Teaching Ministry of the ICOC

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Spring 2019 Teachers Service Team Report

by Dr. G. Steve Kinnard, Tammy Fleming

Fourteen members* of the International Church of Christ Teachers Service Team met in San Antonio on March 31 and April 1, 2019, for the second Teachers Service Team Meeting of 2019. The first took place in Orange County, California, in conjunction with the innovative Hackathon conference (www.icochackathon.org), organized by members of the Teachers Service Team, February 21 – 24, 2019. 

Starting our days together with worship and prayer.In San Antonio, Dave Pocta hosted us at Oblate School of Theology, where he is currently pursuing a PHD in Contemporary Christian Spirituality. Dave opened our time together with a devotional based on the story of the Samaritan woman from John 4. We sang some old hymns, written in the 1800s. It was a very inspiring morning together.  On the second morning of meetings, Ron Rolheiser (President of the Oblate School of Theology)  led an amazing devotional on some principles of pedagogy.  

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Addressing questions related to women’s roles in churches today. Together we composed a letter which informs the fellowship of the fact that the Teachers Service Team is diligently working on a paper on the woman’s role in ministry. That letter was completed and was posted on the ICOC Teachers’ website, www.teachicoc.org on April 2, on Disciples Today, and on various social media platforms. We hope that disciples will continue to share and forward this letter as they see fit. 

Valdur Koha chairs the subcommittee of teachers and others who are actively working on this paper, researching the difficult passages relating to the public role of women in the bible. The group meets monthly online and is working together to produce a scholarly paper exegeting scriptures relevant to discussions about the women’s role in the church today. Steady progress is being made, despite the fact that none of the contributors are available to devote themselves on a full-time basis to the project. The target date for completion is 2020. 

     It was proposed that the Women’s Ministry Task Force (formerly known as the Women’s Service Team) could work under the supervision of the Teachers Service Team to create an online survey of our 32 regional families of churches, to learn what specific questions are being asked concerning the public role of women in our churches around the world. Steve Staten agreed to advise and help to design a survey which would ensure a properly representative sampling with appropriate questions. This proposal was given approval in the assembly of the Regional Family Chairs. The Women’s Ministry Task Force will proceed with this fact-finding effort. 

Strategizing to Host and Attend Various Conferences and Meetings.We agreed that the following events would be priorities for us in an annual calendar, understanding that Service Team members would pick and choose what they are able to attend. 

         (a) The ICOC Spring Meeting of our 32 Regional Church Family Chairs and Service Team members.  

         (b) The ICOC Autumn Leadership Meeting of the delegates from each Regional Family of Churches. We agreed that the Teachers Service Team would meet for two days this autumn immediately before the delegates meeting and would plan to bring younger and Next Generation teachers to that Service Team meeting. 

         (c)  A New Annual Teachers Meeting/Conference for those interested in the Teaching Ministry. We would hope that everyone on the Service Team could attend this event: two days of meetings as a Teachers Service Team, followed by a Teaching Ministry conference. Possibly August 13-17, 2019, in San Antonio. 

         (d) Hackathon – type conferences — We would like to see these begin to take place in our regional families of churches. Steve Staten and Shane Engle will be working on this idea. 

         (e) ICOC Scholars Conference. To be held a day or two before the Annual Meetings hosted by the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion.  The Annual Meetings this year are scheduled for November 23- 26, 2019 in San Diego.

 

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Strengthening our churches for the future.We as a group of teachers in the ICOC are deeply concerned with the question of how we, as a movement, plan to “feed” our people long term (Hebrews 5:12). We discussed the need for further development in theological education for our ministers, in order to grow both theologically and spiritually.  We want to ensure that in ten to twenty years’ time, we are doing an excellent job of educating our people. 

         We discussed the importance of Ministry Training Academies (MTAs), which exist in several regional families of churches. We see a need to raise the standards of our MTAs. We agree that in addition to continuing to improve the MTA programs, we want to continue to encourage our ministers and other members of our churches to complete graduate study programs.

         Most of our churches employ internships to educate young ministers. We want to do everything we can to develop academic as well as practical training for ministers in all our 32 regions of churches around the world. To that end, we created a subcommittee Task Force to consider Ministry Education, comprised of Gregg Marutzky (Chair), Jeremy Lefler, Robert Carrillo, Steve Kinnard, and Ed Anton. 

         We discussed several ways in which we could amplify the Teachers’ voice in our fellowship and improve the ways in which we currently contribute to the strengthening of our churches. We discussed live streaming of teachers’ lessons and events; videos; creating an online webinar and an online theological journal.

         Steve Staten presented a paper that speaks to ensuring that appropriate spiritual and other necessary qualifications for leadership positions are met in the ICOC. The group gave Steve feedback on this paper. He is making a few changes, then he will forward the paper to the teachers for a last review before publication and distribution. 

         We discussed ways in which we could develop Teachers Service Teams in each of the 32 regional families of churches around the world. We agreed that Steve Kinnard would compile information from the regional church families, namely, where we have recognized teachers and where we do not. 

         We believe it’s very important to accurately document our movement’s history over the past forty years. Many of us agreed to write a portion of our history, so that we can begin to collect eyewitness accounts. These could be presented at the various meetings and conferences listed above, and published online.                                         

In Summary.These are the “Big Bucket” Items that we believe deserve our consistent focus. Please pray for us to make consistent progress pleasing to God, as we work together to accomplish these goals: 

         a. Regional Teacher Service Teams.

         b. Credentialing a program for ministry education.

         c. Producing position papers. An online journal. Recording our history. 

         d. Work on our hermeneutic. 

         e. Provide congregational teaching.

         f. Provide resources for ministry training.

         

* Present on the 31st: Steve Kinnard, Steve Staten, James Becknell, Tammy Fleming, Andy Fleming, Kay McKean, Joey Harris, Diane Brown, Steve Brown, Dave Pocta

 

Present on the 1st: Steve Kinnard, Steve Staten, James Becknell, Kay McKean, Joey Harris, Diane Brown, Steve Brown, Dave Pocta, Ed Anton, Deb Anton, Robert C., Valdur Koha. 

         

 

 

2017 Teachers Service Team Meeting Report

The Teachers Service Team met in early April in Dallas of 2017.

Here are the items we discussed:

The Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology (RMSMT) 

We began with a report from Glenn Giles, the director of the Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology in Denver. The school offers both online and hybrid (online and face-to-face) classroom courses toward three state authorized Master’s degrees, one in Christian Ministry and one in Biblical Studies and now a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies with Languages (Greek and Hebrew). The school also in its relationship with Lincoln Christian University provides for students to transfer up to half of the credits taken at RMSMT toward LCU accredited Masters degrees in ministry and theology, including specifically the Master of Arts in Bible and Theology and the Master of Divinity degrees. We have just had our first RMSMT student (Jan Louie Uy) transfer graduate credits into the LCU Master of Arts in Bible and Theology program.

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Many students are taking advantage of this affordable means of getting training in Bible study. Third World students are taking courses for one-fourth the tuition or less than first world students pay. It is one of our main mission goals to provide affordable graduate Bible and Ministry education to third world students. Students from the third world are very grateful for the online courses. They can have online discussions and learn from one another.

The school has been asked to create a Bachelors program. The certificate program is on hold right now as we look more at the Bachelor’s degree program for worldwide students. We had two students who began our trial certificate program but neither one has completed their first course successfully so we have discontinued the certificate program. What we are looking at doing is creating a regular MTA program here in Denver separate from the graduate or undergraduate programs of RMSMT. It would be for those students who may not be able to do graduate study or who do not want to do the full blown graduate or undergraduate level programs. But this has to be developed and would not be in our RMSMT catalog. It would be a separate entity.

Rolan Monje commented, “There has been an increase in interest for Bible knowledge in the last few years. This is especially true for older Disciples. The international component gives extra ‘sinews’ for connecting the worldwide moment. The students appreciate the teachers being active ministers.”

Steve Kinnard commented, “The school allows students to get a degree for a much reduced price before getting into Lincoln Christian University accredited degree program. The international fellowships brings a great dynamic to the online discussion. It is mutually beneficial for 1st and 3rd world partners.”

Dr. Glenn Giles is to be commended for the work he has put into the school. It was his dream to launch a theological school among our movement of churches, and the dream has become a reality.

Some of the accomplishments this year:

  1. Student enrollment has now increased to 46 students, half of which are first world students and half of which are third world students. We now have students in the Philippines, Singapore, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, UK, Haiti, and the US.
  2. We had our first transfer of credits of one of our students to LCU validating the quality of our programs are on a level equivalent with regional accreditation standards.

Ministry Training Academies (MTA)

The Teachers Service Team completed a core curriculum of twelve classes for our MTAs across the world.  The curriculum was approved by the Evangelists and Elders teams. Many MTAs have been started in various regions of the world. 

Most recently a MTA was started in Lagos, Nigeria to train and educate interns throughout English-speaking West Africa. Fred George is directing this school. 

Also, Steve Brown reports from Ecuador:

This year we started teaching the MTA curriculum online in Spanish for the South American churches (with the help of Sebastian Sierra and the help of a number of other teachers). We are talking with Glenn Giles about becoming the Spanish arm of the Denver school. We had over 200 students sign up for the first course.

We plan on making a directory of the schools in the near future. We also plan on making a directory of the recognized teachers across our churches. 

Committee Reports

  • Women’s Committee
    • A committee has been formed to research the women’s role from a biblical perspective and to discuss ways that the gifts of women can be utilized in a greater way to glorify God and strengthen our churches.
    • Although we have spent time discussing this issue, no paper has been started. Some of the teachers in the Chicago church and the US Midwest churches have been working on a paper.  We need to spend more focused and directed time on this important topic.
  • Technology
    • We continue to use various teaching platforms like Blackboard to get classes to our people.
  • Teacher Development
    • Valdur Koha encouraged us to take a fresh look at what we want to accomplish here. Some congregations, like Boston, do have programs where teachers are being trained. Steve Kinnard asked us to take a look globally. Steve has been training teachers in Africa and the Caribbean.
    • We should ask:
      • What goals can be set for regional families?
      • What are the regional needs?
      • What are best practices?
      • What are the best models?
    • Also, we must have local buy-in for this to be effective. It is crucial that we work with regional chairmen for this to make progress.
  • Disputable Matters & Hermeneutics
    • Although this has been a committee for years, we aren’t any closer to working on a paper than we were years ago. Although we understand the importance of the topic and some of us have written individually on the topic, it is difficult to get momentum as a group here. This is where a lack of resources hurts us. Most of us are working as full time staff in the ministry and doing the teaching ministry. If we could only focus on teaching, then these projects would be easier.
  • International Teachers Seminar/Biblical Study Tour
    • In October of 2016 Douglas Jacoby, Steve Kinnard, and Joey Harris co-led the 2016 Biblical Study Tour to the Holy Land. Everyone had a great time walking in the steps of Jesus. The highlight for most people was the Sunday church service with prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane.
    • In August of 2017 Jacoby and Kinnard will lead another tour. 85 people from 20 different countries are attending.  The weather will be hot, but that will not not squelch the spirit of the participants.
    • Another tour is scheduled for late October of 2018. Information can be found at https://www.douglasjacoby.com/2018-biblical-study-tour/
    • We are discussing hosting a Teachers Conference alongside one of our upcoming Teachers Service Team meeting in 2018 or 2019. Be on the lookout for more information concerning this Teachers Conference.
  • Divorce and Remarriage: A paper on marriage, divorce, and remarriage has been completed. It has been sent to the evangelists and elders service teams for review.  After they review the paper, it will be posted for everyone to read and use.
  • Congregational Teaching: We want to capture and highlight what is going on currently in many of our churches. Some churches are doing an excellent job here. Resources are being created, but we need a way to advertise and distribute these resources.
  • Church Discipline Taskforce: A template and some background has been generated. We must figure out a way to disseminate this material to other people.
  • The Teachers Corner: The Teachers Service team has a presence on Disciples Today. It is called The Teachers Corner. Tammy Fleming has done an amazing job on this project. The material can also be found at teachicoc.org. We want to continue to add material to these sites.

ICOC 3.0

A big part of the April meeting was the discussion ICOC 3.0. Ed Anton opened our discussion with a couple of questions: Why is it needed for us to do this rethink for ICOC 3.0? How can we do a better job of bringing Jesus to the entire world? Then Ed suggested, “We must try to forge something very different from what we have done in the past–The cooperation of hierarchy with the benefits of autonomy.”

Here are a few points that were made by various people during our discussion:

  • Is the delegates system working?
  • We must ask the question–Is what we are doing working well? 1.5% growth is low with no plan or expectation for change.
  • We have lost a mantra as a movement. Our problem is not leadership. In Boston, discipleship was fantastic and simple. In ’86 to ’88 we grew fastest when we were assimilating as a movement. In ’97 Europe, Africa and the Middle East got stretched. We must revive the moment. That is more important than the structure. We must be clear about what our problem is. It takes 25 disciples to make a disciple now.
  • We don’t seem to be united on a global vision. What is the best global vision for us as a movement. Is there better wording that inspires us. What is our ethos and mantra?
  • We have set structure for the solution, but many people in our churches don’t understand what the problem really is. We have a concern about understanding the structure versus the mission. We are missing the component of diversity, younger people, and women in this meeting
  • We need cooperation and purpose. We must be cooperative with a structure that has a clear function.

Conclusion 

This discussion was healthy and vibrant. The next couple of days were spend in small group discussions on the topic.

To help prepare everyone for the ICOC 3.0 discussions, the Teachers Service Team was tasked with developing a few video lessons. The following brothers did an excellent job with their presentations:

  • Ed Anton – Cooperation in the New Testament 
  • Steve Staten – Cooperation, A Look Through the Church History
  • Gordon Ferguson – Cooperation and Autonomy, a Comparison
  • Valdur Koha – Organizing For the Future

Teachers Service Team Subcommittees:

  • Teacher Development. Valdur Koha, chair
    •        Steve Kinnard, Joey Harris, Rolan Monje
  • Congregational Teaching. Ed Anton, chair
    •        Fred Faller, Douglas Jacoby, Joey Harris
  • Technology. Arturo Elizarraras, chair
    •        Joey Harris
  • Accreditation/RMSMT: Glenn Giles, chair
    •        Steve Kinnard
  • Disputable Matters and Hermeneutics: Steve Staten, chair
    •        Douglas Jacoby, Joey Harris, Kay McKean, Steve Kinnard
  • Women’s Teaching Ministry. Kay McKean, Deb Anton, co-chair
    •        Suzette Lewis
  • International Teachers Seminar: Douglas Jacoby, chair
    •        Steve Kinnard
  • Divorce and Remarriage, a re-examination. Valdur Koha, chair
    •        Steve Kinnard, Suzette Lewis, Courtney Bailey
  • Church Discipline: Steve Staten, chair
    •        Deb Anton, Glenn Giles
  • Women’s Role
    •        Deb Anton, Suzette Lewis, Kay McKean, Steve Kinnard, Courtney Bailey
  • Teachers' Corner
    •        Tammy Fleming

Members of the Teachers Service Team:

Ed Anton, chair, Virginia Beach

Dr. Deb Anton, Virginia Beach

Kay McKean, Northern Virginia

Steve Brown, Buenos Aries

Steve Staten, Chicago 

Dr. Douglas Jacoby, Atlanta

Joey Harris, Augusta

Andy Fleming, Kiev

Tammy Fleming, Kiev 

Dr. Glenn Giles, Denver

Fred Faller, Boston

Valdur Koha, Boston

Courtney Bailey, Kingston

Arturo Elizarraras, Mexico City

Suzette Lewis, Toronto

Dr. Rolan Monje, Manila

Dave Pocta, San Antonio 

Dr. Steve Kinnard, New York