December 2009

This is from Russ Gunsalus, Acting Chief Operating Officer of the Seminary:

Dear Friends of Wesley Seminary, As you celebrate the gift of God’s birth and look ahead to a new year we want to thank you for your prayers and support this last year during the launch of Wesley Seminary. I am sure you will enjoy seeing the new materials and testimonies on the website,

God has blessed us with wonderful students and fantastic faculty. In addition to Dr. Bob Whitesel, this year we have also hired Charles Arn as Visiting Professor of Christian Ministry and Outreach and John Drury as Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry.

We are still involved in a search for two more faculty members this year. Please continue to pray that God sends us just the right workers for our harvest. Finding the right faculty for our unique program is vital.

And of course continue to pray for Wayne and Jan Schmidt as Wayne begins his tenure at the helm of Wesley Seminary on January 1. We are blessed to have such an excellent Kingdom leader to guide the seminary into the future.

On a personal note I want to thank you for your encouragement and prayer for me during the entire launching process of Wesley Seminary. For some time I have been planning to return to full time teaching following the launch of the seminary and now that day has come. It has been the joy of a lifetime to work with so many gifted, passionate and mission minded people in developing Wesley Seminary. I will continue to teach in the seminary and the undergrad School of Theology and Ministry. I look forward to join you as a supporter and fan of Wesley Seminary.

I pray that even in the midst of your busy ministry you will be able to pause and let God minister to you. So as you contemplate the mysterious and beautiful redemptive act of His incarnation may you sense the peace, joy and salvation that His birth ushered into our lives. And, may your experience of Jesus this Christmas be so deep and fresh that it renews your passion to share Him with your community, your students, and the world.

On behalf of all of us here at Wesley Seminary we wish you a beautiful Christmas and a fruitful New Year.

Russ Gunsalus
Associate Professor of Religion
Acting Chief Operating Officer
Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University


We finished a day and a half of curriculum planning this afternoon for the Christian Worship course to be offered next Fall. Helping were Constance Cherry, John Drury, Bud Bence, Keith Drury, Russ Gunsalus, and myself. I don’t think Bud would mind me mentioning what he said as we wearily left the conference room today–something like, “Wow, anyone who says this is seminary lite doesn’t know what has gone into these courses.”

Just to give a foretaste, you will read the majority of three of the texts in the series, The Complete Library of Christian Worship, including the volumes on Sacred Actions of Christian Worship, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship, and The Services of the Christian Year, in addition to Dr. Cherry’s own forthcoming The Worship Architect and Drury’s Wonder of Worship. You will create portfolios of detailed self-instruction for everything from performing baptisms, the Lord’s Supper, weddings, funerals, services of Advent and Lent, with alternative biblical assignments for those from traditions that do not practice traditional baptism and communion.

The course will also include the standard features of all praxis courses in the seminary:

1) a Bible, theology, or church history related assignment each week;

2) an Integration Paper threaded from Weeks 3-14 in which you use your exegetical skills and your ability to draw from theologians and church history to address a pastoral issue;

3) action research, strategy, or application every week in relation to the topic of the week;

4) an application strategy piece in the final week, in which you take the various action research, strategy, and application work you have done and formulate a three year realistic plan for their ministry context in some area or areas you have covered, to be revisited in the capstone course.

Thanks to God for helping us these two days of planning!

We had 26 seminary students graduate Saturday, all MA students of course.  Dr. Charles Arn was on campus for the Consecration service, and Dr. Bud Bence gave the charge.  This was Russ Gunsalus’ last graduation as Acting Chief Operating Officer of the seminary.

Today and tomorrow several of us meet to plan out the scope and sequence of next Fall’s 16 week worship course.  Constance Cherry, Bud Bence, Chris Bounds, Keith Drury, in addition to Russ Gunsalus and myself will hammer out the 60 plus individual assignments for the online version of the course, which we will then commit to course writers to flesh out over the next few months.

Blessed Christmas to all!

I think we are all delighted to have the first full MDIV semester under our belts.  Onsite students had their last class today.  Online students are done on Thursday.

Now like the parents who go to work feverishly wrapping on Christmas Eve after the children go to sleep (sorry for the seemingly patronizing metaphor–unintended 😉 ), the infrastructure is about to go into hyperdrive building courses for next year and finishing them for Spring!

Glad tidings to all this Christmastide!

… not to others.  I am amazed at how often adults seem to assume that everyone else should be exactly the same as them, that others find the same things simple they do or hard, that others should like the same things they do or not, etc. 

Children of course act like this all the time.  If you like things I don’t like, you’re weird.  If you’re smart at school and I’m not, you’re a nerd.  I have a sense that a lot of adults grow up but never really got it, that we all have different skills, that we all have different likes and dislikes, and that’s okay.  The result is unnecessary conflict, unnecessary conflict within relationships and marriages, unnecessary conflict in churches.

I jotted down five kinds of differences that many people seem somehow not to factor into their relationships:

1. Personality differences
I love the Myers-Briggs personality test, not because it is the final answer on human personality, but because of how well they have served me in understanding myself and others around me.  So many people have a tendency to look down on those with different personalities.  A person who prefers closure underrates another who likes to leave things open-ended and keep exploring.  An extrovert assumes everyone wants to go back to someone’s house for coffee; the introvert just wants to go back home.  The thinker thinks the feeler can’t think; the feeler believes the thinker’s values are out of whack.  If we could understand the simple differences between us, we would all get along so much better.  In fact, it might make the difference in some marriages.

2. Skill differences
We also have a tendency to assume that what is easy to us will also be easy for others.  If we find it easy to be on time, we assume it would be equally easy for someone else.  If we find it easy to fix things, we assume others should as well.  Things that are common sense to us require great contemplation for others.

3. Developmental differences
It is particularly hard to watch parents treat their children harshly because they do not understand something they are not developmentally able to understand.  And then of course, when middle school students reach that age where they are able to think more abstractly, they suddenly assume that they know more than everyone else, not realizing that adults went through exactly the same broadening some twenty, thirty years earlier.

4. Different leadership styles
Related to differences in personality and skill sets, pastor and congregation can often assume that there is only one way to lead effectively.  A good leader is authoritarian or a good leader always builds consensus before moving forward.  To be sure, some styles are apparently more effective than others, but this too can vary from culture to culture and situation to situation.

5. Contextual-cultural differences
Which brings the final “blind spot” that occurred to me that people often don’t consider.  What something means is a function of its context.  It is all too easy to look on something that happened in one context and then assume it means the same as it would have in ours.  Even when a crisis like the recent shooting at Ft. Hood happens, it is easy for us to look back in hindsight and assume everyone should have seen that this individual was a problem waiting to happen.  Perhaps he was, but it is hard for us to see the actions of his superior in their context, now that ours has changed.  Similarly, small actions that did not have major significance at the time can seem quite dramatically significant at others.

We would all do well to remember some of these basic differences between ourselves, both as ministers and parishioners.