Theological Education and the Role of Teaching in the 21st
A Look at the Asia Pacific Region
by Lee C. Wanak
What will theological education look like in the Asia
Pacific region during the 21st century? Such a question has a number of facets.
What will be the shape of Asian theology? Will it shed the Western middle class
paradigms inherited from the missionary era and become distinctively Asian?
What will be the nature of theological institutions in the region? Will they
remain smaller intimate communities of formation? Will they become virtual
centers of learning? Will they follow the university model? What educational
philosophies will influence theological education? How will schools balance
academic, ministerial and spiritual formation? What new kinds of ministries
will require special training? What will be the essential characteristics of
the theological teacher? What new patterns of leadership will emerge in the
21st century church and how will theological education prepare those leaders?
As we look at the unimaginable changes of the 20th
century, it is recognized that futurist ruminations be seasoned with a degree
of humility. Yet some trends are clear. Theological education in the 20th
century has been dominated by the West—its theological categories shaped by
Greek culture; its educational patterns shaped by the university model; its
attitudes influenced by modernity, industrialism, colonialism, and
individualism. In the past it’s spirituality was marked by pietism, in the
present it bears a faith of affluence and superficial commitment, and as the
20th century comes to a close, the zeal of the Western church is waning.
1. Global Trends
What forces will influence the shape of Asian theological
education? Today there are more Christians in the two-thirds world than in the
West. Churches among the developing nations are growing as are its theological
institutions. Asia claims the largest seminary in the world, Chongshin
University in Korea. The Philippines boasts over 300 Bible schools and
seminaries. What will theological education look like at the end of the 21st
century, when these schools and others yet to be founded begin to dominate the
theological scene? How will the Christian faith be recontextualized? To be sure
there are some global trends that will have an enduring effect on theological
education in the Asia Pacific region.
1.1 General Trends
1.1.1 Pluralistic Society and Global Economy
In increasing measure diverse peoples are living in close
vicinity of each other. As Christians become more cosmopolitan they will need
to learn to mix evangelization with a ministry of reconciliation and an
appreciation for tolerance. Global communications, environmental and biomedical
concerns, and market trends will raise a host of ethical and cultural issues. A
global economy will stimulate globalism in every area of life. In the global
environment the elusive value of contextualized theological education can
easily be overshadowed.
1.1.2 Global Language
English has become a global language, and a medium of
literature as diverse cultures mix with the West. The dominance of English
allows Asians to understand each other but in theological education it has
resulted in perpetuating the categories of the West. Asian theological
educators will need to increasingly develop their own literature base
addressing contextual issues.
1.1.3 Information Age
The West is moving from an industrial economy to a
post-industrial information based economy. In the developing world
pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial economies coexist. I recently
saw a sign on a nipa hut on a small
island that said, ”Email Inside.” Our students will increasingly want to “get
connected” and schools of the future will be technology sensitive. John Taylor,
Director of Hewlett-Packard Labs in Europe, forecasts that in three years “the
Internet will carry 30 times more digital stuff than it does now. Over the next
20 years, everything that has ever been written, composed, performed and
painted will have been digitized” (May, 1999, p. 60b). Some of the new
technology for information accessibility sounds like something out of Star
Wars. Holographic laser technology will be available in the next decade that
will be able to store one trillion bytes of data on a crystal the size of a
sugar cube (Holo-Storage Takes Shape, 1998). The universal access to
information will entirely change how libraries work and the way we do research.
We will never learn enough to accommodate the future. More than ever, students
will need to learn how to learn, developing self-directed skills for lifelong
1.1.4 Rise of the Pacific Rim
Despite the Asian economic crisis, the Pacific rim is
experiencing significant economic growth. Growing prosperity in the region
could reduce poverty among the masses or it could lead to the development of an
entrepreneurial and professional middle class with relatively little poverty
alleviation among the masses. The gospel of the Kingdom will require Christians
to address justice issues and inequities in society as its marginalized
underside is increasingly viewed as superfluous.
1.1.5 Absolute Poverty
Approximately 30% of the developing world’s population
exist on less than the USD1.00/day (in 1985 purchasing power dollars) poverty
line (World Bank Poverty Net: Income Poverty). If the share of people living
under the poverty line remains at this level, the absolute number of people
under the poverty line will continue to increase to 1.8 Billion by 2015 (World
Bank Poverty Net: Trends). As we prepare ministers for the 10/40 window where
82% of the poorest of the poor live, we will need to address empowerment and
poverty alleviation issues. Theological educators will need to address
emancipatory education as an outgrowth of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.
Students who will minister among the poorest of the poor will need courses on
philosophy and theology of ministry among the poor, change agency, community
organization and mobilization, project development and administration. Tuition
alone will not be adequate for school operations and two-thirds world schools
will continue to need outside funding.
1.1.6 Rise in the Level of Education
Globally the average annual increase in enrollment from
1990 to 96 in secondary and tertiary education was 3.2% and 3.5% respectively.
In Asia increases for the same period were 3.7% and 5.7% respectively and in
Oceania, 8.4% and 11.5% (UNESCO Statistics Yearbook). In the 21st century
students will have more education and our curricula and teaching will have to
account for a more sophisticated student.
Globally there is a trend toward equalizing gender
privileges and roles with a greater percentage of women entering education and
the work force (UNESCO Statistics Yearbook). This will challenge traditional views
concerning the role of women in the church and theological educators will need
to address the implications of a more gender equal society. For some this will
be a painful process of reexamining past beliefs and forming new ones.
In the developing world urban growth is typically twice
that of the population as a whole. If this pattern continues into the 21st
century a 3% annual population growth rate could result in a doubling of the
urban population every 11.6 years (Geographical Distribution and Urbanization:
Britannica CD, Version 97). By 2015, 16 of the world’s 25 largest cities, all
with a population greater than 10 million, will be in Asia (Barrett, p. 49).
The transplanted Christianity of the West was forged with a rural orientation.
Theological educators of the 21st century, more than ever, will need to think
in terms of the city. As cities become increasingly diverse, theological
educators will need to consider training in diversity to build tolerance and
understanding, without which evangelization will be fruitless. Faculty will
need to consider how students are to take their place in the world as
citizen-believers without losing their distinctively Christian identity.
1.2 Christian Trends
Whereas the above trends will affect everyone, some global
trends relate specifically to Christians.
1.2.1 Persistence of Persecution
The 20th century has been one of the bloodiest in terms of
Christian persecution. As Christians focus on the inhospitable lands of the
unreached peoples in the 10/40 window, it is reasonable to project an increase
in persecution for the 21st century. Although with the demise of communism and
the decrease of persecution in Russia, persecution appears to be on the rise in
totalitarian lands such as Myanmar and China, and in Muslim and Hindu lands
like India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. As Christianity gains a
greater foothold in Asia, a price will be paid. As Asians increasingly enter
unfriendly fields, schools will need to ask if they are adequately preparing
students for the challenges and sufferings that lie ahead?
1.2.2 Evangelical Growth.
Globally, the growth rate of evangelicals (about 5.5%) is
largely due to conversion as opposed to population growth. Although Islam is
the fastest growing religion, it is growing at a lesser rate than the
population growth of it’s adherents. Non-evangelical Protestants, however, have
a negative growth rate (Johnstone, p. 183). With more evangelicals in Asia than
in any other region of the world (Johnstone, p. 486) and having produced more
missionaries than any other region, Asia is poised for significant Evangelical
expansion (Johnstone, p. 513).
1.2.3 Asian Christianity
According to Jay Gary, president of Celebration 2000,
which specializes in turn of the millennium events, ”the statistical mean
follower of Christ today is under 20 years old, living in Asia, with a per
capita income of less than $600 a year” (Gray). Historically, the center of
Christianity moved from Asia to Europe, to the Americas and now is moving back
to Asia. Theology and the Christian life viewed through Asian eyes will
increasingly shape the nature of the church. As theological education in Asia
develops over the next century, it is likely that Asian seminaries will see an
increase in the number of Western students seeking to learn from the successes
of the Asian church.
1.2.4 Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity
The 20th century has witnessed the emergence of
Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity to 520 million worldwide, “making it the
second largest expression of faith within the Christian movement, second only
to Roman Catholics” (Gary). Pentecostalism, as the leading mainstream faith,
will increasingly take on the mantle of Evangelical leadership in influencing
our world for Christ and with its emphasis on essential spirituality may well
serve as the key unifying factor in Christendom in the 21st century.
2. Metamorphoses in Teaching Roles and Styles
Metamorphosis is a profound change from one form to
another, a transformation. The 21st century theological educator will have more
tools at his disposal than ever before. As more theologically related
information is available, Internet search engines will become more important
than library card catalogues. The role of teachers and educational institutions
will also evolve. Many of the changes discussed below are already well
of Information to Resource Guide
Given the knowledge explosion and diversity of experiences
and ministries, the role of dispenser of knowledge is being replaced by the
role of guide as students seek answers to academic, ministerial and spiritual
life-related questions. The basic question theological educators must ask is,
“what knowledge is of the most worth for the 21st century?” Learning how to
learn is a more basic knowledge than the specifics of what to learn. Helping
students develop skills in seeking and processing information is preparing them
for lifelong learning in a world where perspectives change at an ever
increasing pace. Teaching students to think creatively and critically, rather
than spoon feeding answers is key in preparing 21st century leaders.
of Knowledge to Problem Pose
Paulo Freire referred to traditional education as
“banking,” making deposits into the heads of students only to make withdrawals
at recitation or examination time. The process of writing notes on a blackboard
so that students can copy them into their notebooks and memorize them for
examination time has little to do with actual learning. The traditional lecture
method of teaching is proving to be inadequate for ministerial training and is
being supplemented by such methods as internship, simulation, case study, small
group discussion, and project development. If we believe that “the unexamined
life is not worth living,” then it’s not enough that 21st century students
simply learn doctrine. They need to develop basic competencies in doing
theology to confront the issues of their day. More than ever, the 21st century
theological educator will need to know how to nurture skills of application,
analysis, synthesis and evaluation in developing critical thinking in students.
Problem-posing education is emancipatory. It takes
seriously “the wounds of history and the resulting present context . . . . It
goes beyond filling the head with knowledge or the heart with devotion—it
prepares the whole person to summon his world to the rule of the Kingdom” (Wanak, 1993, p. 21). An emancipatory approach develops in students such traits
as efficacy (perceived ability to
control and regulate one's world), creativity, and conscientization (critical
reflection and action), and the skills of problem solving, decision making,
human relations, and leadership. Schools that are strong in these qualities
tend to emphasize their progressive function in bringing change. Those weak in
these qualities tend to maintain a subservient traditionalistic role.
Education involves more than the cognitive domain, it is
also affective, involving the shaping of values, attitudes, and emotions.
Knowledge without passion, according to Paul, amounts to nothing. The greatest
commandment sets the standard for our passions. The task of theological
education is to teach love of God and love of neighbor. Problem-posing
education requires empathy, understanding issues with both mind and heart. It
is not simply an academic exercise but a Spirit-filled identification with God
and his people that empowers people to action. The 21st century theological
educator will need to guide (rather than indoctrinate) students in shaping
their affections, sorting out their values, and acting on their commitments in
the power of the Spirit.
2.3 Low Tech to
High Tech Teaching Style
Although it is unlikely that classroom education will
disappear, increasingly, people are learning through such high tech
methodologies as Internet-based courses and classrooms paired by video links
with remote instructors. There are two concerns tied to high tech teaching
styles. First, two-thirds world students will download materials and courses of
the developed world without critically thinking about the preunderstandings and
biases of the course developers. Second, schools will not think through the
financial and ethical issues of spending money for high tech teaching in the midst
of poverty. Yet the high tech revolution steams ahead, costs continue to drop,
and the Internet adds more useful information by the day. Assignments can now
be “turned in” by email and chat rooms are becoming forums for academic
discussion. Teachers are beginning to use presentation programs, such as Power
Point, and the computer is being teamed up with projection equipment to
visualize lectures and sermons. These more efficient communication systems
leave more time available to process ideas in small discussion groups and other
work groups. Due to these new methodologies, certain social pressures are bound
to arise. To use antiquated methods will reflect negatively both on the teacher
and his material. Particularly the “yuppie” types will tend to judge godly
wisdom by its high tech packaging. On the positive side, demand for a high tech
teaching style will cause some faculty to toss out their 20-year old lecture
notes and lesson plans and begin updating and upgrading.
Educator to Global Educator
As people become more mobile and communication becomes
easier, diversity issues will take
on greater significance. For example, at Asian Theological Seminary, students
come from a dozen countries and 100 different organizations and denominations.
Asian cities are becoming more cosmopolitan and their rapid rate of growth
makes them especially important targets for ministry. The 21st century
theological educator must be able to address the diversity of the city and the
forces of global communication. Yet he must be able to guide students in
thinking contextually regarding the specific target groups of his students.
to Specialist to Interdisciplinary Focus
In the early years of a theological school’s history,
personnel tend to be generalists with a good deal of flexibility needed to
fulfill a host of smaller tasks. As the school grows, it develops programs with
specializations in Bible, Theology and Pastoral Studies. Once these areas are
secure further specialization often takes place. Programs in Christian
Education, Church Music, Missions, Counseling, Urban Ministry and Lay Studies
are often added. The greater the specialization, the more the school realizes
the need for an interdisciplinary focus that integrates not only the theological
disciplines but also a working knowledge of the social sciences. Specialized
seminars come into focus addressing questions related to biomedical ethics,
ecology, government, poverty alleviation and marketplace issues. Many of the
Bible schools and seminaries in the Asia Pacific region are post World War Two
institutions in the generalist or specialist stages. In the 21st century these
schools will desire to develop an interdisciplinary focus centered around life
issues in specific contexts. Faculties will need to expand, often with adjunct
specialists, to accommodate the new areas of study.
Theology to Holistic Theology
In the 1980s I was involved in starting a grassroots Bible school for leadership development
among rural lay pastors in Mindanao. We trained them to study their Bibles, to
evangelize, to preach, to plant churches, to marry and bury. But something was
missing and I didn’t realize what it was for some time. Our theology and
teaching had not adequately entered the lives of people, their world views,
their fears, the oppressive elements in their lives and their poverty. Ours was
a proclamation oriented school that had little to do with sociocultural
I was dismayed to find “faithful” pastors wearing anting-anting (fetishes). But we had
taught no theology of the land or the spirit world or economics or justice or
political process or healing that related to their context. As a result, our
churches practiced a split-rail Christianity (see Appendix). The upper rail
dealt with doctrines addressing eternal affairs and church life. The lower rail
dealt with everyday affairs for which the people relied upon animistic and
cultural traditions (see Appendix A). We made the spiritual man the churchman,
the proclaimer of eternal truths, but he was unequipped to confront earthly
matters. We failed to develop a holistic theology and spirituality of word and
deed for everyday life that addressed beliefs, practices, values and mores. At
least part of this omission is inherited from the West. Examine Erickson’s 1300
page Evangelical Theology. How many
pages address poverty? Two. Justice? Three pages on the justice of God.
Healing? Only six. Western systematic theology has been structured to emphasize
the upper rail at the expense of the lower. It has more to do with classical
religious theorizing than developing a contextualized theology for everyday
life and action. In the 21st century, Asian theological educators will build
upon the shortcomings of their missionary predecessors and theologize in terms
of their context. Word and deed will
meld together and produce a truly Asian Christianity.
James Plueddemann carries the fence analogy one step
further. Just as a fence with only one rail is insufficient, schools fail if
they emphasize only one rail or inadequately integrate the two. Not only are
both rails needed, but the analogy requires “fence posts” as integration points
where theory informs practice and practice informs theory (p. 9). Holistic
schools insist upon intentional interaction between theory and practice in
course curricula and the program as a whole. Curricula that integrates theory
with immersion, counseling, spiritual formation, and life experience will
create the needed symbiosis for holism. Holistic faculty respect and interact
with each other from their respective disciplines and backgrounds and seek to
strengthen their corporate theory and practice.
Non-Regulation to Accreditation and Credentialing
The 20th century has witnessed growing interest in school
regulation. Schools want accreditation both from government bodies and from
private accreditation organizations. Relatively few schools have yet to
successfully navigate the process. For example, the Philippine Association of
Bible and Theological Schools has only accredited about a dozen schools of the
over 300 in the country. Both the Association for Theological Education in
South East Asia and the Asia Theological Association have less than 100
accredited members listed in their literature. In a number of cases these are
the same schools. In the 21st century many of the post World War II schools
will seek accreditation. The question remains, however, how will school quality
be measured? Accreditation is often biased toward upper rail teaching and
structures. Asian schools that emulate their more developed upper rail
counterparts in the West will more readily be accredited. Schools addressing
lower rail issues emphasizing cultural concerns and contextual ministerial
needs will unfortunately have a more difficult time (Youngblood, 1989, p. 5).
With the strong emphasis on globalization, accreditation teams and school
faculty must be vigilant in strengthening the lower rail emphases in their
curriculum and creating effective integration points.
Credentialing is also gaining prominence in Asian
theological education. Increasingly, faculty qualifications are coming under
scrutiny. Theological schools want their faculty to keep pace with national
standards and this naturally shifts the balance between academic, ministerial and
spiritual formation, giving greater weight to academic concerns. Accreditation
teams and school faculty will need to be vigilant in maintaining balance
between these three areas of formation. Individual faculty members will need to
keep current and to upgrade their own formal studies.
3. Nurturing the Gift of Teaching
What are the desirable characteristics of Christian
teachers in the 21st century? Addressing this question involves drawing from
both biblical and modern scientific perspectives.
The Bible tells us a great deal about essential character
qualities of Christian teachers and leaders, godliness being the irreducible
minimum criteria. Trust me, our students will not remember much of our lectures
or sermons, but they will remember our character, attitudes, and sacrifices on
their behalf. They will remember the out-of-class time we spend with them, the
encouraging things we did and the standards we set for life and ministry. They
will remember that we believed in them and committed our energies to the
development of their potential. They will remember how we entered their lives,
not just their minds.
The Bible not only enlightens us on essential qualities of
Christian teachers; it also gives us models of excellence to follow as men of
God taught the people of their day. We must remember, however, that the Bible
is not a textbook on education. Biblical models of theological educators are
contextual, suited for ancient agrarian peoples and should not be applied carte blanche in the modern world. We
should certainly be disciplers as was Jesus, the master teacher, but there are
few moderns who would insist upon discipleship by traveling in itinerant bands.
Read Ezekiel through a teacher’s eyes. Ezekiel was a great prophet who
communicated the Word of God, but what church organization would want a teacher
who used his methodologies? Would your school hire a teacher who built a model
of a city and laid siege to it while lying down 390 days first on his right
side and then 390 days on his left (Ezekiel 4)? What seminary board would
accept a faculty member like Isaiah, who preached in the buff, or Hosea, who
modeled God’s covenant love and message by marrying a prostitute (Hosea 1-3)?
As times change, teaching styles need to change.
Perspectives from the Social Sciences
Pedagogical styles, to be effective, must be in context
and up to date. The social sciences as applied to education are of great
benefit in the development of pedagogy. Educational psychology does inform us about
the developmental nature of people and appropriate assessment procedures.
Sociology helps us identify educational needs and contextual concerns.
Curriculum theory guides the structuring of learning. Instructional theory
guides the teaching process. Instructional technology helps us package
instruction for efficient use.
But just as the theological educator cannot adopt, carte blanche, pedagogical methods used
in Scripture, he also cannot uncritically adopt educational theory and
principles emerging from the social sciences. Some educational approaches
contain unbiblical emphases. B.F. Skinner’s behavioral psychology understands
man simply in terms of stimulus-response. There is no higher man, no soul, no
spiritual dimension. Humanism sees man as the center of all things. There is no
lower man, no sin, no absolutes.
Text and Context
The task of the theological educator is to bridge the
ancient text and the contemporary context, ancient pedagogy and modern
approaches to academic, spiritual and ministerial formation. The Holy Spirit is
our guide in this process (1 Cor 2:9-16), not only in the relationship of text
and context, but also in our personal outworking of being both theologian and
educator. The juxtaposition of these two terms, theological and educator, may
be an oxymoron for some who feel alienated by the usage of obtuse language and
the absence of pedagogical insight in droning theological lectures (as this
sentence demonstrates). Yet the Holy Spirit bestows his gifts upon us. It is
the Spirit who makes us teachers. It is normative for teachers to possess the
gift of teaching and perhaps the associated gifts of wisdom and knowledge. The
Spirit is an active participant in our development as teachers, and it is our
responsibility to nurture our gifts.
How does the teacher of the 21st century nurture the
development of his teaching gift? We’ve already discussed the value of
godliness, a thorough knowledge of Scripture and theology, and sensitivity to
the Spirit’s developmental work in our lives. But excellence as teachers
requires an understanding and application of the art and science of pedagogy.
Excellence does not happen in a vacuum. We also need the encouragement and
evaluative feedback of our students and colleagues. Excellent faculty develop
in organizational cultures that are intentional about development. Schools need
structures and policies that nurture the pedagogical development of their
faculty. What do the social sciences tell us about good pedagogy? A
metaanalysis of one thousand studies over fifty years in several countries
reveals some enlightening results. This study identifies seven principles of
good practice in undergraduate education.
3.4.1 Good Practice Encourages Student-Faculty
Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of class is
the most important factor in student motivation and involvement. Faculty
concern helps students get through rough times and keep on working. Knowing a
few faculty members well enhances students' intellectual commitment and
encourages them to think about their own values and future plans.
3.4.2 Good Practice Encourages
Cooperation Among Students.
Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort
than a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social,
not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement
in learning. Sharing one's own ideas and responding to others' reactions
improves thinking and deepens understanding.
Good Practice Encourages Active Learning.
Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn
much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged
assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are
learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their
daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.
Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback.
Knowing what you know and don't know focuses learning.
Students need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses. In
getting started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge and
competence. In classes students need frequent opportunities to perform and
receive suggestions for improvement. At various points during college and at
the end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they
still need to know, and how to assess themselves.
Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task.
Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute
for time on task. Learning to use one's time well is critical for students and
professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time management.
Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and
effective teaching for faculty. How an institution defines time expectations
for students, faculty, administrators, and other professional staff can
establish the basis for high performance for all.
Good Practice Communicates High Expectations.
Expect more and you will get it. High expectations are
important for everyone—for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert
themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students to
perform well is a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold
high expectations for themselves and make extra efforts.
Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning.
There are many roads to learning. People bring different
talents and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the seminar
room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio. Students rich in hands-on
experience may not do so well in theory. Students need the opportunity to show
their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to
learning in new ways that do not come easily. (Applying the Seven Principles,
1991, p. 99)
These seven principles raise several questions for
students have adequate formative contact with faculty or, because of financial
and ministerial pressures, are faculty uninvolved in the
lives of students?
students involved in cooperative learning in courses and extra-curricular
activities or are many solo students, uninvolved in the learning
we bore our students with unimaginative lectures or are we using
discovery/inquiry methods to create active, self-directed learners?
we afraid to give feedback either because we fear damaging smooth interpersonal
relations or because we don’t want to spoil people
we spend adequate time on the teaching-learning process or is a good deal of
time lost due to lateness and lack of preparation?
communicate high (but realistic) expectations regarding what students
will learn, or do they see the course as an easy mark?
Does our teaching appeal to a variety of learning styles or do
we maintain a lecture/test approach to teaching?
These questions are useful in evaluating the
teaching-learning context. They can even serve as the basis for a peer-based
in-service evaluation. With the more sophisticated students of the 21st
century, schools will need to hone their skills in these seven areas.
Just as the social sciences can inform educational
practice, we can also learn from the evaluations of students and fellow
teachers. What do Assemblies of God students say about their teachers? Dwayne
Turner’s study of Assemblies of God Bible institutes in the Philippines (n =
118) identified four competency related areas students desire their teachers to
instruction including specifying learning objectives, planning learning
sequences to achieve the objectives, and syllabus
Teaching methodology; and
Evaluating learning achievement including preparing test items
and computing grades (Turner, 1988, p. 141).
In the same study teachers came to essentially the same
conclusion as students, voicing “felt weaknesses in their competencies to
perform the role tasks related to the teaching function” (Turner, 1988, p.
102). Teachers strongly expressed needs to improve competencies in planning and
organizing learning, determining what students need to learn, formulating
learning goals and preparing syllabi (p. 90).
Nurturing one’s gift as a theological educator begins with
self assessment in relation to character, knowledge of Scripture and theology,
spiritual sensitivity, the art and science of pedagogy, and feedback from
students and colleagues. Assessment with a view to the 21st century will
encourage personal and institutional metamorphosis.
4. Interventions for the 21st Century Teaching
Having examined trends affecting Asian theological
education, perspectives on nurturing the teaching gift, and metamorphoses in
teaching, what structural interventions are useful in preparing theological
educators for the 21st century?
Your Values and Goals
Values and goals are useful tools in coordinating efforts.
Make sure every faculty member knows and owns the mission of the school. The
International Council of Accrediting Agencies developed a Manifesto on the
Renewal of Evangelical Theological Education that established core values and
goals theological institutions should seek to attain:
(Youngblood, 1989, pp. 80-87)
Such values and goals serve as both criteria for
evaluation and a basis for developing guiding school documents. Asian
Theological Seminary developed statements of its mission, core values and
philosophy of education that serve as guiding pedagogical documents. The
greater the involvement of stakeholders in developing these statements, the
more they will be owned.
Help faculty identify their strengths and weaknesses and
work through plans for continuous improvement. Create mechanisms for anonymous
student evaluation. Tabulate results and comments and ask individual faculty to
make plans for their improvement. The dean should meet individually with
faculty to facilitate planning and implementation. Evaluations can also be used
to identify strengths and weaknesses by department or the faculty as a whole.
Trace progress among faculty by comparing current evaluations with those of
past years. Schools should have forum that allow students to freely express
themselves regarding programs, curricula, requirements and teaching styles.
Meritocracy must be sufficiently appreciated in the school environment for
evaluation to make significant impact.
In-service faculty development programs are cost effective
means of upgrading faculty teaching skills. Peer-based in-service programs
utilizing collegial study groups are a way of structuring faculty relationships
in order to learn from each other and strive toward the goals they have set
(Joyce, 1989, p. 70). It is the collegial bond of shared understandings and
common goals that encourages change (p. 71). Peer teaching is particularly
useful in such interventions as upgrading teaching and research skills, working
through barriers to innovation, sharing new texts and materials, upgrading the
curriculum, and developing skills in using computers and the Internet for
The success of any in-service program, however, depends on
the political will of school leadership. My own research on in-service programs
for theological schools in the Philippines indicated that although leadership
and faculty saw in-service training as highly desirable, they were ambivalent
to commit time and finances for such a program (Wanak, 1992, pp. 192-193).
In-service should be part of the school budget and faculty meetings and
retreats should be regular venues for development.
Bible and theological schools tend to have a number of
novice faculty. In Turner’s study of twelve Philippine Assemblies of God
undergraduate schools, 38% of the faculty had less than three years experience
(p. 147). In-service programs need to account for the developmental level of
individual faculty members. Faculty with less than three years experience are
still at the survival level and need special attention and relationships to
help them gain competence, instructional flexibility and expertise. At minimum,
faculty should have basic skills in application of learning theory,
instructional design, teaching methodology and evaluation (Turner, 1988, p.
165). Novice faculty also need orientation to school culture, policies and
procedures, mission, values and educational philosophy.
Since faculty credentials are a key issue in
accreditation, formal training should be a budgeted intervention for upgrading
faculty. Typically instructors should hold at least one degree higher than the
level at which they are teaching. Turner’s survey indicated that only 12.5% of
faculty had post-baccalaureate degrees. The valuing of further training should
be demonstrated in allotting time and finances for faculty development.
Sabbaticals for both formal education and professional experience should be
incorporated into faculty benefits. Longevity, experience and presence on
campus are related to credentialing. Schools that develop long term, full time
faculty with appropriate credentials and ministry experience will surely have
4.5 Develop the
School’s Organizational Culture.
Create a progressive organizational culture that values
development and nurtures a qualified, well developed faculty as the very heart
of the school. Administrative leaders who view faculty as essential and who
utilize a “theory Y” style of management, will tend to trust and respect
faculty, have confidence in them and give them freedom to work. They will be
democratic in formulating change by seeking ideas and consensus from the
faculty. Experimentation and lifelong learning should be valued in the
collegial community and built into the policies of the school.
Preparing 21st century students will require schools to be
more multi-cultural, urban and global in perspective. Whereas an organizational
culture of diversity can be enriching, faculty will need to expand their
understanding, attitudes and skills to teach the gospel in a context of greater
diversity and yet maintain reflection on contextual issues. Build expertise in
this area by providing faculty with diversity enriching ministry experiences.
The school’s organizational culture is the primary tool
for spiritual formation. The values expressed in campus life mean more than the
theories of the classroom. Intentionality in developing school culture requires
faculty reflection on student perceptions of the school—how they are accepted,
judged, valued, empowered and nurtured to maturity. How the school culture
prepares students spiritually for leadership and fellowship, success and
failure, wealth and poverty, praise and persecution, companionship and
loneliness are crucial evaluative questions.
4.6 Network with
Area schools would greatly benefit by sharing innovations,
resources and faculty and allowing cross-enrollment. Faculty in smaller schools
are often assigned to teach in areas outside of their discipline. Many Bible
and theological schools would improve the quality of education by entering into
mergers and cooperative agreements with other schools. Perhaps an optimum size
for Bible and theological schools is at least 500 students. Outside of Korea,
there are unfortunately few schools that even approach this size. Larger
schools can offer a variety of programs that are tailored to the special needs
of students—diversified music programs, adequate libraries with full time
librarians, adequately supervised practicum programs, multiple levels and
sections of course offerings; specialized course offerings such as, “Theology
of Suffering for the Persecuted Church,” specialized student groups, guidance
and counseling programs; effective orientation programs for first year
students; evening programs; and tutorial and remedial classes—if only schools
would work together to combine their individual resources into effective
4.7 Actively Seek
Faculty development requires finances and it will be
impossible to squeeze these funds from the meager tuition students pay. Schools
need to seek funding for the formal education of their faculty. Also
accommodating students from among new believers in the 10/40 window will
require substantial scholarships. If the 10/40 window is exceedingly poor but
the Pacific rim is primed for economic development, it makes sense to create
financial links. The partnership of individuals, foundations and churches in
funding faculty study programs and scholarships is essential. Although some of
the above interventions require only small budgets, they do need time and
cannot simply be added on to already busy schedules. In some cases, schools
will need additional personnel in order to redistribute work loads if
significant in-service and development programs are to be successful.
If the changes over the last century are any indication,
the next century will be marked by accelerating change. Moribund forms of
theological education will be increasingly marginalized. However, the essence
of the Christian faith will always be relevant to a world needing the lordship
of Christ. Theological educators who are wise in discerning the difference
between form and essence will determine the shape of theological education in
the future. Schools that hold firmly to the Christian faith but encourage
experimentation and innovation relevant to their context will be the leaders in
21st century theological education.
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Accreditation of Theological Education. Flemington Markets, NSW, Australia:
Upper and Lower Rail Theological Systems*
Upper Rail System
Lower Rail System
Begins with attributes of God
Begins with needs of man
Transcendence of God
Immanence of God
Special revelation, Original Scripture
General revelation, Holy Spirit
Orthodox but can neglect needs
Relevant but can be heretical
Doing theology in the present
Logical, organized, expository sermons
Testimonies, topical sermons
Emphasis on Bible
Emphasis on Holy Spirit
Gospel songs, choruses
Order and reason in worship
Mystical, relational, emotional worship
Preaching and teaching
Fellowship and worship
Authors write commentaries
Authors write devotional books
Evangelists emphasize logical steps
Evangelists emphasize testimonies
Liberal education, develop intellect
Professional education, relevance
Student, society centered
Behaviorist, social reconstructionist
Unchanging ideas of humanities
Social science to solve problems
Logic, develop mind
Experimentation, study of the world
Enhance individual, society
Methods-wrestle with ideas
Learn skills, train for profession
Standards of Accreditation
Schools to fit world-class expectations
Schools to fit contextual needs
Universal standards of excellence
Culturally relevant standards of excellence
High faculty academic qualifications
Faculty with practical experience
High entrance exam scores
Students with proven leadership ability
External written examinations