual discussion and that is then implemented.
Second, I made an early presentation on Barna’s numbers and suggested that his numbers were alarming — and that we needed to work harder at developing a biblical theory of the church. Well, I was a bit stunned when (anonymous) said, “Maybe Barna’s revolutionaries are the ones who do understand the church!” I’m part way there with Barna (and this respondent), but that just excited me to see leaders thinking this way about church in the emerging generation.
Third, we discussed things like the meaning of the gospel and some ideas of what the seminary of the future needs to look like. Here are my ten points:
1. Develop accreditation with local churches and pastors.
2. Assess the program from top down and get it all in line with the vision.
3. Activist students: not there just to study but to be involved in missional work now.
4. More pastor-teachers and more teacher-pastors.
5. Acquire funds…. always.
6. Aggressive on new missional church plants.
7. Teach missional theology daily in each class.
8. Make spiritual formation integral to each and every class each and every day.
9. Communal learning style: open, discussive, and modeled by discussing professors.
10. Integrate the sacred rhythm of morning and afternoon and evening prayers at the seminary.