Today's Discipleship Crisis | A Discussion with Corey Fifield

Podcast Seminary Podcast HeaderTodays Discipleship Crisis, Corey Fifield, phokos Facebook


Christian discipleship, including evangelism and the sharing of the gospel, is in trouble in many of today’s churches. This is something that can be addressed, but not without the resolve and sustained attention of churches and their leaders.
In this important dialogue on the subject by Podcast Seminary Dean, Dr. Freddy Cardoza, and Christian non-profit 501(c) ministry Global Phokos Founder, Corey Fifield, these issues are explored with candor and urgency.

Corey Fifield


Corey Fifield, Global Phokos Founder (facebook.com/globalphokos)
Corey Fifield

Freddy Cardoza


Freddy Cardoza, Podcast Seminary Dean
Freddy Cardoza


Tune in to hear two Christian leaders who care deeply about the gospel and Christian discipleship talk shop, in search of solutions.


Listen to the Discussion

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


[audio podcast] 20 Centuries of Christian Spirituality in 20 Minutes [podcast]

Podcast Seminary BannerA Short History of Christian Spirituality


Want to learn about 20 Centuries of Christian Spirituality in 20 Minutes?

Read the blog version

Spiritual maturity is important to Christians, so they have always sought to understand spirituality. Christian formation has to do with how we cooperate with God in our own personal transformation and quest for spiritual maturity. Listen to learn about several of the key movements in the history of Christianity and how believers of different centuries have thought about and practiced their faith!


http://podcastseminary.libsyn.com/2000-years-of-christian-spirituality-in-20-minutes-e012


Conclusion

That is a basic introduction to the history of Spiritual Formation. These forces did and still do impact Christians and how they think about their faith. At least gaining a basic understanding of these movements will help Christians understand other believers and how they experience God and seek to grow spiritually. Be encouraged to learn more– to expand your understanding of other believers, and also to think about how your relationship with God can become stronger through a stronger appreciation of how fellow believers seek to know God.

20 Centuries of Christian Spirituality in 20 Minutes [blog]

Podcast Seminary BannerA Short History of Christian Spirituality


by Chase Webster and Freddy Cardoza


Want to learn about 20 Centuries of Christian Spirituality in 20 Minutes?

Spiritual maturity is important to Christians, so they have always sought to understand spirituality.
Christian formation has to do with how we cooperate with God in our own personal transformation and quest for spiritual maturity. Christians have always, since the days Jesus walked with His disciples, engaged in spiritual formation.
Later, after Jesus ascended into heaven, and as the Church matured in the following centuries, there was also a maturing of devotional practice. What was done individually and privately by believers, was more fully understood and communicated to other believers in future centuries. Spirituality began to be practiced systematically in Christian communities. And over time, a greater understanding and development of spiritual disciplines was identified, written about, and practiced.
The history of that development happened in a series of important events over the last 2000 years—events which inform us even today, and that helps our ability to grow spiritually mature.
One wonders, what were the major developments in how Christians and the church thought about spiritual formation? That’s a long and interesting story that began with Jesus, then began to change in the centuries that followed.

The Desert Fathers (250 AD) –

Before Christianity became the state religion under Constantine, believers were being persecuted and even martyred for their faith.
Christians would pray more, met together more, and meditated more because the physical and spiritual needs were great during the time of persecution.
Once Christianity became the state religion, there was changes that came to the faith. A person was no longer in danger if they believed in Jesus as their Savior. This led to a more relaxed approach to maturity and spiritual disciplines among many.
Also, the state religion started to blend Christianity with their old pagan practices. So there were some men who decided to remove themselves from society and practice spiritual disciplines out in the desert, hence the name Desert Fathers (and Mothers). These men would meet in caves to pray and meditate. Eventually they would form communities in the caves. These people are believed to be the first model of monks and the monastic movement.
Following the Desert Fathers and monastic periods, the next major era of Christian Formation took place during the Protestant Reformation.

Protestant Reformation (1500s) –

One of the monks started to observe how the Church lacked an emphasis of a personal relationship with God in the faith. This monk’s name was Martin Luther. Luther raised issues that he thought the Church had like a distant relationship with the Father, very little guidance from the Spirit, faith by grace, and how an individual is justified. Luther was eventually excommunicated from the Church because of his differences with Catholic Church. He never intended on starting the Lutheran Church, but he stuck to his beliefs and there were those agreed and followed him.
The Reformation continued and matured, ultimately leading to the modern age. The largest movement of the 20th Century was Evangelicalism, birthed from Christian Fundamentalism.

Evangelicalism – (1950s-1960s)

The Evangelical movement was a break off from the fundamentalism in 1950s and 1960s. Evangelicals believed that fundamentalism was becoming legalistic and hard towards the movement of the Spirit. At the core of the Evangelical movement is that the person who believes is born again. Typically, evangelical spirituality has focused on the Word of God and personal discipleship, where people model spiritual maturity and teach people in discipleship settings, with a focus on biblical instruction, content, and application. So the focus in evangelical spiritual formation has especially been centered on the Word of God and on Truth.
A sister movement, within Evangelicalism– but that also became very large in the coming decades, until now, sprang up in the 1960s and beyond.

Charismatic Movement (1960s)-

Charismatic Christians thought spirituality and Christian maturity should be more focused on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, including supernatural actions of the Spirit and certain manifestations they believed to be an ongoing part of the ministry of God’s Spirit. Though this is debated within Evangelicalism, the Charismatic movement is a massive movement in the world and within Christianity, and faith and spirituality among Charismatics ‘looks differently’ than it does in other Evangelical churches and among other evangelical Christians. Charismatic believers emphasize spiritual experiences related to the baptism of the Spirit and what is commonly called “speaking in tongues.” These are, again, understood differently in non-Charismatic evangelical churches, but a great number of Charismatic believers emphasize these experiences. Charismatics focus more on experience and experiential Christianity—than only or primarily on teaching the Word of God and personal discipleship in ways more traditional to other evangelicals.
One of the most recent movements in history concerning spiritual formation focused its efforts towards reforming the heart, with a greater interest in more ancient understandings of Christian spirituality and a variety of devotional exercises called ‘spiritual disciples.’

Spiritual Formation Movement (1970s-1980s)-

In 1970s-80s, there were men like Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and many others who wanted to refocus the discipleship experience of many Christians. The movement was taking place amongst evangelicals so the issue was not about salvation, but the issue was concerning more internally in regards to the heart and the nature of discipleship. This movement focused on what happens internally, in the heart, in the process of spiritual growth. Spiritual formation sought to combat moralism and the tendency toward legalism that some evangelicals had. It also sought to expand the Charismatic understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in the process of discipleship, by integrating sometimes ancient devotional practices to help people understand God’s work in their hearts, in hopes of transforming how believers understand and experience personal discipleship and life change.

Conclusion

That is a basic introduction to the history of Spiritual Formation. These forces did and still do impact Christians and how they think about their faith. At least gaining a basic understanding of these movements will help Christians understand other believers and how they experience God and seek to grow spiritually. Be encouraged to learn more– to expand your understanding of other believers, and also to think about how your relationship with God can become stronger through a stronger appreciation of how fellow believers seek to know God.