What follows is a “working document.” This means that everything in this new program is still being tweaked, including the reading assignments. This cohort is not designed for pastors, missionaries and teachers alone. In fact, my deepest desire is that the group will be a good combination of all kinds of men and women, married and single, clergy and non-clergy, young and old. The more diversity in the group the better the learning experience will likely be since a major focus is experiencing diversity in unity. Every motivated person who wants to become a better leader in following Christ into missional-ecumenism is welcome to apply by contacting me via this blog or on the ACT 3 site.
The course examines the importance of missional theology and how the prayer of Jesus for the unity of all his followers (John 17:20–23) intentionally and directly impacts the work of effective mission. This will be a nine-month cohort seminar for 15-20 active learners. Each learner will enter into a mentoring relationship with their teacher and a prayerful, supporting fellowship with one another. Through this process they will begin to work out ways in which both the individual and the church serve the kingdom of God. This will be done by incarnating the gospel through shared life and the proclamation of the gospel out of the context of relational unity.
Members of a cohort must demonstrate a clear commitment to Jesus and the gospel coupled with a desire to become intentional leaders who will impact others for the purpose of changing the world. Cohort groups will consist of clergy and non-clergy, men and women. Married couples may join together. This course is designed for a rich experience that transcends ethnicity, gender and denominational affiliations.
This is a basic course that has no academic prerequisites except an intense desire to learn and grow in missional-ecumenism. Graduates will be invited to explore other topics in one-time groups which will be less structured; one-day seminars, dialogs, etc. Other more formal programs in missional theology will also be advanced when graduates of this course desire more training beyond this basic one-year program. There are a number of excellent degree and non-degree options that ACT 3 will advance.
Every student must be seriously committed to Christ and the gospel of the kingdom. Before applying for the cohort each learner must read the small book, The Unity Factor: One Lord, One Church, One Mission, by John H. Armstrong. This is essential for the student to understand the basic purpose of the course and provides the reason for why they would desire to spend the time and money to enter into this learning experience.
- To develop a rich understanding of missional theology that considers the origins and development of this school of thought and its subsequent practice.
- To deeply understand John 17 and how the prayer of Jesus for Christian unity specifically impacts the health of the church and its relationship to the kingdom of God.
- To consider the history of the ecumenical movement in the 20th century by asking, “What did it get right and where did it go wrong?”
- To survey new model ecumenism by asking where such models can contribute to a more effective missional strategy.
- To learn how ancient/future paradigms of worship and spiritual formation transform leaders and mission thus advancing the kingdom of God into all cultures.
- To deal with various models of gospel understanding that strongly focus the learner’s heart and life on the love of God and his unconditional grace of forgiveness.
- To develop a working model of personal spiritual growth that is linked directly to the gospel of the kingdom and mission. This model will be intentionally developed so the learner can pursue missional-ecumenism as a lifestyle. The specific context in which the student serves Christ’s kingdom will become the laboratory for praxis.
The cohort group will meet four times during a nine month period. Each session will last seven hours, for a total of 28 class hours. These four meetings will generally begin at 9 a.m. and end by 4 p.m. (A working lunch break will be included.) Participation requires a signed commitment to attend all the four classes and pay a tuition fee of $1,000. You must be willing to contribute to the group with a teachable spirit. An application and interview must be processed before anyone becomes a learner.
The entire course will generally be completed over the course of eight months. Two other evening meetings (2 ½ hours) of the cohort will take place following the second and third class session. Facilitators within the cohort will lead these two meetings. The goal of these meetings is open discussion and specific application of course objectives. Augmented online discussion for the cohort will also supplement this process.
The initial Beta Test version of this course will meet on October 4, December 6, February 7 and April 17 somewhere in the Wheaton (IL) area.
(2) Allen, Roland Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?
(1) Armstrong, John H. Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church
(1) Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Life Together
(2) Danaher, James P. Eyes That See, Ears That Hear: Perceiving Jesus in a Postmodern Context
(3) Gittins, Anthony J. Called to Be Sent: Co-Missioned as Disciples Today
(3) Gittins, Anthony J. Reading the Clouds: Mission Spirituality for New Times
(1) Lawrence, Brother The Practice of the Presence of God (John J. Delaney, translator. Doubleday, 1977)
(3) Newbigin, Lesslie The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission
(2) Newbigin, Lesslie The Household of God
(4) Roxburgh, Alan J. and Romanuk, Fred.
The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World
(4) Van Gelder, Craig and Zscheile, Dwight J.
The Missional Church in Perspective
The (numbers) above refer to text being completed before this session of the cohort meets.
Several smaller articles and popular essays will likely be assigned during the seminar. Some videos will also be watched by the cohort group during the four sessions.
The Cape Town Commitment, a small booklet adopted by the Lausanne Congress in October 2010, will be used throughout the entire process as a contemporary guide for missional-ecuemnical theology and practice. This text should be read before session number one if possible. It is available as a published booklet and online for free at www.lausanne.org/ctcommitment.
If you want to be admitted to a Unity in Christ’s Mission cohort learning experience you must fill out an application form (www.act3online.com) and schedule an interview. If you are accepted you must attend all four sessions as well as the two evening discussions (2 ½ hours) scheduled between sessions two and four. You will be expected to pay $500 upon acceptance and the remaining $500 before the third session convenes. You will pay ACT 3. You will receive a certificate of completion when you complete the course.
Assignments and Requirements
- Students will read the assigned texts before each group meeting and write a 2-page critique of each book. This critique will show that the student has interacted with the author’s thesis.
- Meetings of the class will be at a pre-selected site. Applicants for the seminar will be interviewed and complete an approval process. There will be opportunity for the student and professor to meet face-to-face in each of the four seminar meetings and by any other means as time allows.
- Students must prepare a 15-page final paper, due 45 days after the end of the final session, in which they will show an understanding of spiritual growth and missional-ecumenism and how they will put this understanding into a plan to build a personal, relational network that will advance Christ’s kingdom and his mission through the good news of grace and forgiveness.
If a student would like to take this class for college or seminary credit there are several ways this can be done. Please discuss this with the teacher before enrolling.
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I’ve just finished reading, YOUR CHURCH IS TOO SMALL, and I’m very interested in learning more about missional-ecumenism. However I cannot commit to meeting in IL. Do you foresee a time when classes such as this can be available on line? There are many ways to communicate in real time. One example is a program called “Talk Fusion” which allows for live teacher-student interaction via e-mail. In the meantime, I plan to read the titles required for the course. Sincerely, Barbara