Welcome to the Summer Term at Wesley Theological Seminary!
It is a very different season in our school’s rhythm of missional learning. Cool, crisp breezes have given way to sultry, humid afternoons, and spritely floral colors have turned to the deep, rich green that supports growing maturity.
Wesley’s campuses are still buzzing with activity. But it is a different sort of activity from the other semesters. Many students take the summer off from coursework to find full-time employment. But a growing number avail themselves of the unique mix of courses and internships that Wesley offers only during the summer.
Summertime is a great time to explore the wilder side of theological education that will take you to destinations you hadn’t anticipated. The summer schedule is indeed unique and interesting. Students are traveling to Europe for a pilgrimage integrating art and spirituality. Students are also traveling to NYC for urban ministry, or to the Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, TN, to learn how to advocate for children. Some students from near and far are settling in to take United Methodist courses online. And here at Wesley, the halls will be resounding with courses like Biblical Storytelling taught by Tracy Radosevic, and ringing with the “Songs of Zion” taught by retired-but-ever-active Dr. Bobby McClain.
Whatever you are doing this summer – whether immersed in coursework or work-work – I hope and pray that you are leaning into the deep, rich green of growing maturity. It is the perfect time to revisit the course content that you may have skimmed by in the hustle-bustle of the regular school year. For your daily meditation and devotion, draw upon the more intellectually challenging material that resonated deeply within you. Explore the texts that confused you; deepen your understanding of classical writings of saints and scholars. Use the material in groups and communities for reflection and conversation.
Because it is impossible to absorb all the rich insights and content within courses, we need to revisit them in order to solidify and embed our learning. Studies have shown that we need to do the same thing at least 25 times in order to truly learn it, and in order to ‘master’ a practice (such as playing an instrument or asking spiritually evocative questions), we need to do it 10,000 times! Practice does indeed perfect (the verb). But practicing well depends upon repetition: practicing over and over (e.g., reading, thinking, imagining, etc), always striving for a higher level of competency.
When we go to our doctor, we want and expect that professional to be highly trained and know much more than we do. We need our doctors to have a wide ranging education that they draw upon in order to diagnose and treat us with great care and expertise. We want them to be precise and clear and effective. And if they aren’t, we won’t go back. Why should church and society expect any less of Christian leaders?
So, this summer, practice your learning so you can do it better. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, don’t leave theological education behind. Lean into the deep, rich green of growing maturity in faith, theological acuity, spiritual vitality, and missional effectiveness.
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