Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Making ThoughtWorks Work

My apologies for the tardiness of this post, I underestimated the amount of preparation required to get to Congress. I plan on sharing some of my thoughts on Congress, especially as it relates to evangelical theology, in a future post. But one of the most amazing aspects of conferences like this is the opportunity for rich conversation - among scholars and with the folks kind enough to open their homes and lives to give us a place to stay. I've been staying for folk from the Refuge Vineyard (Cambridge) and have been really enjoying it.

This conversation though led to one of the reasons for this blog - how can ThoughtWorks work? ThoughtWorks was created to meet a real need in our movement, how do working (read: busy) pastors and leaders continue to be lifelong learners gaining a formation in Vineyard values and theologies? And in meeting this need we have several established responses and are always open to dreaming and considering more. This is an important need - we really value the work that local pastors and leaders do and this is our attempt to resource that crucially important work. We are pastors and leaders looking to serve pastors and leaders.

The first response is our curriculum. I know even the sound of that word is somewhat stiff, however, what we mean by curriculum is more akin to a base for ongoing meaningful training. This curriculum represents what we believe are the basic building blocks essential to effective and healthy ministry within our movement. Moreover, the curriculum is meant to be a starting point. We accomplish this by regularly updating the content. Also, by using a mentoring strategy, we allow you to explore the material with someone else who is committed to your development. You may find that the book we suggest is one you already know, your mentor will be able to suggest similar texts or exercises that might enhance what you have already engaged with. The Vineyard is blessed with a diversity of leaders all with differing levels of theological and pastoral formation. We get that one size does not fit all - which is why we created three years worth of material (but what might, in reality, accompany your formation journey for many more years than that).

One other flexibility we have built into the curriculum is that we are not asking pastors and leaders to provide the academic rigor that many of us simply do not have the time to pursue. We do this, though, without sacrificing depth. The books we suggest and the exercises we provide are meant to let you go deeper with what we hope to be accessible training material.

The second response is our intensives. We have a mandate to provide on the ground (local) theological and pastoral training to equip the Vineyard for the works we believe God has created us to do. Currently we can arrange intensive weekend (or shorter) conferences on every course in our curriculum and a lot more too. We depend on you to ask, and when you do we will do our best to make available to you the equipping resources you need.

The third, and newest, of these responses is our blog. Not only is this blog a place where theologically engaged Vineyard folk, from across our country, share their reflections and musings, this blog is a place where we hope to intentionally create community. Again, this depends on how much you participate, but we make this wide open to be a truly national conversation about the things that really matter to us as we labour in our Lord's Vineyards. Think of it as a conference at your fingertips. We are always happy to have your articles as well as comments. This blog is an important way we are attempting to share the wealth our movement has so that we all will be built up in our faith and capacity to live as responsible citizens of God's Kingdom.

These are just the three responses that we have developed so far, we know that our God is creative and loves to help us equip the saints. In this sense the future is open to possibilities - we would love you to dream with us about even more ways to do this equipping.

Frank Emanuel - Ontario Region

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