Monday, January 31, 2011

Free(!) Certificate through Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

My darling wife connected with an old friend over the weekend and she found out that her husband is currently working on his PhD in homiletics with Haddon Robinson as his supervisor. I know. We all have our crosses to bear.

After the greenish tint left my skin she told us that GCTS has an online certificate program, and you can access the classes and get the cert. for free. Of all the certificate programs I've seen - other than SBTS's programs - this is the most extensive. There are ten different classes with study guides and exams that should offer the student a good foundation for further study. It is a shame that they only offer the classes through streaming real audio, unless you want to purchase the mp3 CD through the school bookstore. Some of us with our little mp3 players like to take classes on the go.

While I'm on this topic, I'd like to talk for a minute about why it is important for the teacher - lay or not - to continue to learn and study God's word.

First, it should continue to breed humility in the teacher. Some may think it produces the opposite, but I have found that I am far more dogmatic and arrogant the less I know about something, and the more I learn, the more I realize my knowledge on it is very limited in deed. Of course there will always be the exception, prideful people struggle with pride, but teachers who also have a teachable heart should be continually confronted with the limit of their knowledge.

Second, Bryan Chapell's lectures on preaching have taught me that when we teach the word of God, we are saying God's words after him, through our own personality. This means, that everything that we are, what we've done, seen, experienced, is the wrapper or packaging for re-spoken words of God. The vilest man on earth may give an exegetically sound exposition of scripture, but none of us are going to pay him any heed because his life is in incongruence with his message. But I would argue this "wrapper" goes beyond just character. If you, as a teacher, model a humble, teachable spirit that is always trying to grow, do you think your people will see that? Do you think that will come through in how and what you teach? As you continue to dig deep and learn more and more about the word of God, do you think that will add a vibrance to your teaching?

Now, I don't think we all need to study ourselves into a PhD. God has called some men to be Sunday School Teachers and no more. And they should be honored to have the opportunity to study and teach the word of God, Sunday after Sunday, week after week. But, aside from their job, their wives, their kids, and their preperation, they should consider scratching aside a little bit of time, even an hour a week, to push themselves just a little further. At an hour a week it would take a man a little less than two years to earn the certificate through GCTS. I think it's worth it. I think their church is worth it. I think the men and women in their classes are worth it. Do you?

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