Our first day of class was very good. It was a day of getting acquainted with each other (reacquainted with some). The day began with Dr. Jim Scott leading a time of devotion based on John Wesley’s message, The Scripture Way to Salvation.
Our devotional time included a nice time of singing and praying. Lecture and discussion rounded out the remainder of the morning, which was a review of some of the reading we had done prior to this week of
class (in preparation of the work we’ll do this week).
This week, we will develop a “personal transformation plan,” a “personal ministry plan,” and a “church transformation plan.” This is what makes this class more than an academic exercise. We’re not just talking about transformation; were actually seeking transformation and being intentional about developing a plan for transformation in our own lives and in the lives of our churches.
This afternoon, we jumped into this process, beginning with some individual time to work on our “personal transformation plans.” Essentially, this process involves developing a personal strategy for achieving spiritual transformation in our own lives. In order to be pastors and leaders who bring about transformation in our local churches, we must first be transformed ourselves.
After our individual time, we gathered in “quads” (groups of four) to discuss what we had just worked on. This will be our small group for the week. We concluded the day with a video (of a church that went through this type of transformational planning) and some summary discussion.
Here are a few things that I’m thinking about at the end of this first day …
First, I believe that today was foundational for the rest of the week. In other words, we laid the groundwork for the work God will do during the next four days.
Another sense I have is that I “fit” here. I’m not sure I can communicate this very well, but I’ll try. I will never forget our orientation weekend here in January 2004, gathering with about 10 new students, all wondering what we were doing here and feeling that we were in over our heads. Dr. Leslie Andrews, the d.min. director, encouraged us, saying that we were there because they believed in us. I was grateful to hear that, but today, I really gained a new awareness of God’s grace that has brought me to this place. I am humbled and filled with gratitude for God’s goodness and faithfulness!
There is a wonderful sense of community, a sense of community that I’ve never felt in any of my previous classes this early in the week. Usually about the time we obtain this level of community, it’s time to go home. Part of this may be due to my acclimation here and gaining experience here, but this still causes me to be excited about the rest of the week.
Also, the Scotts are extremely gifted teachers. They are very authentic people who genuinely care about people and have a passion for training leaders. The class format has so much variety, and there are so many little thoughtful details that make the class very special! Again, I can only look forward to the next four days.
Finally, I’m grateful for Asbury. The school’s motto is “Where head and heart go hand in hand.” That appears to be so true, based on my experience, so far. The last thing I want is a purely academic experience. I love reading and learning, but if it’s not connected to the “heart religion” that I’m sold out to (i.e. Christianity, the Way of Christ), I don’t want to have anything to do with it. Heartless religion kills!
So, as the first day comes to a close, I am simply grateful for the foundation that was laid today, and look to tomorrow with excitement and anticipation about what God will do throughout the week.