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From Classroom to Congregation The Center for Teaching Churches at McAfee School of Theology

from the Center When we began dreaming of the McAfee School of Theology, we did not try to replicate the seminary experience we once enjoyed. People are not coming to church to figure out what happened to the Jebusites. If they want to know, they find their information online. While I love teaching Greek, we know that our grandchildren may not have that same interest. Though St. Augustine’s Confessions is important to read, convincing the young adult Sunday School class to do the same may be a hard sell. Our new context means that we teach 2000 years of spiritual formation in a culture that tries to communicate in 140 characters. We dreamed of a school that would help ministers know, be, and do the Christian faith for the time in which we live. This requires a closer relationship between seminaries and churches than we have previously experienced. We need each other as we navigate rapid, unprecedented cultural change. McAfee’s Center for Teaching Churches produced this issue, From Classroom to Congregation, to highlight the strong relationship between our seminary classrooms and our churches. We hope that the stories, opportunities and information in these pages will spark new ideas and conversation among us to make our connection between seminary and church stronger still.

Dean R. Alan Culpepper

The McAfee Oak

From an acorn presented by Daniel Vestal at McAfee’s inaugural convocation on October 21, 1997, and planted by the first graduating class on May 7, 1999.

In January 2010 the Center for Teaching Churches began in an office in Day Hall with a desk, a chair, and a computer. Today our offices are not a great deal larger, but we have managed to produce a diversity of material to support our churches. Elsewhere in this publication you will see a listing of our online curriculum learning modules. In early 2014, most of this material will be spotlighted on Atlanta television. The Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters (AIB) asked to produce a series of 30-minute programs with us that showcases our curriculum materials and several of the new ministers who are benefitting from it. You will see Matt Sapp at Wieuca Road Baptist Church, Lindsey Richardson at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Barrett Owen at National Heights Baptist Church, Terry Ladd at First Baptist Church of Chattanooga (Eighth Street), and others in this AIB series sharing how their ministries have been enriched through the work of the Center for Teaching Churches. In addition, some of these programs will feature McAfee faculty. Daniel Vestal talks about leadership. Loyd Allen speaks about spirituality. Dock Hollingsworth addresses contextual ministry. Dean Culpepper offers thoughts on how the Center for Teaching Churches began. The Center for Teaching Churches takes its mission to the churches of Georgia and the Southeast seriously. Our Transition in Ministry program is working with 29 recent McAfee graduates who are serving churches in seven states. We believe this is just the beginning. More and more congregations wish to know what they can do to become Teaching Churches. If your church wants to know more about the Center, or become involved with us, please contact me. It is our pleasure to offer resources and support to our churches anytime! Dr. Ron Grizzle, Director of the Center for Teaching Churches 678-547-6479

Dr. Grizzle with his daughters Audrey, Ashley and Amy

What is the Center for Teaching Churches? The CTC nurtures and strengthens the local church by partnering with its ministers and members and identifying the best practices and the emerging needs in our network of churches. As a result we equip leaders, ministers and churches to access these practices and address these needs. We include the full range of churches that send us students and the churches that our graduates serve. We advocate for values, benefits and resources related to the teaching church and create a shared vision for sustaining effective leadership in and with the local church.


In addition to partnering with the 29 Teaching Churches in our Transition in Ministry program, we also work with the Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership and the CBF of GA to assist the developing Baptist Deacon Network. The Center contributed leadership and resources for the initial Deacon Summit at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia in April 2013. CTC is actively involved with the BDN task force in shaping resources to enrich deacon ministry. The Center is also working with CBF National to make materials from the annual Mercer Preaching Consultation available to CBF Peer Learning groups.



We engage and facilitate intentional conversations between faculty, ministers and congregations to discover effective practices in ministry, as well as emerging needs among churches. Through interviews, surveys, periodic gatherings and visits, we strive to stay connected. Once we identify effective practices we find ways to communicate these and distribute information about them. AIB is a helpful partner in this process. This year we interviewed Truett Gannon in the AIB studio about what makes ministry effective. This video will be part of AIB’s Spiritual Journey series at a future date. We also share and invest our resources with congregations in order to identify and develop effective teaching practices.


CTC continues to develop resources and make them available for churches. The CTC curriculum for Teaching Churches is available to all interested churches through the Center’s website at This curriculum includes twelve learning modules that covering a variety of themes, including conflict ministry, time management, and communication. (For a complete list of this curriculum, see page 34.) In addition a video series that highlights each module will begin showing on AIB in 2014. (For more information, see Ron Grizzle’s article on page 3.) Also accessible through the Center’s website are Truett Gannon’s Ministry Manuals on Weddings and Funerals. The CTC produced a manuscript collection from the 2011 Mercer Preaching Consultation and helped produce DVDs and thumb drives containing video presentations and manuscripts from the 2012 Preaching Consultation.


The Center offers opportunities for clergy, laity and seminary faculty to connect through regional meetings, such as McAfee Day at Central Baptist Church in Bearden, Tennessee with area ministers. Matt Duvall led the group in reflecting on Scripture; Ron Grizzle described CTC’s services; Dock Hollingsworth taught churches how to “fight fair;” and Brett Younger offered sessions on “Preaching with Imagination” and “Preaching that Keeps the Preacher’s Soul Alive.” The next regional meeting in 2014 will be at Mountain Brook Baptist in Birmingham.


We introduced the work of the CTC on a national level at the CBF General Assembly 2013 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Frank Granger and Carol Younger led a breakout session on the Teaching Church concept and its value by engaging participants in the “Conflict Ministry and the Teaching Church” module. Ron Grizzle will introduce the work of the Center at a CTC-sponsored Advocates Luncheon at the CBF of GA 2013 Assembly in Augusta.


We have 29 current congregations engaged as a Teaching Church with the Center. New ministers in the Transition in Ministry Program receive a ministry coach who offers monthly conversation, a minister support committee consisting of members of the church, and a peer learning support group of fellow ministers. This year we added five churches that are representative of our reach beyond Georgia: St. Andrews Baptist, Columbia, SC; First Baptist, Laurens, SC; Kirkwood Bapitst, St. Louis, MO; First Baptist, Fort Payne, AL; Trinity Baptist, Madison, AL. The Center also has an Advisory Board consisting of laity and clergy.


Seminary in Haiku: Know, Be, Do The first day of class I have made a huge mistake I don’t belong here

CPE begins Scottish Rite Hospital booms with traumas and deaths

In those two words lie three years of seminary Listening for soul

Form criticism What? The big fish isn’t real? This is getting weird

I’m paged out of sleep Deep sleep that I really need “Come, a mom needs you”

Find and give meaning In last breaths of a baby And in healing hands

No WAY will I preach Actually, this is fun I will always preach

Up the stairs and then down the hall and to the left Mother sits and cries

Each encounter brings to mind a certain set of skills Each learned in a class

This is getting good My classes teach me so much Seminary wins

Know, be do and then do it all over again Know be do, you can

Wind down the school year Nostalgic and excited For what lies ahead

I sit in silence This dark night is wrought with pain Pastoral presence

Ready because I have McAfee to thank for helping me get here I am a chaplain I sit, I listen, I love, I reflect and then I know, I am, I do, and then I do it over and again.

_Sara Robb MDiv 2013 Chaplain Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta


What Do We Need to Know in

Classrooms & Congregations?

Between college graduation and my first day of seminary, I was a summer youth minister. When I arrived at the church for the first day, I could describe in detail what the next three months would look like. I had full calendars ready to send out and sign-up sheets waiting to be filled. I had session plans that were sure to make Bible study a crowd favorite. Our mission projects would be life-changing. Summer looked amazing on paper. Then I met the youth group for the first time. By mid-week I had reworked the calendar and adapted our Bible studies. The sign-up sheets for our four mission projects contained a few names, but the beach retreat list for mission participants needed a second page. By the end of week one, I had no idea what the summer was going to look like. I just knew I had much to learn about ministry. Our preparation for ministry and our context for ministry need to inform each other. The Center for Teaching Churches knows that what we learn in the seminary classroom and what we learn in the church are significant for both. From Classroom to Congregation tells about students who took an idea that they received in a McAfee course and tried it in congregational ministry. We hope that these stories encourage other seminary students as they look for effective ways to share with churches what they learn in the classroom. We also hope that these stories encourage faculty as they consider how their disciplines address the questions, experiences and discussions taking place within congregations. We particularly want this publication to encourage churches in their teaching ministries and invite them to join the growing conversation about what it means to be a teaching church. What we need to know in classrooms and congregations is that we need each other. _Carol Davis Younger Writer/Editor Center for Teaching Churches


Faith Development 7

What ideas from your seminary classroom became ministry opportunities, programs or practices in your congregation?

In Dr. Karen Massey’s worship course, we created and performed services for the class which included communion. I’ve used the creative communion services many times in my church setting, introducing the congregation, particularly youth, to a variety of ways to take and talk about it.

I’ve used curriculum written for both David Garber’s Old Testament class and Karen Massey’s Faith Development class in my ministry, adding to and recreating parts of it. I created an entire year of Theater and Theology discussions that my youth participate in weekly from ideas I received in Dr. Graham Walker’s Reel Spirituality class.

_Carra Hughes Greer Minister to Families with Youth Smoke Rise Baptist Church


From the Classroom McAfee students take a variety of classes that teach them to interpret scripture responsibly, preach prophetically, lead groups effectively, and think about God more deeply. One of these classes is the Faith Development course that I teach. The purpose of this class is to help students better understand the developmental and spiritual needs of those to whom they minister. Such understanding places priority on persons rather than programs, and it provides ministers with essential information that helps them teach, preach, care, and nurture appropriately. Here are some examples of what students learn in my class: • The primary developmental need of infants is that of being cared for when they are hungry, sleepy, cold, or wet. If infants are cared for consistently and lovingly, they learn to trust in the people who care for them. Trust is foundational to faith formation and, when infants learn to trust in people they can see, it becomes easier for them as they grow to trust in a God they cannot see. • The greatest faith need of young children is to belong. Children want to feel included and welcomed in the church, but too often the church excludes them from participating in worship and communion because they believe that the children are too young or don’t understand. Children best learn the practices of faith by participating and watching the adults around them. Therefore, children learn to practice their faith before they learn to verbalize their faith. • Teenagers develop the ability to think abstractly. They are capable of critical reflection and conceptual thinking. Therefore, they are able to think more deeply about faith, God, and scripture. In order for their faith to grow, teenagers must be encouraged to ask questions, think beyond simplistic answers to difficult issues, and be open to new ways that God, scripture, and faith speak to their roller coaster lives. As students become familiar with the developmental and spiritual needs of different age groups, I encourage them to keep the following questions in mind: How do these needs inform the ways in which you will minister to people? How do these needs inform the types of programs and ministries that will be most effective for nurturing faith in people? How do these needs suggest ways of nurturing faith in persons that may be differ from the ways the Church has traditionally done so? I often tell my students that faith formation is serious business. As ministers who deal with the spiritual lives of people, we can do great good or great harm. Because of this, letting the needs and life experiences of people guide our ministries is imperative. Of all that we ministers are called to do, nurturing and growing faithful Christians should be our most passionate priority.

_Karen Massey Associate Dean and Assoc.Prof. of Faith Development


To the Congregation As a seminary student called to Children’s Ministry, I paid particular attention to anything that concerned children. Faith Development was formative for me. In that course, I learned that children need to feel included, to feel like they are a part of the church and to feel loved. Children who feel included in the church at a young age grow up knowing that they have a place there and in the kingdom of God. They are less likely to walk away from the church and from their faith if they feel like they belong. Now that I am a minister, I have been able to apply what I learned in classes like Faith Development to the work I do. My hope is that the children I serve will know that they belong and that they are loved by our congregation and, most importantly, by God. So during my first Family Christmas Eve as the Children’s Minister at First Baptist Church of Roswell, Georgia, I tried something new. I gave the children communion…and they loved it! During our Christmas Eve service, the children came to the stage, where a “shepherd” (our pastor) told them the story of what the shepherds saw when they came to Bethlehem. After this, the children remained seated on the stage to prepare for communion. As the adults received their bread, each child was given a salty pretzel to remind them of the tears Jesus cried. The children held their pretzels until it was time for everyone to partake of the body of Christ. Afterwards, they were given white grape juice while the adults were served. When it was time, everyone drank their juice to remember the life that Jesus gives us. The children then sat with their families as we continued to worship. Our children were a vital part of this Family Christmas Eve service. Not only were they present, they participated in a way they never had before. They learned what communion was and they tasted it. They were included and they belonged. Before the service, several parents told me how excited their children were to be able to participate. One parent told me that her child always asks her at communion why she cannot be part, because, as her child put it, “I love Jesus too.” After the service, parents of both young children and grown ones told me how meaningful the experience was for them. Was our experience of having the children participate in communion perfect? No, it wasn’t. I had called it a “Time of Remembrance” and one parent mistakenly thought we were remembering Sandy Hook Elementary at the Christmas Eve service, which we were not. One child drank his juice too soon, there was a spill, and one little boy played with his cars during communion. But the children participated. We included them in remembering who Jesus is, and they were a welcomed part of our community as we shared communion together.

_Jessica Asbell Minister to Children FBC Roswell, GA


Curriculum & Pedagogy


What ideas from your seminary classroom became ministry opportunities, programs or practices in your congregation?

We did our Summer Church School series on “The Future of Faith in a Changing World.” McAfee professors Nash, Garber, McSwain joined me to talk about the future of faith in America and the world. As the world changes, many faith communities are struggling to understand and adapt to a shifting culture. We discussed what these shifts are and how they impact churches. We also addressed what the Bible has to say and how we navigate this unprecedented change. Drs. Gushee and McSwain taught some of this in one of my seminar classes.

_Mike Gregg DMin Candidate Minister of Educational Life Northside Drive Baptist Church


From the Classroom I love teaching at church. For the past seven years I’ve been able to teach both youth and adults. Although I considered myself adequate for the task, I’ve always felt that I could be better at it, because no one ever taught me how to teach. “Learn from your mistakes as you go along” was my selftaught educational process, until I registered for the elective Church Pedagogy and Curriculum Development. Dr. Anna Brown is a fantastic teacher. One of the greatest things I took away from the course was learning that using simple items and resources can deliver the most powerful gospel message. There were many days when Dr. Brown set up different stations around the classroom with such objects as play doh, Hot Wheels cars, children’s books, world maps, color markers, random magazine pictures and various types of candy. When I first saw these things I thought, “I’m twenty-four-years-old, so why am I about to play with toys?” To my astonishment, by the end of the class, I found myself playing with those “toys” like I was four instead of twenty-four. But not only was I playing with them, I was learning from them. The instructions Dr. Brown gave us concerning each item enabled me to spiritually engage with the items, whether this meant picturing God’s grace by making a play doh figure, or feeling God’s love by painting a picture. One Wednesday night during Bible study, I decided to set up my own stations to see how my youth would react. They were used to sitting and listening to my lecture-style lesson, so I knew this would catch them off guard. I was a little scared that they wouldn’t like or understand the session, but they caught on. In fact, they were more engaged than I had ever seen them in a Bible study. From that day forward, I’ve adjusted my teaching style. In addition to verbal action through speaking and listening, our sessions now include more physical action. I incorporate stations and tie creative games, both indoor and outdoor ones, to the biblical lesson. Dr. Brown’s template on how to organize a lesson plan was another great tool I took from the class. Every time I teach our Youth Church on second Sundays this helps me divide the lesson into five timed segments and pushes me as a teacher to create three solid learning objectives for students. In all seminary classes we learn things that benefit us in whatever ministry we will enter after we graduate. Some classes give us tools we can put to immediate use in our current ministries. Dr. Anna Brown’s Church Pedagogy and Curriculum Development was that class for me last spring.

_Wesley Thompson MDiv 2014


To the Congregation Every January I look forward to Disciple Now weekend, an opportunity I have to return to my home church, First Baptist of Knoxville, TN, to teach youth I have seen grow up in front of me. This year I was most excited about teaching the High School girls, a group that likes their faith to be challenged, pushed and pulled. They love learning and questioning new things. The theme for the weekend was prayer. As I looked over the curriculum I received, ideas and activities that I learned in my youth ministry class kept popping into my head. I was excited to be learning practical material in the classroom that prepared me to teach the youth. To help the group focus on prayer, I used prayer stations and Lectio Divina with the students. The youth ministry class I took with Dr. Anna Brown prepared me to implement the session. I had never been as eager to teach a group of students, who rotated through six stations that included: body prayer, using play-doh, praying for different parts of the world, writing prayers and using a Scrabble board to create words describing God. I was nervous about how they might react to doing the lesson this way, and whether it would push them too far from their comfort zone. On the other hand, pushing them out of their norm was thrilling. As I described what they would be doing, I told them they would not be sitting and listening to me, they would be listening for what God was telling them. They seemed ready to get started, and spent more time in the stations than I expected. At the end of the experience we made prayer bracelets together to help the girls remember what they had learned about prayer on the retreat. In our debriefing time, the group discussed how much they loved learning about prayer in this way, and how the activities touched them. Annie Pickle, a senior who had attended seven Disciple Now weekends described the prayer stations as her favorite activities. “I loved the unique opportunity it gave us to be able to visualize our prayers instead of simply stating them in our minds where it is easy for our thoughts to wander away from the purpose of prayer,� she said. The positive feedback from my students made all the study and stress of school worth it. Being able to take what I learned in the classroom and implement it in my own teaching setting was rewarding. This experience is another reason why I believe McAfee is fully preparing me for ministry.

_Megan Turner MDiv 2014


Spiritual Formation 15


Might we strengthen our congregations by helping our members find the sacred places in our churches, then teaching them to be fully and prayerfully present in those places? Doing so could rekindle sacred memories and hallow the places on earth where we minister.

� _Loyd Allen


Making a Pilgrimage Where We Live In 686 AD the plague killed every monk at Britain’s Jarrow Monastery save two, the abbot and a young boy about fourteen years old. These two determined to carry on the daily prayer services in the monastery’s small Saxon sanctuary. The boy was almost certainly the Venerable Bede, who became a Doctor of the Church and the father of English history. Christian worship services have continued regularly in that church that is dedicated to St. Paul, for over 1300 years now. In the summer of 2012, in that little church built of stones from Hadrian’s Wall, I sat in that little church built of stones from Hadrian’s Wall alongside others on a Celtic pilgrimage. The minister of the church asked one of our pilgrims who was sitting in the second choir stall on the right to look down at his feet and tell us what was different about his particular spot. Our pilgrim said, “Well, the carpet is worn out here.” “That’s the place where Bede would have sat as he and Bishop Ceolfrith held services alone after the plague,” the minister replied. “People like to sit where such faith on earth was present.” Pilgrimage is a spiritual discipline of journeying to sacred places in order to be physically present where God has acted through ordinary people and events in a particularly clear manner. In these “thin places,” pilgrims who make themselves fully present to the sacred in creation often experience the Divine Presence in an especially deep and personal way. Pilgrimage is prayer, similar to lectio divina (sacred reading) and the spiritual discipline that is most like Protestants’ quiet time. Lectio’s four steps are: read a biblical text, reflect on it, respond


prayerfully to what you receive, and rest in the presence of God who speaks through scripture. The goal of this type of disciplined prayer is to allow the text to enter you, then to enter the text and respond to what finds you there. Pilgrimage is a sacred reading of holy places that are associated with God’s activity in time and space. Pilgrims learn the story of the sacred place, go to it and become fully and prayerfully present in it. They put their cameras down and respond to whatever is given in the moment, resting quietly in the embrace of the One who may choose to be known there. Most every building has some sacred spot within it, for most churches have been hallowed by the sincere prayers and intentions of godly people. Of course, much happens within church buildings that is neither prayerful nor godly, but rare is the church that has not had some faithful Christian—what Glenn Hinson calls “an ordinary saint”—whose life and actions made the space a “thin place” for others. The sacred places in a church may differ from person to person. The baptismal font at the Lutheran Church of the Nativity in Austell, Georgia, is such a place for me. My daughter Clare placed her newborn infant, Elijah, with adoptive parents who are members in that church. When they baptized my grandson there, they invited our family to the service. As the adoptive mother, Zoe, rose to take Elijah to the priest for baptism, she gestured to my daughter to come with her. She then placed Elijah in Clare’s arms. As we read the baptismal vows, I was overwhelmed with this gesture of hospitality. Surely God was in this place and I had not known it. What

places are sacred to your church, and why? When a group of pastors I led on a 2010 pilgrimage to Israel returned, they continued to meet together regularly at their respective churches. They continued their pilgrimage together by asking the host pastor of each month’s meeting to lead them on pilgrimage on his or her church grounds. The leader would take us through the church, showing us the places the minister considered sacred there. From the pew where the aged African-American woman sat who helped found a faithful, integrated Southern Baptist church in the turbulent 1960s to the room in another church where an innovative children’s education ministry is renewing hope, we heard the stories of God’s work in those places. We would then sit or stand quietly in these “thin places” in order to be fully present to the One revealed in such lives and actions. We prayed for ourselves, for the church, and for the community it served. Lastly, we would gather around the church’s minister, lay hands on him or her, and pray for the future work of that leader and congregation. Centuries of prayer have hallowed traditional pilgrimage places. Might we strengthen our congregations by helping our members find the sacred places in our churches, then teaching them to be fully and prayerfully present in those places? Doing so could rekindle sacred memories and hallow the places on earth where we minister. My church, Parkway Baptist in Duluth, Georgia, has done something similar to this twice. During prayer days at the church, individuals silently moved from room to room, praying for those who served in each place. Perhaps the spiritual discipline of pilgrimage can make our prayer more specific, intentional, and incarnate. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” _Loyd Allen Professor of Spiritual Formation





The Center for Teaching Churches at McAfee knows that planting our ministers with care leads to abundant growth. We transplant new callings from the classroom to the congregation with an understanding of what it takes to do that well. The Transition in Ministry Program involves the following:

1. A Center-based coach/mentor who helps new ministers address the stresses of ministry through monthly conversation.

2. Committment to a two-year relationship

with the new minister, the Teaching Church that called the minister, and the Center for Teaching Churches.

3. A curriculum to guide the minister and

the congregation through the transition process.

4. A minister support committee within the congregation.

5. A peer support group of fellow ministers.

Contact the Center to become a Teaching Church


From the Classroom

An excerpt from Denise Massey’s book in progress, The Coaching Minister: Guiding the Spiritual Journey

I am in a unique position to integrate life coaching with pastoral care. While my primary work is as a seminary professor of pastoral care and counseling, I am also a coach. In my coaching, I assist people in a three-part process: 1) to discover their true goals and priorities, 2) to tap into their motivation and resources for change (even resources they didn’t know they possessed), and 3) to take practical steps in everyday life toward their desired change. My experiences in being trained and working as a coach convinced me that bringing the knowledge and skills of coaching into dialogue with the knowledge and skills of ministry will make the work of ministry easier and more fulfilling. My colleagues in ministry who participated in coach training with me have testified that the methods and processes of coaching have assisted them in everything from leading committee meetings to doing pre-marital counseling. Having conversations that more easily and effectively facilitate change was for me the most rewarding aspect of becoming a coaching minister. A primary task of the minister is to address the spiritual needs of persons. This ministry by definition means facilitating improvement in their relationships with themselves, other people, and the Divine. Coaching is useful for this work precisely because coaches assist people to move from where they are to where they want to be. Coaching is about facilitating change and growth through purposeful conversations. This book will explore the skills and processes of coaching conversations that facilitate growth, change and transformation. It will also offer case studies and examples that illuminate and add to the theory and skills presented. Developing your skills, learning a predictable process of structuring conversations to lead to change, and following the experiences of others will make you a better coach for change. In England, a “coach” is a mode of transportation. In the American West, a “stagecoach,” was a vehicle that people used to travel to new frontiers. Likewise, conversational coaching is a skill that helps people move from where they are to where they want to be. This is a metaphor that people who do life coaching for a living utilize regularly. Being able to efficiently and effectively help people travel from where they are to where they long to be is a tremendously useful skill that ministers can master. Coaching ministers can gracefully and effectively help people travel to new frontiers in their lives. Helping people close the gap between where they are and where they want to be is a metaphor I use in my coaching work. It is an equally effective image for my work as a ministry supervisor and as a teacher and preacher. In my ministry, “closing the gap” is often explicitly about making changes in spiritual aspects of life. At other times, I help persons remember or discover their spiritual resources that will help them make the changes they seek. _Denise Massey Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling


To the Congregation I’m approaching the 25-year milestone of full-time Christian ministry. I haven’t seen it all.  I haven’t experienced it all, but I know my way around pulpits, hospitals, studies, funerals, weddings, deacons’ meetings, potluck suppers, and Vacation Bible Schools.  And that’s just the problem.  Familiarity breeds a kind of “smugness,” an overconfidence that’s bound to create problems. Have you ever noticed that you can’t tell much to a person who knows everything?  I have learned a lot in 25 years of ministry, but I don’t know it all.  In fact, the longer I spend in ministry, the more I understand why the Apostle Paul said, “We see through a glass, darkly.” What I have concluded is that when we find a wise soul who will sit and share our journey, someone who will coach us through some difficult stretches, listen for where we find joy and steer us towards more of that, not only are we better for it, but so are those to whom we minister. Two members of my staff, Rev. Justin Safely and Rev. Erica Cooper, both graduates from McAfee School of Theology, are part of the Transition in Ministry Program through the Center for Teaching Churches.  I noticed how they looked forward to their conversations with their coaches each month.  They received needed affirmation, and additional confidence for decisions they were making.  They found a place in which to voice frustrations, ask questions, and report accomplishments.  Their coaches knew the right questions to ask them, which is a coach’s most important tool. After watching the benefits that coaching brought Erica and Justin, I found a coach of my own.  “Pride goes before destruction,” says Proverbs 16:18.  Why be too proud to ask for help?  I realize that having a coach will not keep me from making mistakes.  However, like my favorite tennis partner, he recognizes some of my weaknesses and helps me overcome them.  I hope he can keep me from making some unforced errors, and help me with my service and my gamesmanship. After our time together I return to my parish encouraged, wiser, and better prepared to meet the demands that are placed on me as a pastor.  It seems that the demands only grow as the years go by.  I think I need a coach now as much as I did when I started ministry.  What about you?

_Michael Helms Teaching Churches pastor First Baptist Church, Jefferson, GA


Missional Theology 23

What ideas from your seminary classroom became ministry opportunities, programs or practices in your congregation?

I’ve used William Paul Jones’ Theological Worlds Inventory and the Worlds Within a Congregation text from Dr. Walker’s Theology course. I used it on a women’s retreat with all the women of our church, ages 18-98. We spent four sessions looking at the inventory and explaining it, filling it out, talking about what it meant personally and applying it to what it meant for our church. We talked about what it said about us as a church family and how we could minister to all worlds... and help all worlds exist together.

By the end I think everyone found it to be a helpful and enlightening experience. People most enjoyed seeing how they were placed in worlds with persons they may have claimed to have had nothing in common with before, then discussing with others in their worlds the challenges, difficulties, and blessings of living in such a way. It provided good, healthy self-reflection expanded into a broader context that sought to help the church as a whole.

_ Lauren Colwell Associate Minister for Spiritual Formation and Families First Baptist Church, Savannah, GA


From the Classroom We live at a powerful moment in the history of the church. It is a moment in which revolutions in technology and transportation coupled with enormous affluence in the church enable American followers of Jesus to travel the world to share the gospel and transform the lives of marginalized peoples. In my mission classes at McAfee I refer to this time as the “whee” moment. For the last 200 years we have been slowly climbing up the back side of the roller coaster. US churches sent thousands of missionaries into the world who shared the good news of the gospel in difficult and challenging contexts. In many places, they were among the first Christians to ever set foot in a country or among a people. They labored at a great cost to themselves and their families. Churches, denominations, hospitals, colleges and universities, and other institutions followed in their wake. A global church emerged. At some point in the 1980s, the tide shifted and huge numbers of US churches began to engage the world on mission. It has been a huge transformation—and a terribly exciting one. I call it the “whee” moment because for me it represents that point at the top of the roller coaster when we come over the top and begin the downward descent. Our tendency is to throw our hands up in the air and scream “Whee” at the top of our lungs. The journey is just so much fun. And yet we have so much to learn—for the reality is that, all too often, we are convinced that we know what God wants to accomplish in that place to which we go. We enter with the best of intentions. We want to do good and we want to do good in the name of Jesus. We wear t-shirts with maps that indicate an arrow pointing from somewhere in the heart of the Deep South to a place deep in the heart of Central or South America or eastern Europe or Africa. The t-shirt’s caption reads, “Taking Jesus from here (Deep South) to here (Nigeria, Guatemala, Chile, or Romania).” Nothing could be further from the truth. It is this awareness that enabled Lesley-Ann to minister together with a group of women in Arica, Chile in ways that transformed her life and theirs. She says it best, “We travel without an agenda.” Exactly. When we do this work of mission and ministry well, we enter into a context with absolutely no idea of what we should be doing. How could it be otherwise? When it comes to global mission, we generally aren’t from the place to which God calls us. We’ve never been there before. We have absolutely no idea what God is doing there. One absolute conviction ought to drive us. This is the conviction that God has been at work long before we arrived and that God will be at work long after we are gone. We are simply stepping into the divine stream, allowing ourselves to move with its currents and negotiate our way around rocks and rapids in the company of the people that we find there, who generally have a much better idea of what God is doing than we could ever possibly have. And the truth of the matter is that such an understanding of mission and ministry is absolutely essential, whether we find ourselves in Arica, Chile or somewhere in the Deep South in that place we call home. _Rob Nash Professor of Missions and World Religions


To the Congregation When I went to Arica, Chile, where Blake and Bekah Hart served, I knew I had a lot to learn. A challenge of mission work, as we discussed in missiology classes, is knowing the foreign context well enough to minister in the most appropriate ways possible. We do not travel to another country to impose our ideas and agenda on that particular community. Our ideas are part of the culture we carry with us. We travel to discover what others carry with them. We travel to support, to work alongside those who already minister there. We outsiders travel to observe, and hopefully help identify injustices. We travel to join a healing process. As I settled into Arica, I looked for places where people experienced community. I asked, “What does it mean to be church? How do we appropriately do church in this context?” As the minister to young adults with the Tercera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Esperanza, I lived with these questions. I got to know the women in our church’s community. I went door-to-door inviting them to a Bible study group we hoped to start. For two weeks there were only three of us, but we grew to six. Counting the little ones running around, we were a group of ten. We focused on women of the Bible, and I brought conversation questions. We always prayed. Some weeks they taught me to cook or dance. Sometimes I asked them to draw pictures of our story. Their perspectives were always unfamiliar to me. As I asked them questions, they asked me questions. We got to know each other, and the Bible, in new ways. Eventually, these women became a church for each other. This was where they discussed how to genuinely live out their faith. Our study on Eve ended up being a pep rally about how smart women can be. Sarah and Hagar opened painful wounds for them, as they discussed the hopelessness of rape and anger over infertility. Deborah’s wisdom and leadership were gifts they hoped to uncover in themselves. They learned who was good at reading scripture aloud and who would remind us to stay on task. I even saw them so engaged in conversation about the text that they hardly noticed their children pulling on their sleeves. Their shared concerns broke down the boundaries of what I understood to be acceptable prayer requests, and we prayed constantly. We were together the night one of our women was giving birth, so we sat together, praying fervently, until we received word, and pictures, of the baby girl Valentina (which means “brave,” one of them made sure I knew). The next week we passed Valentina around and discussed Jesus’ mom, Mary. In this church community they found true, safe space to talk, become and share community they had not found within other church walls. This little church challenged me to always listen for God at work. Hearing what God says,and understanding where God speaks is not easy, but when we become church with the oppressed, immersing ourselves in their context and story, we find life. The women taught me that church thrives in the faith of the oppressed, where committed, empowering relationships leads to transformation and stronger faith. The point of mission work, then, is to journey, without any agenda. Humility is also essential. We learn that mission work is incredibly particular to its context, beautifully creative, organic, new and peculiar. Mission work challenges us to be especially observant and careful with our words in order to see what needs addressing and where God is working. Accepting this challenge leads us to a sacred space where church can grow. _Lesley-Ann Hix MDiv 2014


Ministry of Writing


The Ministry of Writing course started with the question, “What do ministers spend time doing that is not covered in other seminary classes?” Thoughtful ministers spend a significant amount of time as writers. This is a good gift from God, because for many of us writing is the most critical spiritual discipline. We write in order to become better ministers, retain our sanity, and pray. We sit in front of a sheet of paper or a computer screen, writing and discussing with God what we think. As we do that, new thoughts emerge and lead us down paths we did not plan to follow. We learn what we believe from the ministry of writing.

_Brett Younger


From the Classroom From an interview with Jeremy Samples for Reflections: A Daily Devotional Guide

You recently taught a class called “The Ministry of Writing� at McAfee School of Theology. Can you tell us how this class came about? Our faculty is always looking for new courses to fill the holes in what most think of as the normal seminary curriculum. I loved the school I attended, but one of the gaps in my education was any kind of focus on writing. And as I learned after school, a minister does a tremendous amount of writing. My goal in this course was to teach what I wish I had learned as a student. What importance does writing play in ministry today? From the moment St. Paul decided to send a letter, effective writing has been a key to effective ministry. New forms of media make writing even more crucial. Good ministers need to write well. As a writer, what do you know today that you wish you had known fifteen years ago? For a long time I felt guilty because I was mostly unsuccessful in fitting the patterns of prayer I was taught growing up. It took me years to understand that I am one of those people who prays best with a pen in my hand. What were the goals of your writing class at McAfee? This sounds idealistic, but the hope of every class is to help students grow as followers of Christ. Many of us discover what we believe through writing. The goal of the course was to learn to write clearly and honestly from the depths of faith.


_Dr. Brett Younger Assoc. Prof. of Preaching

To the Congregation McAfee made me a better Christian, minister, student, and most importantly, writer. The Ministry of Writing was one of the most practical courses that I took. I discovered that newsletters, that horribly regular informational brochure that every church publishes, can be used for spiritual growth within the congregation. The newsletter, and all other writing for that matter, can do more than just provide details and dates that congregates need to know. It can also provide spiritual truths that shape our faith throughout the week. Writing is a part of my job that I really enjoy. The importance of writing in ministry becomes clear when we see the wide spectrum of writing opportunities we have available to make an impact: newsletters, sermons, blogs, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, letters of encouragement, thanks, and condolences, text messages, and articles for the Center for Teaching Churches, to name a few. These platforms give us a place to creatively offer Kingdom-inspired words. We share the good news of Jesus not only by the actions we live or the words we speak, but through the words we write. If you do not take the opportunity to write (shame on you), use Instagram or SnapChat pictures to speak 1000 words for Christ. The magnitude of God’s kingdom allows for creative license so be creative in how you share your faith experience with others. “Streetlights and Jesus,” and “ABCDo” are two of my newsletter columns that received the most feedback from church members who are not normally part of my daily ministry. My favorite article, written for other colleagues in ministry was “Santa Before Sex,” based on an experience that led to my asking a fellow minister in my peer group, “How am I supposed to talk to students about sex when their parents haven’t talked to them about Santa yet?” Writing helped me process a valuable lesson. Dr. Younger taught me that even the areas of my ministry which are always at the bottom of my “to do” lists can become avenues of spiritual growth for myself and others. Find areas in your ministry that seem burdensome and discover new ways to experience Christ and use your prophetic voice through them.

_Justin Safley MDiv 2010 Associate Pastor First Baptist Church, Jefferson, GA


When we look for the dreams that you most want us to pursue, May we taste your living water, O God. When our days are full, and our energy is spent, May we taste your living water, O God. When we long for community, and communion with you, May we taste your living water, O God. When the landscape is dry, and we thirst for hope, May we taste your living water, O God. When we pour out our lives, remind us that you pour out your Spirit to fill your people, May we taste your living water, O God.

A Litany of Hope 31

To the Congregation It all started, with puppets. Brown paper bag puppets. We were talking about the calling of the disciples in the six-year-old Sunday School class. In an attempt to invite participation in the Bible story while simultaneously including visual or tactile elements in the lesson, I decided we would make disciple puppets. All was going well. Everyone was participating, my co-teacher and I were cutting string for hair, the two girls decided they would make girl disciples, which I encouraged with pride, thinking of our Faith Development class. And then it happened. Seemingly from nowhere, a chant arose from the male end of the table. The chanting of a word distinctively, physically male. Despite all my training, I was flustered. What do you do when your students chant anatomy at the top of their lungs? I quickly went through all of my training: don’t tell them it is a bad word. Don’t suggest their bodies are bad. Don’t say we can’t talk about our bodies in church. Docetic theology flashed through my head. I tore through the many things seminary and Sunday School training had told me. Nothing. I had nothing. All I could remember was what not to do. A quick look at the door, and I thought about running. I tried to quiet them, tell them we weren’t chanting right now, offer them orange hair for their disciples. But they would not be deterred. They refused my redirection and took up crayons in protest. Before I could stop the madness, the disciples had become anatomically correct. That was the end for me. I resorted to the staple “Do what I say or I take the toy away” tactic and gathered the kids in a circle for the Bible story. I tried to muster some enthusiasm for an extremely long and abstract story where Jesus proclaims that those who love God are his true mother, brothers, and sisters. I was already grumpy about my inability to handle the puppets issue, and now I was trying to make a story that confused even the disciples relatable to six-year-olds! It felt like juggling, trying to keep their attention, explain the story, and translate my theological language into relatable, concrete concepts. My mind was a flurry of activity until a question came like a Kindergarten epiphany. “Wait, so Jesus is my brother?” Somehow, in spite of my flurry, the little boy next to me discovered the deeper truth of Jesus’ words. All I could do was say “Yes. Yes, exactly.” Seminary has taught me a lot about what to do in a classroom: how to prepare, to value the contributions of others regardless of age, to consider cognitive development and multiple intelligences. What it could never prepare me for was anatomy chants or the moment when a little boy realizes that Jesus belongs to him. In all of the training, the planning, the deep theological thinking, I forgot that there are always things we can never prepare for, things we will never be ready to handle. Hopefully, after enough time has passed to make the situation funny, we learn a better way to handle the chaos. Hopefully we accept the inevitability of chaos and release the need to be perfect every time. But hopefully we also learn that there is no better answer to Kindergarten epiphanies than a simple “yes.” There is no better response than awe—awe at how God speaks and what God brings out of the craziness. And in the end, chants and chaos become a welcomed adventure if they help you get to those moments when God turns an unsalvageable situation into holiness. Those are the surprises that make the job a ministry and make the ministry worth it. Holiness is what got me into ministry in the first place. _Heather Burke MDiv 2013 Minister to Children First Baptist Church, Conway, SC


C u r r iworth cu l u m finding online The Teaching Churches curriculum comprises 12 learning modules that take advantage of the real life situation in which new ministers work to deepen his or her knowledge and build on the learning received in the seminary classroom experience. Each of the 12 modules combines a brief Essay with an Action Guide for the Minister Support Committee to use. The Essay, written by an experienced professional in the field, addresses pertinent information that focuses on the particular needs of new ministers in new congregational settings. The Action Guide provides directions and options for using this material. Access these modules at

Leadership by Bill Wilson Pastor’s Financial Calendar by Z. Allen Abbot Effective Coaching by Melissa Clodfelter Pastoral Care by Jim King Spirituality for New Ministers by Loyd Allen Time Management by Joel Snider Conflict Ministry and the Teaching Church by Larry McSwain

Communication: An Interpersonal Interaction by Ron King Congregational Development and Change by Paul A. Baxley Self-Care of the Minister: A Team Effort by Charles Qualls Minister and the Family by Don Flowers and Jane Hull The Teaching Church by C. Franklin Granger

Reference Referral

As McAfee continues to grow, we try to accommodate the ministry situations that present themselves to our alumni. As of May, 2013, we were aware of almost 130 churches in 17 states that are searching for pastors, ministers to children and youth, ministers for spiritual formation, as well as other ministry positions. If your church has a ministry position that you would want our more than 500 alumni to know about, or if you are an alumni of McAfee who is searching for a church ministry position, please notify our office. Our responsibility in Reference and Referral is to communicate to our alumni which churches are looking to fill ministry positions, and to place the resumes of our alumni in the hands of those churches. We are at McAfee to serve you! Contact Ron Grizzle at 678-547-6479.


Gifts for Ministry:

Truett Gannon offers manuals for weddings and funerals Facing their first wedding or funeral makes most new ministers wish they had asked more questions in their practical ministry classes. Because of this universal reaction, Truett Gannon always gives his classes a gift before their courses end. With a mentor’s affectionate care, he hands out Ministry Manuals for weddings and funerals. What about the ministers who never had the opportunity to take Dr. Gannon’s classes? He now offers his Ministry Manuals online, through the Center for Teaching Churches page on the McAfee website. Dr. Gannon culled his manuals from 49 years of experience as a pastor and fifteen years as a seminary professor. He pastored Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, GA, First Baptist Church, Eatonton, GA, First Baptist Church, Avondale Estates, GA, and churches in North Carolina and Louisiana. He is now professor emeritus of ministry experience at McAfee School of Theology.   As of 2012, Dr. Gannon had performed 1,030 weddings.  A unique part of his ministry has been staying in contact with those couples he has married by sending each one a yearly anniversary letter.  He continues to mail about 40 anniversary letters to couples each month, a commitment that characterizes his commitment to pastoral care. In his Manual for Funerals, Dr. Gannon writes:  “I want you to remember and to believe that funerals are moments through which some of our greatest spiritual ministries can and do take place . . . I want you to become comfortably uncomfortable in this ministry.  As grief covered as they are, funerals can give you some of your most memorable ministry moments.  Do not be afraid of them.  Trust in God; be yourself; give yourself to your people.”   The manual gives instruction on all of the details that surround a death and a funeral, from visits to the family to working with a funeral home.  It deals primarily “with the minister’s comprehension and apprehension of spiritual responses to grief.” These Ministry Manuals offer encouragement and guidance to new and seasoned ministers.  The Center for Teaching Churches is grateful to Truett Gannon for sharing his wisdom.  The Center also thanks Katye Parker Snipes who compiled the material in these manuals.

Access Dr. Gannon’s Ministry Manuals here:


The Center for Teaching Churches From Classroom to Congregation Dr. Ron Grizzle, Director Carol Younger, Writer/Editor Lesley-Ann Hix, Designer

From Classroom to Congregation  

The Center for Teaching Churches | McAfee School of Theology

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