Snapchat Wisdom of College Ministry Do's and Don'ts

Blog Header New 2017 July large logo40 transparency x 1140Snapchat Wisdom on College Ministry Do’s and Don’ts, Facebook, August 11, 14


Eric Turner

Guest Post by Podcast Seminary friend, Dr. Eric Turner

See Eric’s bio on his website
See Eric’s Original Post


No, this is not a post about how to use Snapchat (or any other social media) for growing a college ministry.
Let me explain.
I had this crazy idea recently to flood all of the college students I know on Snapchat with an informal research question. For those who do not know, I have served as a college/singles pastor at Lenexa Baptist Church in Kansas City and I am currently a New Testament faculty member at Hannibal-LaGrange University. My point is, I know a lot of college students and I am always looking for wisdom on how better to engage in effective ministry towards them.
For the record, the number of students may not be statistically significant, but at least it was enough to arrive at some interesting conclusions. So, if you are currently doing college ministry or are pondering how to begin a college ministry, you may find what I am about to share helpful, or at least, insightful. Now, here is the Snapchat question I asked,
“What is one Do and one Don’t of College Ministry?”
I received a variety of response. Allow me to list a few of them for you and then I will draw together some observations/principles for those of us who seek to faithfully minister to this unique generation. Here is a sampling of what they said…

  • Do not expect an immediate response when starting your college ministry.
  • Form friendships with college students with the intent of sharing the gospel.
  • Do not dumb down the gospel.
  • Know your audience.
  • Do not isolate your students from the larger body of believers.
  • Open up your life to your students.
  • Do life with them.
  • Keep your ministry “missional,” get it outside the four walls of the church.
  • Be careful in choosing your leadership.
  • Stay relevant.
  • Use challenging material that will make them dig deep.
  • Do not have too much structure; the ministry should have an organic feel.
  • Teach theology to college students.

  • From these and from my experience in college ministry, here are a few observations/principles that may help you get on the right track.

    1. The size of your college ministry is not as important as you think it is.
    Very little was said about students wanting to be part of a large college ministry. What was noteworthy is that students appear to value substance over sheer numbers. Unfortunately, in the past and from a pastor’s perspective, we have used numbers to gauge success. From the perspective of students, this conversation is not on their radar. Therefore, you would do well as a college minister to not base your worth on the size of your group. Churches, I exhort you, stop playing the numbers game with your leaders.
    2. College students do not want shallow teaching, they long for depth.
    Over and over again, from a majority of the students polled, I heard that depth of teaching was a major factor in whether they were attracted to or stayed connected to a college ministry. One student sent me this response,
    I once had a Bible study on campus with students through Romans. You would not believe how hungry they were for depth. They had been given Sunday School answers all their life. Students love being part of meaningful conversations. I had one student so shocked that the Jews rejected Jesus, she slammed her fists on the table and yelled, “We need to tell them!”
    In other words, put away the games you played in youth group and start digging deep into Jesus.
    3. Relationships are more important than structure in college ministry.
    Often, we begin with the opposite strategy. We are taught to develop the structure (what we do) and then, when we attract students, the focus shifts to building relationships (who we are). Almost every student responded with something about the importance of relationships. None of them were concerned at all with the format of the ministry. As a caveat, this is not to say that you have zero structure, throwing caution to the wind as you drink coffee with your students in a casual atmosphere. What I am noting is the priority you place on building relationships. In other words, focus more on who you are rather than what you do. As one student boldly declared, build a relationship with me before you lecture me.

    4. College students need engagement with the wider body of Christ, not isolation.

    Here is a secret worth its ministry weight in gold. College students want to serve in your church. Give them leadership opportunities, however, as one student rightly said, do not allow students to serve if they are living a life of unrepentant sin. Connect students with married couples, senior adults, and above all, find places for them to serve out of the gifts they possess. Just because they are college students does not mean that they share in less of a portion of the Holy Spirit.
    5. Patience is a must as you seek to disciple college students.
    One of the first “snaps” that I received back read, do not get discouraged when students seem to be living double lives, continue pouring into them. Another remarked, do not make decisions for your students when they come to you for advice. Help them make their own decisions. I have discovered that ministry to college students is often messy, but you know, so is ministry to any other age group. It takes a calm, wise, and patient leader to help guide students into Christ-likeness.
    6. You have to be willing to open your life before college students.
    I would note, if you are going to do effective, long-term ministry to college students, this principle is non-negotiable. They want to have fun with you as a leader, but they do not want you to act like a college student. They crave examples that they can follow and imitate. They want encouragement, but they value transparency the most. One student wisely said, be willing to just hang out with me – but remember, it doesn’t always have to be about coffee. Some of our deepest relationships have been and continue to be built as open our home and our lives (for better or for worse) to college students.
    7. Food, food, food…
    It may seem simplistic, but if you feed them, they will come. One of the replies was telling as it got right to the point; food – it is hard to hear over a grumbling stomach. Remember this well and get this next sentence embedded in your strategy. A home-cooked meal may be the lifeline that a college student is longing for, especially if they eat off of a meal plan in their campus cafeteria, but even more importantly, if they are struggling with homesickness and afraid to tell someone. For many, this is the first time they have been separated from family. Your family could become their family.
    Again, this post is a somewhat unscientific assessment on the best practices and common pitfalls of college ministry, the do’s and don’ts. But, I believe what is important to consider is that these principles are drawn from college students themselves. So, if you are doing college ministry or thinking of starting one, heed this practical wisdom. I truly believe that the generation that is in college right now is poised to do significant kingdom work. My prayer is that we see incredible gospel results as we faithfully minister to them.


    About Eric

    Adopted from the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home in St. Louis, Eric Turner is a Hannibal, Missouri native who recently joined the faculty at Hannibal-LaGrange University. Before accepting the position as Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek in 2014, Eric served as Interim Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in Liberty, MO, Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Braymer, MO and College/Singles Pastor at Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, KS.
    Dr. Turner currently holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies – New Testament Emphasis from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. His dissertation research focused on identifying and interpreting linguistic metaphor in Second Corinthians. The ultimate goal of the research was to show that a modern linguistic model for English metaphor can be applied to the Greek New Testament with profitable outcomes for the interpretation of historically difficult passages.
    Outside the classroom, Dr. Turner can be found running, playing guitar, riding motorcycles, or traveling. He has been married to his wife Stephanie for 23 years and together they have four children. He and his family are avid St. Louis Cardinals fans.

    Contact Dr. Eric Turner

    40 transparency x 1140


What Does the Bible Say About "Youth Ministry?"

billy_graham
A Young Billy Graham

What Does the Bible Say About Youth Ministry?

The Bible doesn’t address “youth ministry.” Youth Ministry is a phenomenon of the 20th Century, though an important one.
The word “adolescent” wasn’t coined until about 1942. At least three major historical movements led “Youth Ministry” as we know it.

1) The Industrial Revolution and Challenging Economic Times for Families Led Children Into the Work Force Where they Faced Adult Situations and Adult Temptations.

Times were tough in the 1800s and 1900s. People were scratching a living in order to survive, and this often led to the need for children to work on their farms and in their homes. Then, as the Industrial Revolution occurred, it offered more jobs and the opportunity for making money and upward mobility. Lots of children entered the work force.
Keep in mind that most kids at this time had little education and few educational opportunities. Plus ‘public school’ as we now know it didn’t exist in most places. So kids got very little education on average, unless they were wealthy.
Portrait of a child laborer standing between a spinning loom and a window at a cotton mill.  The young girl wears tattered work clothes. North America 1909
Portrait of a child laborer standing between a spinning loom and a window at a cotton mill. The young girl wears tattered work clothes.
North America
1909
The lack of child labor laws and the sheer need for income led to many kids moving into the workplace.
As these kids were exposed to adults, they were exposed to adult situations. This forced them to grow up quickly.
It also led to lots of stress and the opportunity to make mistakes. This led to an enormous upswing in lifestyle issues, moral problems, and challenges with working young people. There became a growing conviction that there was a problem and that something needed done.

2) More Educational Opportunities For Young People Delayed Their Move Into Full Adult Society and Its Responsibilities.

Even though children grew up and matured into adults throughout history, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution and on into the Early 20th Century that there rose a need for more highly-trained people to serve in larger companies as managers. This led to more and more people making the decision to pursue formal education in hopes of even higher paying jobs as, because, for the first time in U.S. history, a “Middle Class” was rising.
Prior to more people going to college, there were simply the “haves” and “have nots.” But the opportunities and needs resulting from the Industrial Revolution led to more production and the growth of industry, resulting in large businesses. These large businesses required middle-management positions. All this led to higher tiers of income and entirely new working classes, from Blue Collar, to Gray Collar, and White Collar.
But getting an education took time. So more and more children began delaying entering the workforce as kids and continued though grade school and high school, with some also entering college. In addition, because corporations had been abusing child laborers for decades, laws began keeping children from working as much. As as result, they were not intermingling as much with grown adults and being forced to “grow up.”
In 1925, the release of public tax funds (US v. School District No. 1 of Kalamazoo, MI) allowed more children to get education, because it was now being offered for everyone and paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
Before long, school attendance became ‘compulsory.’ When that happened, kids were systematically delayed from entering adult life and the work force until later.
The outcome of that was young people entered a period where they did not move from “childhood” into “adulthood” quite so rapidly. This leisure and time to grow up more slowly without adult responsibilities soon resulted in a sociological phenomenon called “adolescence.”

3) Delayed Adulthood (for those not going into the work force and spending more time in school) Resulted in Young People Having More Identity Crises and Moral Challenges.

Because more and more children were not moving directly into adult life with adult responsibilities (full work weeks, job responsibilities, hard labor, early marriages, and having children while still in their teens), they had time to develop and mature.
But because they didn’t yet have ‘careers’ and were increasingly going away from family-based trades they had done for generations, more began to struggle with their identities: “Who am I?” “What am I going to do?” “Where will I live?” “Will I make it?” These identity crises led to stress and struggle. Also, with teenagers with adult bodies and adult urges but child-like responsibilities and delayed adulthood, this increasingly became a time of moral struggles, experimentation, and often ‘excess.’
As kids were sometimes able to have childhood responsibilities (not work) but adult freedoms (living on their parents’ money while they went to school), this responsibility-freedom imbalance began to cause problems. Young people and early adults were increasingly struggling with behavioral issues, sexual struggles, alcohol problems, and more.

Enter Youth Ministry

All this led to organizations coming into existence to help young people.
From the Society of Christian Endeavor to other Temperance Societies, to the Boys Clubs and Girls Clubs, to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the YMCA and YWCA, Sunday Schools, Singing Schools, and denominational camps and recreation ministries, there was a growing specialization in ministering to young people.
So “ministries to youth” became ‘a thing’ and grew rapidly. By the early 1900s, educational institutions recognized the need to help equip youth workers, so academic programs started developing to train them. That led to a growth of literature in this area.
With academic degrees, a growing literature base, and more and more jobs in the field… “Youth Ministry” as a profession was born. This began to really happen in the 1920s, and it soon exploded in the 1940s-50s-60s-70s and beyond.

 

Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

Teach with your strengths

Teach with your Strengths, part 2 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen
In my last article (Teach with your Strengths part 1 of 2), we discussed the Biblical Reasoning of Teaching with your Strengths. This sequel article outlines the practical gifts that teachers may have according to the research team at Gallup. I highly recommend you purchase a book right now, and get the Strengthfinder 2.0 test for free!! Otherwise you will be paying $13/license. After I took this test, it has open my eyes to a whole new world of developing new skills in the teaching world.
What about the other assessments like DISC or Meyers-Brigg? Well these are personality assessments that focuses on the general demeanor of a person. But Strengthsfinder gives an accurate assessment on your teaching strengths and then follows up on practical steps on enhancing your top strengths.
After I (Kevin Nguyen) took my assessment, the results spits out 5 of my top strengths of the 34 listed. Most of us would want to zoom down to the bottom and focus on the bottom 5, but the results will only show you the top 5. Curiosity may kill you, but don’t worry, it didn’t kill me knowing my fatal flaws. Instead, I am zoned in on the top (see below of my top 5): Arranger, Significance, Strategic, Command, Communicator.
or you can just skim through this…then go take your assessment! What is your strength?
 

Signature Theme Definition in my own words
Arranger Organize with flexibility, figure out how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for max productivity Conductor, in complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible, You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project.
You are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. — because, after all, there might just be a better way.
Ex. Games – Risk, Tetris, tower defense, real-time-scenario (RTS)
Command Presence of Person, take control of a situation and make decisions Command leads you to take charge. Unlike some people, you feel no discomfort with imposing your views on others. On the contrary, once your opinion is formed, you need to share it with others. Once your goal is set, you feel restless until you have aligned others with you. You are not frightened by confrontation; rather, you know that confrontation is the first step toward resolution. Whereas others may avoid facing up to life’s unpleasantness, you feel compelled to present the facts or the truth, no matter how unpleasant it may be.
You need things to be clear between people and challenge them to be clear-eyed and honest. You may even intimidate them. And while some may resent this, labeling you opinionated, they often willingly hand you the reins. People are drawn toward those who take a stance and ask them to move in a certain direction.
Ex. Where do you want to eat? Where you want to go?
Communication Easy to put their thoughts into words, they are good conversationalists and presenters. You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public.
Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors.
This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.
Significance Want to be very important in the eyes of others? Independent and want to be recognized???? You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on.
An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave.
(driving motivation)
Whatever your focus your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.
Strategic Create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues. Sort through the clutter and find the best route, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner,
Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward.
Ex. Odyssey of Mind

Teach with your Strengths, part 1 of 2

Teaching with strengths part 1

Teach with your Strengths, part 1 of 2

by Dr. Kevin Nguyen

 
We tend to ask the common question of priority, “What do I work on first, my strength or my weaknesses?”  I had asked this question prior to starting my doctorate program.  My advisor at the time posed this conundrum to me and shared me both philosophies of thinking.  Some would work on their weaker areas to make them stronger.  Others will go all the way with they are good at so they can become experts in their field.  I chose the latter.  Why?  First, I am rooted in a Biblical Worldview in how God dispenses every believer spiritual gifts.Romans 12:6-8 says,
6Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: ifprophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7ifservice, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Second, if God has given us these unique gifts, why would we neglect it, but rather improve upon them.  The book “”Teach with your Strengths” follows these Biblical principles.  Although not written to a Christian audience, the book does support the principle that we should continue to A) Strengthen our Gifts, and b) Minimize our Weaknesses.  It takes more energy to focus on our weaknesses to make them even at par.  But the extreme energy exerted on improving our weaknesses will go further when we focus on our Strengths.  Let’s focus on our strengths.
In the next article (part 2 of 2), we will discover what my strengths are… stay tuned
I came across this book not too long ago in 2010. This book comes from a series of book from the Gallup Press.  Read more there. Teach with your strengths

Research Topics: Finding Yours in 6 Steps

research topics- choosing yours in 6 easy steps

Research Topics: Finding Yours in 6 Steps

 by Timothy Howe
 

All academics do research. Finding research topics is a part of the job. If you are in academia you will need to research. Whether you are working on a research paper, thesis, dissertation, field project, or a new book, you will need to research. Many times research topics come easily. They are dictated by someone else, by pressing circumstances or are a particular passion. However, almost every writer comes to a point in his or her career when he or she is required to write without a lead. The writer knows that something must be written, but what?


Six Steps to Choosing Your Research Topics
1. Work in an area of personal interest.
You will not want to research a topic that is dull to you. The larger the project, the more personal investment will be required to stay the course. So, from the beginning investigate topics that interest you. It is also likely to be the area where you already have some expertise.


2. Consider if your interest matters.
Just because you like a topic does not mean it is either important or interesting to others. Since writers presumably research in order to be read, consider if your interest matters. If it does not, select a new one. If it does, your are on the right track.


3. Identify what research already exists in your field of interest.
You do not want to expend a great deal of research effort only to find out that someone else has written your paper. Identity what topics are sufficiently covered and what topics have questions yet unanswered or conclusions yet unchallenged.


4. Brainstorm various possibilities.
Before researching, sit down and come up with as many ideas as you can concerning your interest. Among other things, brainstorming benefits you by leading you to something you never before considered, helping to establish the outline for when you begin writing, and by producing many future topics.


5. Narrow your topic to a manageable size.
It does no good to choose a topic of gargantuan scale. You must narrow your topic as soon as possible to a size that is appropriate for your project. Research papers must be very narrow in focus; theses, dissertations and books can be a bit broader, but be careful to not let them grow unwieldy.


6. Choose your topic. 
Sometimes the enemy is not the lack of a topic, but it is that you cannot decide between equally compelling topics. There comes a time when you must simply choose. Choose your topic and begin your research. Put your remaining other good topic ideas in your mental vault for future research.
Finally, once you have chosen your topic, start writing. 

Relationships Among Research Methods and Paradigms

Research methods and Paradigms

Relationships Among Research Methods and Paradigms

 
by Dr. Sharon Short
 
During the past several decades, considerable debate has raged between those who favor empirical (generally termed “quantitative”) research and those who prefer interpretive (generally referred to as “qualitative”) inquiry. Those who draw the lines most dogmatically argue that, since these research methods and paradigms are based on fundamentally conflicting views about the nature of reality, the researcher must commit to the one approach that corresponds to his or her philosophical position. One cannot endorse both paradigms because they represent reality in essentially contradictory ways and are therefore incompatible and mutually exclusive.
Several thoughtful scholars, however, have argued for complementarity among research paradigms rather than exclusivity (Eisner, 1981; Salomon, 1991; Soltis, 1984). As I struggled with these issues in the preparation of my dissertation proposal, I eventually concluded that those who claim that reality is either objective and external or socially constructed are claiming to much, and that it makes more sense to recognize some aspects of reality as objectively real and stable and other aspects of the same comprehensive reality as socially constructed. Salomon explains it in these words:

The very logic that underlies the acceptance of reality as social and research paradigms as human-made, admitting therefore a variety of these, ought also to accept the notion that no single paradigm or set of assumptions is necessarily superior to others….Rather, paradigms are ways to study selected aspects of the world, and thus their selection must be a function of that aspect chosen for study. (p. 15)

I think it is fair to say that reality is both stable and consistent (in general) and idiosyncratic and individualistic (in particular). This claim is much more true for the social sciences than for the physical sciences, and that may be the source of the trouble. Social scientists began by imitating the scientific methods of physical science, and these methods worked for them up to a point. But then there was so much more unexplained information than one would find in physical science, so much more variation and inconsistency, that some theorists rejected the paradigm entirely in favor of a different one, when in fact both of them could helpfully tell a part of the whole story.
Different aspects of education may appropriately be researched from each perspective. There is enough consistency, for example, in the way children develop cognitively, linguistically, and so on for general “laws” to be discovered, but there is also enough variation and individuality for research into specific cases to be important. More so than in the physical sciences, educational research needs to be approached from both ends of the spectrum if the reality under investigation is to be represented comprehensively. The correct paradigm, then, is the one that corresponds to the particular aspect of reality that is being examined.
Sources:
Eisner, E. W. (1981). On the differences between scientific and artistic approaches to qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 10(4), 5-9.
Salomon. G. (1991). Transcending the qualitative-quantitative debate: The analytic and systemic approaches to educational research. Educational Researcher, 20(6), 10-18.
Soltis, J. F. (1984). On the nature of educational research. Educational Researcher, 13(10), 5-10.

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

Waiting (for an academic position) Bond Chapel university of Chicago

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

by Steve Huerd

Within the pages of Scripture, we find many saints who had to wait upon God to fulfill their life calling.
 
The Wonder of Waiting.  Abraham had to wait for a son, Joseph had to wait to see how his dreams would be fulfilled, Moses required forty years of preparation, Caleb finally conquered Hebron after waiting forty years for an entire unbelieving generation to die in the wilderness, and the list goes on and on.  Waiting is one of God’s primary tools he uses to shape us into the kind of men and women he desires us to be.  God often gives us dreams, aspirations, and desires of what he wants to do through us to bless others.  It is during these years of waiting where God builds Christ’s character in us (Rom. 8:29) through sifting and pruning us (John 15:1-5) that we might truly know him and become even more fruitful.

The world and many who wish us well continually tell us, “You must do this and that” to get to where you want to go.  You need to complete your education, be published, attend the right types of academic communities, intentionally build strategic relationships, and so forth in order to make yourself the best candidate you can be possibly be.  Granted, there must be a balance between the waiting and preparing oneself, and these two need not be separate entities (though often it seems that even with the best of human preparation, there remain long seasons of just waiting upon God)  


Tony Stolzfus, who serves as a professional pastor’s ministry coach claims:
In God’s economy, the power of your ministry is a function of the depth of your processing. In other words, the more deeply Jesus’ character gets worked into you, the more you have to give. The more years God has to sift you and refine you and prune you for greater growth, the more potential you have for world-changing impact.”
 
The Divine Perspective About Our Academic Careers.  The biblical examples mentioned above along with particular verses seem to affirm these truths.  For example, the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1-2)  David also claims “And in thy book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Paul states that, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10).  These and other verses surely affirm that God has prepared a specific place for us to accomplish the good works he has prepared for us.  God sovereignly works on both ends, both for those seeking academic positions and for those seeking to fulfill them, to accomplish his agenda with the person of his choosing.
Often we fret and worry, becoming impatient with God and demanding for him to grant us the position we feel we deserve.  Yet even in waiting, there is danger as Stoltzfus states, “It is so easy to end up resisting the very thing that will take us where we want to go! We are protesting and squirming and trying to get out from under the knife, while God in his mercy is saying, ‘If I let you go now, you will never become what you are capable of becoming.’ If we truly demand release, God will honor our request and let us go forward into a shallow shadow of our call, but He is in no hurry to release us from the wilderness.”
 
Pondering upon these thoughts causes me to rethink my perspective and relax knowing that a loving God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t see.  It causes me to read again Andrew Murray’s classic book entitled “Waiting Upon God,” while journaling my thoughts and prayers.I find that I have to continually remind myself of this perspective time and time again when I become anxious and insecure.  When I do trust in him, I can take one day at a time, experiencing the peace he promises in Phil. 4:6-7.  I want to yield myself fully to the Master Surgeon, giving him full access to all areas of my life letting him take the time he needs to shape me into the professor that I believe he is calling me to be.

Research Genres

Research Genres, image courtesy of US Army

Research Genres

by Dr. Sharon Short
I am delighted and grateful that I was able to conduct my dissertation study in an environment where qualitative research is respected. This is not always the case. One of the students in my program mentioned to a colleague that she was planning a qualitative study, to which this individual responded, “Oh, then it isn’t real research.” Recognition of ethnographies, life stories, case studies, and the like as “real” research is joyfully welcomed by students of the social sciences who know that numbers are incapable of telling all there is to know about a subject, concept, or phenomenon. Having said this, however, I can appreciate scholars within the hard sciences questioning the legitimacy of an approach to research that allows such an astonishing array of options.
Qualitative inquiry has become an umbrella category for a bewildering variety of research procedures and reporting forms. These variations of qualitative approaches are sometimes identified as research traditions or research genres, and as many as 45 different types have been cataloged. Naturally, some of these traditions have become more thoroughly developed than others and are more widely known and applied than others. According to Jacob (1987), each such tradition or genre “forms a coherent whole, comprising internally consistent assumptions about human nature and society, foci of study, and methodology” (p. 1), somewhat like sports games that each adhere to their own sets of rules.
Since there are so many different “games” to choose from within the qualitative paradigm, and since each one requires expertise in its own unique assumptions and practices in order to be employed effectively, scholars recommend that researchers (especially novice researchers) select one or at most two of these genres within which to become knowledgeable and proficient. Furthermore, they encourage adherence to one genre as a whole rather than selectively using elements from different ones, at least until one has become very experienced.
Therefore, the next decision after one has committed to a qualitative research paradigm is to determine the most appropriate research genre for one’s research question. I found the following resources particularly helpful in understanding and selecting the genre within which to conduct my study.  See the following sources for more insights!
Sources:
Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Glesne, C., & Peshkin, A. (1992). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education (Rev. ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Jacob, E. (1987). Qualitative research traditions: A review. Review of Educational Research, 57(1), 1-50.
Piantanida, M., & Garman, N. B. (1999). The qualitative dissertation: A guide for students and faculty. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

The Best Courses Always Include… (Part Two)

Best Courses always include Bible Study

The Best Courses Always Include… (Part Two)

by Steve Huerd
Recently, while I was sitting in the dental chair, I asked my dentist and the dental hygienist, to describe for me what makes for a great professor.  After some thought, they both unanimously agreed that the best professors were those who truly cared for you.  As my anesthetic gradually wore off later in the day, I began reflecting on how teachers communicated their concern for me as a student over the years of my education.
In high school, my world literature teacher let me teach class one day debating the merits of secular humanism as compared to the truth of the gospel.  I was the only one in my entire senior class to take him up on the offer to teach class for one day  and though he was an atheist, he enabled me to teach on whatever subject I desired.
At St. Cloud State University, during Social Science 204, after listening to a homosexual couple describe their relationship, we had to write a paper stating our own views.  I expressed some strong statements in that paper and though the professor disagreed with me, he still gave me an “A” based on the quality of my work.
In seminary, when I couldn’t meet the agreed upon deadline during an independent study course, my professor cut me some slack so I could graduate.  Dr. Mark McCloskey, a dean at Bethel Seminary, met me with personally for mentoring, greatly encouraging me during a difficult time in my life.  Then, there was Dr. John Hannah, distinguished professor of Church History at Dallas Theological Seminary, who I encountered during Campus Crusade’s summer training, who cared enough to investigate nearly every detail of his subject matter making him a true expert.
In my doctoral program, Dr. Klaus Issler cared enough to keep pushing me to give my absolute best in his Theological Research and Integration course.  Dr. Kevin Lawson expressed his care through being willing to do whatever amount of work it took to help me and my fellow Talbot colleagues grasp and comprehend solid and robust educational research.  The list could go on and on of teachers who found ways to express care and concern in their pedagogy.
Caring for students, though there are a thousand ways to express it, is not dependent upon the subject matter but rather upon the character and heart of the teacher.  And, whether a teacher is a Christ follower or not, whether in elementary or graduate school, students can tell if they care, making this ingredient an indispensable part of the best courses.

The Best Courses Always Include… (Part One)

Best courses Light Bulb

The Best Courses Always Include… (Part One)

By Steve Huerd
It’s the most wonderful feeling as a speaker or teacher when someone comes up to you after you’ve finished speaking and says, “I felt like God was directly speaking to me through what you said.  It’s like you were just talking to me.”  These affirmations provide the speaker with assurance that God is using them in people’s lives through their teaching.
If our purpose as Christian educators is to teach to change lives so that we might present everyone mature in Christ (Col. 1:28), then this dynamic interaction must occur somewhere in the teaching process.  When it occurs and the light bulb comes on, a glorious thing transpires in the student’s mind and life as the Holy Spirit uses our words and life to create change in the learner.
Having sat under many Godly men and women educators during my twelve years of graduate school, I’ve noticed that the best courses always included professors making the material especially applicable to my life.
For example, while I was taking a course called Human Growth and Development at Talbot School of Theology, party of Biola University’s graduate school, I had no idea there was a scholarly area entitled “Faith Development.”  At that time, I had spent roughly twenty years investing in people to help them in their faith development as a practitioner and I was shocked to learn that scholars had been researching my life’s work!  I was so thrilled at this discovery, and grateful to my professor, Dr. Jonathan Kim, of Talbot School of Theology, for his teaching, that I devoted my dissertation to the subject of spiritual development in youth.
It was Dr. David Clark, now provost of Bethel University, whose unique and simple way of presenting his arguments in the apologetics course I took from him years ago enabled me to share these arguments with hundreds of students over the years.  Or Dr. Walter Kaiser, Old Testament Scholar and former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, whose love and passion for the Old Testament inspired me to read and love the Old Testament every year in my devotions.  It can even be as simple as sharing from your own life as Dr. Klaus Issler, professor of Christian Education and Theology at Talbot School of Theology, often did in our Philosophical Issues class causing me to rethink my own presuppositions and see Jesus in new ways.
While there is certainly not just one way to make material applicable to student’s lives, it seems all the best courses include professors who somehow have figured out how to make that happen.  Whether through their teaching methods, their insights, personal examples, relationships, etc., they always find a way to connect their subject matter to their students’ lives.