TOO OLD TO LEARN?

by Wayne Schmidt

My dad died at the all-too-early age of 60.  His life of integrity and his commitment to ministry (as a very-involved lay leader) remain an inspiration to me.  A few years later my mom remarried and Rev. Delos Tanner entered my life as my step-dad…and what a blessing he has been to our family over the past 15 years.

Delos served a number of churches over many years, and in his late 80’s remains active in ministry.  He just retired (again – after he delivered a Christmas Day message) from being chaplain at Sentinel Pointe Retirement Community.  Many things impress me about him, but near the top of the list is his inquisitive nature that keeps him learning and energetically discussing matters of spiritual formation and ministry practice.

You’ve heard “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  I wonder sometimes if there are a lot of “old dogs” in ministry.  Some are only in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s.  It’s sad when someone hits their learning lid long before their ministry concludes…sad for them, and sad for those they lead.

But it’s also true that there are many lasting learners.  And while we as a Seminary exist to primarily serve the students who enroll with us (who are in their 20, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s) we also offer courses that can be “audited” for a nominal fee by learners who’ve completed their Bachelors’ degrees but want to keep stretching their minds and hearts.

We’ve just published the course descriptions for our electives offered in 2012.  Might this be the year for you to audit a course as part of your commitment to continuing education?  You can check out the brochure HERE.  A few questions might help you focus on the elective that would best suit your ministry development and personal growth:

  • Want to become more effective in drawing people in to the full life of your church?

Check out – Newcomer Integration

  • Curious to learn principles and practices of church planting to move your local church towards becoming a planting church?

Check out – Missional Church Multiplication

  • Want to develop your understanding of suffering in a way that makes you a more effective servant to others?

Check out – Biblical Perspectives on Disabilities and Suffering

  • Want to dig a bit deeper into the original language of the New Testament?

Check out – Greek for Ministry

  • Interested in developing an effective ministry of reconciliation with others?

Check out – Studies in Reconciliation

  • Curious about how ministries like the Salvation Army impact urban areas?

Check out – Learning from Missional Innovators

  • Want to discover first-hand how one healthy and growing congregation is participating in the mission of God?

Check out – Church Laboratory at 12Stone

  • Desiring to stretch your thinking theologically and historically by studying one of history’s most intriguing figures?

Check out – Life and Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Want to learn more about building a healthy church?

Check out – Diagnosis and Prescription for a Healthy Church

These courses are designed to fit your budget and schedule, whether you learn best in a week-long onsite intensive or a multi-week online class.

That reminds me of another saying you’ve likely heard – “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink…”  Now you’re not a horse (or an old dog), but it’s the privilege of Wesley Seminary at IWU to serve the church and its’ ministers (pastoral and lay) by leading them to meaningful learning opportunities.

May 2012 be a year of life-giving learning for you!

**Next step: if you are interested in and want more information, email Tenley Horner at tenley.horner@indwes.edu for more information.

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