Missions

Global ministry trends and issues, part two: Discerning the terms

No Comments » Written on July 20th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Theology

This is the second post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

Burch_city

Beirut, Lebanon.

Recently while traveling in a creative access country (generally a country where missionary and evangelism activity is restricted), I was reminded of the importance of not using terms like missions and missionary. The use of these words in some contexts can land a Jesus-follower in jail or even worse. While traveling throughout this country, I spent some time considering the use of these terms in our world today.

Mission literature has also found it necessary to review some of the very terms that often accompany our global church activity. Mission and missions are two distinct words that have caused much confusion for younger generations. “Within mission discussion since the 1950s, terms have developed in such a way that it can be confusing to the uninitiated. Essentially mission (without the s) and missions (with the s) are used to indicate different things” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 69). The two definitions, as laid out by Scott Moreau, Gary Corwin and Gary McGee are helpful as we explore terms. Missions is understood as the “task of making disciples of all nations. It is seen through the work of mission agencies, churches and missionaries around the world” (70). The specific emphasis is on cross-cultural ministry in international contexts.

Mission, on the other hand, has been used in recent years in a broader sense and typically refers to “everything the church does that points toward the kingdom of God” (70). While these definitions are helpful to clarify what we mean in engaging in a specific kingdom activity, I find it more more helpful to use terms like cross-cultural (or even intercultural) ministry to specifically identify when one is involved working in a community other than one’s own cultural group.

Burch_bridge

Crossing a river into an indigenous village in the Caribbean highlands with my son.

Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas explore the idea of whether or not the term missionary is even appropriate in our day and age (34-35). One of the primary concerns with the use of the nomenclature is the negative connotations associated with it internationally. It is frequently connected to ideas like colonialism and imperialism. Whether justified, or not, the authors raise concerns and ask the question, “since the term ‘missionary’ has negative connotations for a large segment of the world that the Christian church is trying to reach, and is not found in God’s sacred storybook, should another term or phrase replace it?” (Steffen and Douglas 34). While there are no conclusions here, the raising of the question from prominent missiologists demonstrates the shift occurring within the field of missiology and missions today. Similar to the sentiment expressed above, Raymo and Raymo also bring into question the usage of the term “missionary,” especially as it relates to the millennial generation (28-29).

Essential to our exploration of terms is the Latin expression Missio Dei. Missio Dei is a common term used by both ecumenists and evangelicals. It is defined by Moreau, Corwin and McGee as “a comprehensive term encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on the earth” (71).

David Bosch rightly acknowledges that, “Mission has its origin in the fatherly heart of God” (240). Mission that resonates with this generation of cross-cultural workers must be understood from this perspective. For to separate mission from God leads us to charitable intentions, yet lacking the power for true transformation in the heart of the goer and receiver.

Charles Van Engen appropriately contends, “We cannot have mission without the Bible, nor can we understand the Bible apart from God’s mission” (37). The Bible is the main source for missions and must be understood as a means of contributing to the ultimate task of the Missio Dei. Scripture plays a role in defining unchanging truth to a changing context.

Steffen and Douglas note that, “Christian witness is always lived out in social environments influenced and shaped by local and global economics, politics and religions” (343). These are critical topics that demonstrate the importance of an interdisciplinary understanding of the field. As Van Engen notes, “Theology of mission, then, must eventually emanate in biblically informed and contextually appropriate missional action” (25). It must not remain static or purely theoretical. This need emphasizes the place of an appropriate contextualization to each of the explored trends and issues that follow in the coming weeks.

 

Works Cited

Bosch, David. Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective London: Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1980. Print.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary Corwin and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2015. Print.

Raymo, Jim and Judy Raymo. Millennials and Mission: A Generation Faces a Global Challenge. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2014. Print.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008. Print.

Van Engen, Charles. Mission on the Way. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996. Print.

Global ministry trends and issues, part one: Discerning the times in global mission

No Comments » Written on July 18th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Theology

This is the first post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

Cochabamba

Taken from the El Cristo statue in Bolivia, looking out onto the city of Cochabamba.

Over the next eight weeks, I will be presenting some of the current movements and trends within global mission efforts today. As contexts of mission shift, theory and practice must also keep up the pace. A primary motif within current mission literature seeks to understand current issues and trends in the field. One thing that must not change is the theological basis to global mission. Theology and mission must be closely tied as we re-consider and reconfigure what we mean by global mission in an age of radical change. Too frequently in the past, our theologies have remained dormant and detached from social realities. And likewise, mission has been divorced from a strong theological foundation, manifested, in some cases, more like a social service disconnected from God’s central purpose in building his kingdom. When this all happens, “The result is a theology divorced from human realities and a missiology that lacks theological foundations” (Paul Hiebert 38).

There are a number of shifts taking place in global mission today. Strategies and approaches will need to be assessed to keep up with current events. One example from this past week is the new Russian law that prevents one from sharing his or her faith outside of a church or religious building (including online and in residential buildings). The new law, which was attached to anti-terrorism amendments, goes into effect on Wednesday, July 20. (For more on this law see Forum 18 – a local news source in the region.) How should mission organizations and others deeply concerned about growing God’s kingdom respond? What is the best approach to missional activity in such a restricted context?

Other issues we will consider in the coming weeks are new mission terms. Even historic and traditional ways of describing mission are being debated. The issue of nomenclatures and mission program titles has, as of recent, been included in mission conferences and frequently debated in recent works. Take, for example, the recent American Society of Missiology’s annual meeting (2015) and the Professor of Mission conference as they discussed such topics as Missio-logoi: The Many Languages of Mission and What’s in a Name? Assessing Mission Studies Program Titles. These are current issues that are reflective of the changes taking place in the field. Even our own mission program at Multnomah recently went through some significant changes. See Global Studies for more on MU’s own experience with this topic.

Andrew Kirk writes from a conciliar position on mission as he explores the need to incorporate a broad missiological foundation that includes mission to the poor, creation care, contextualization, social justice, pluralism, violence and peacemaking, and global partnerships. In his proposal, he suggests that mission be inclusive of a broad range of issues (24, 28-29). One of the stronger emphases noted in the writings of Kirk is how many of Jesus’ friends were indeed outsiders. The poor, with whom Jesus associated, were much more than those who did not own property; rather, they were people who had been intentionally disadvantaged and forbidden to enter into the life of civil society. They were forced to become powerless to make any difference in society (48). Given the place of the poor and marginalized in Scripture, they will be a primary motif in the coming weeks as well.

As we discuss trends and movements within global mission today, we must remember that mission knowledge is built upon the past and mission praxis is built upon the present. This review will seek to keep an eye on both.

IMG_4012

The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque in Beirut, Lebanon.

Works Cited

Hiebert, Paul. “Missiological Education for a Global Era.” In Missiological Education for the 21st Century: The Book, the Circle and the Sandals, edited by Edgar J. Elliston, Charles Van Engen and J. Dudley Woodberry. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996. Print.

Kirk, Andrew. What Is Mission? Theological Explorations. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000.

MU professor co-leads pastoral conference in Malawi, Africa

Comments Off on MU professor co-leads pastoral conference in Malawi, Africa Written on May 20th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Missions, Pray For MU, Theology

Village_blog

MU professor Roger Trautmann will be conducting the Pastors’ Enrichment Conference in Malawi, East Africa May 24-25. Trautmann, along with  Carl Palmer from Global Training Network, was chosen by the Luis Palau Association to lead the event, which will draw nearly 800 pastors.

Many African church leaders face a startling deficit of biblical and pastoral training, which is exactly what promoted the Luis Palau Association to launch a leadership conference for local pastors. “In East Africa, pastors have little access to good training,” says Trautmann, who will be teaching on topics such as Bible study methods and the Pastoral Epistles. But lack of preparation doesn’t mean lack of motivation. “I’ve met pastors who’ve started 20 churches, and they’ve never had any official training,” he adds.

Although Trautmann has taught at this conference once before, he’s been conducting workshops for pastors in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burkina Faso for many years. “They’re hungry for good training,” he says. “That’s why I’ve been participating since 1994.”

During the conference, please pray that God would give both Trautmann and Palmer Christ’s wisdom as they teach and His power as they work to strengthen the Church in Africa. Pray also that the pastors and leaders in attendance would be encouraged and challenged during this powerful outreach.

 

MU launches online version of MA in Global Development and Justice program

Comments Off on MU launches online version of MA in Global Development and Justice program Written on February 11th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Programs

Multnomah University has launched an online version of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program. The 18-month program will kick off with two weeks in Rwanda, where students will take their first two courses, embark on study tours and connect with practitioners. All subsequent courses will be taken online, and students will take two eight-week courses at a time.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be face to face with students at the beginning of the program,” says MAGDJ Director Dr. Greg Burch. “This contextual residency will provide time for cohort members to get to know one another and begin developing the community we envision for the online portion of this educational experience.”

Burch proposed the blended program so students who weren’t able to join MU’s on-campus cohorts could still earn the MAGDJ degree. “The blended program allows for us to pull in students from around the globe who are passionate about global justice and community development,” he says. “We hope to create a strong community as we wrestle together with complex issues that need carefully crafted solutions to bring lasting transformation.”

The first cohort is set to begin in July 2016. Burch is hoping for a good turnout. Things are looking promising: The new program has already sparked interest across the globe. “We’ve received inquiries about the blended program from practitioners in Colombia, India, Kenya, Rwanda and Lebanon,” says Burch. “They see the possibilities for acquiring a new set of skills that will take them to new heights.”

Burch says one of the main benefits prospective students recognize is that they don’t need to leave their work or family. “It can be difficult for global leaders to move to the U.S. or even to a new state,” he says. “This program allows them to stay where they are, keep a flexible schedule, and direct their research in very practical ways for their career and ministry.”

In the years ahead, Burch envisions the new program contributing to MU’s global campus by including students in developing nations. “With the help of Multnomah donors, we anticipate having a significant participation of underrepresented groups in this program,” he says. “We believe it will be necessary to provide significant scholarships, and we’re praying the Lord will provide for students who don’t have the economic means to pay.”

As the program continues to mature, Burch foresees adding contextual residency locations in Asia and Latin America.

To learn more about this program, visit multnomah.edu/blendedMAGDJ, or you can contact Dr. Greg Burch at gburch@multnomah.edu.

Nepal

Photo/Jonathan Isensee

Student travels to Honduras, volunteers at orphanage

Comments Off on Student travels to Honduras, volunteers at orphanage Written on November 9th, 2015 by
Categories: Missions, Students

When Wendy Buller was on her way to Honduras this summer, she wasn't quite sure what to expect. The elementary education major had been on a few mission trips before, so she knew there would be hard work involved. But she'd never worked at an orphanage in Honduras before.

Buller first heard about the trip at Multnomah's 2015 annual Global Missions Conference. Hope Teams International, a nonprofit that works with orphans and street children in developing nations, was offering the trip as a raffle prize. "I think God put it on my heart to apply," she says. "I thought, 'Why not?'"

When Hope Teams announced that Buller had been selected for the trip, it was confirmation that she'd done the right thing. Buller and her team left for the 10-day trip in June. As soon as she arrived in Honduras, Buller was taken aback by the poverty she saw all around her. "It felt like walking into national geographic photo," she says.

GroupPhoto

Her team drove an hour outside the city to the orphanage. It was in the jungle, surrounded by a brick wall and fence; Buller guessed it was about the size of Multnomah's campus. The enclosed area included a school, play areas and dormitories for the 40 children who live there.

During the morning and early afternoon the volunteers painted the orphanage and worked on constructing a new school building. Once school ended later in the afternoon, the children flooded outside to spend times with their new friends.

"One of my favorite things about the trip was playing with the kids after they got out of school," says Buller. "The language barrier was frustrating for me, but they didn’t seem to care that we didn’t know Spanish; they still wanted to play."

And the more Buller played, the more she got to know the brave spirits behind each smiling face. "You wouldn’t have believed where theses kids had come from," she says. "When they shared their testimonies, it was shocking." Some had been abandoned by their parents. Others had been abused over and over. Some had families who simply couldn't taken of them, so they sent them away. Others had lost their parents to death or disease.

"Once kids have someone to love on them, they will shine," says Buller. "These kids grew up learning how to steal, but now they learn to hug and show their true gifts. All of them are very talented. It was amazing to see God working there with them."

When it was time to leave in July, Buller felt like a different person. She thinks about the orphanage often, and she even began sponsoring a young boy she befriended there.

image1

"I love those kids so much!" she says. "I made a lot of good relationships with them. This trip made me want to do even more mission trips with kids. I love that I was able to see God working in another place across the world."

Buller says she wants to work with kids full-time one day, perhaps as a teacher. But for now, the junior is preparing for her career by taking advantage of MU's rigorous courses and supportive professors. "I love the classes here; they make me want to work harder," she says. "And the professors have a way of inspiring you to keep learning more outside of class."

But something very close to her heart is the university mission statement. "I love that it’s about equipping us to be missionaries wherever we are," she says. "MU wants its students to go into the world and be like Christ. Because of Multnomah, I feel prepared for a job — and I feel prepared to stand up for my faith."

MU alumni, missionaries impact students during recent visit

Comments Off on MU alumni, missionaries impact students during recent visit Written on November 2nd, 2015 by
Categories: Alumni, Missions, Students

Dan (’97) and Janell (’00) Hartley have a desire to transform lives. For the past 10 years, they have been sharing the gospel as missionaries in Southern Africa. During a recent trip to their alma mater, the couple brought their passion for the gospel to Dr. Karen Fancher’s Pressing Global Issues class.

image002

“As alumni, our hearts are connected to Multnomah,” says Janell. “We hope that our stories — the chapters we have done well and the chapters we have learned from — will be a blessing and ignite a passion for doing missions.”

Youth ministry major Miguel Ruiz’s attention was undivided during their presentation. Hearing their stories and well-spoken wisdom unexpectedly awakened something in his heart. “My plan was to be a soccer coach, and now…” the freshman trails off, shaking his head and chuckling at his sudden change of heart. “I think God is putting me somewhere else.”

The Hartley’s vision and devotion acted as a catalyst within Ruiz — he now finds himself lying awake at night, thinking about his potential new path. Although he’s unsure of the future, he’s confident in God’s plan for his life. “It’s His will, not mine,” he says.

Making it clear that their work as missionaries isn’t always easy, the Hartleys were honest about past struggles with self-doubt and self-identity. “I needed to understand not just who I am in Christ, but whose I am,” says Dan.

It’s not by chance that past failures often hinder our mission and vision, especially when you’re working for the Lord. “We have a target on our backs, and that doesn’t go away just because we step into ministry,” he says.

But hardship can be overcome by choosing to rely on God for strength, not on ourselves. Janell advised students to come to the Lord with questions as a way to overcome self-reliance.

“When I wake up I pray, ‘Good morning, Lord. What do you want me to accomplish?’” she says. “Learn what his heart is.”

The students attentively soaked up their advice for navigating the ebb and flow of challenges that missionaries often encounter. In closing, the Hartleys offered a way to react to those challenges: “We stopped asking, ‘Why?’ and asked God, ‘What are you doing, and how can we be a part of it?’”

image003

Visit the Hartleys’ website at www.magezi.org if you’d like information about their vision to share the gospel with unreached people groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. Contact Janell to request email updates or newsletters at janell@magezi.org. Most importantly, remember to keep them in your prayers.

Watch our new global studies major video

The global studies program equips students for a deep commitment to understanding and engaging in the global issues affecting our world today.

"You don't have to wait to put things into practice...this program connects you with people working in cross-cultural settings right now," says global studies major Kevin Perry. "It's all about understanding other peoples' worldviews and understanding how I can love them better through understanding their cultural context."

Basketball team touches lives in Taiwan

Coach Curt Bickley shares the details of the Lions' mission trip to Taiwan. 

The Multnomah Basketball team flew to Taipei, Taiwan, on May 9 and spent the week playing basketball games and sharing the Gospel. Thank you to all our donors who made this trip happen. We were able to share the Gospel publicly 11 times during the week.

The Team

IMG_0242

Our team was made up of three current MU basketball players, five former players, a high school coach (Chad Bickley), an NBA coach (Mike Penberthy), two coaching assistants (Mike Farrington and Stan Bickley), and four kids (two were Penberthy’s and two were Bickley’s).

Games

IMG_0235

We played nine games in six days. At each game, we were able to share the Gospel with the other team and their fans at halftime or through literature written in Mandarin. All the teams were very open to listening to the mission of our trip.

Bethany Christian School

FullSizeRender

We visited Bethany on Tuesday morning and ran the school chapel. I introduced the team and spoke about what a relationship with God looks like. I was able to use the example of brother, son, father, mentor, and friend – all members of our team.

The school was doing a fund raiser to replace their gym floor. Each class adopted one of our players and acquired pledges for the number of free throws their player could make in two minutes. As part of an action-packed hour with the K-9th graders that day, Chad Bickley hit 62 free throws, Mike Penberthy hit 61, and Blake Updike hit 55.

Taichung Elderly Home Visit

On Wednesday, we traveled to Taichung to play two games and visit the elderly as we have done in the past. Our guys divided up and spent time individually with the elderly and then my Dad and I spoke to the group. We had a great time seeing our friends again.

We also visited and played a game at Morrison Academy. Morrison’s best player from last year, Andy Brown, will be joining Multnomah's basketball team next year.

Love Life Basketball Game

Love life

Saturday night was a special treat for everyone as we played the SBL All Star Team (Taiwan Pro League). The game was meant to raise awareness and money for kids with cancer — and to raise awareness of cyber bullying, as a local celebrity had recently committed suicide after being bullied.

We knew from experience that the place was going to be packed, and it was. We did not win the game (the score was 100-124), but we had a great time, and the event provided a chance to share the gospel — our missionary Uwe Mauer shared the Good News at halftime.

Tian Mu Grace Church

church

Our team was able to share with Tian Mu Grace Church on Sunday morning during the main church service and during Sunday School. It was a great time of fellowship with these believers in Taipei.

Thank You

blake coopWe would like to conclude by thanking all those who played a part in making this trip happen. My brother Brad Bickley worked with me for the fifth time in Taiwan so that our basketball team could make things happen all week.

Our missionaries – Rex Manu, Dan Long, Garett Freeman and Uwe Mauer – did a great job of helping us set up and execute a great game plan.

Kenny Cheng took care of us in many ways; he is a tremendous friend to Multnomah University and our basketball program.

Our interpeters Tony Tsau and his friends helped us at all our locations.

I would also like to thank all of you who supported us financially. This trip would not have happened without you.

— Coach Bickley 

 

‘Our outreach is extensive’: Students volunteer down the street, across the world

Collectively, Multnomah students provide more than 38,000 hours to communities each year — and their contributions span the globe.

They serve as role models for at-risk teens in Portland. They partner with nonprofit agencies in the greater community. And this Friday, the men’s basketball team is heading to Taiwan for a trip filled with service projects, community outreach and basketball games.

The Lions will compete in nine games, including Lovelife, a high-profile annual event that raises awareness and money for children with cancer. Teammates will present the Good News during each half-time.

“This trip is important because it’s an exceptional opportunity to share the gospel,” says sophomore business major Tanner Schula. “God has blessed us with the platform of basketball for ministry. Through basketball, we can first connect with the Taiwanese on a personal basis — and then share Christ.”

During the nine-day trip, the Lions will visit several schools, churches and an assisted living facility.

“It’s exciting that a small Christian school can have such a large capacity for ministry,” says Schula, “This trip displays Multnomah’s expansive reach.”

‘What Multnomah is all about’

Head Basketball Coach Curt Bickley puts a heavy emphasis on outreach and community service; he’s led his teams on mission trips to the Czech Republic and Taiwan for the past seven years. This is the fifth time the Lions are traveling to Taiwan.

“We’re looking forward to seeing old friends, spreading the Gospel, and playing basketball in a great place,” says Bickley. “It’s very exciting that our university has such an emphasis on mission work and that we get to take part in such a great trip.”

The athletes don’t stop serving when they’re back in the States. For the past eight years, the Lions have hosted a free basketball clinic for children at a Native American reservation in Washington. The clinic gives the team an opportunity to impart their skills — and share their faith. “Kids have gotten saved at these events,” says Bickley.

The Lions also volunteer at Providence Children’s Hospital, just down the street from campus. The athletes connect with boy and girls, some of them terminally ill, for a few hours each week. They play games, read, color or just talk.

“Our outreach is extensive,”says Bickley. “This team reflects what Multnomah is all about.”

Communicating values through action

The trip to Taiwan closely follows another service event Multnomah has observed for decades — Day of Outreach. Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community in need of their time and energy. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit organization, a school, a community center. Even a neighbor’s home. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

Senior psychology major Brenna Coy has been attending Day of Outreach since she transferred to MU as a sophomore. “Volunteering encourages me and other students to reach out to our neighborhood,” she says. “It builds bridges in the community.”

Theology and philosophy professor Dr. Mike Gurney agrees. He appreciates the opportunity to impact local organizations while interacting with students outside the classroom. Multnomah requires half of its professors to participate in each Day of Outreach event.

“As Christians, it’s not just about what we say; it’s also about what we do,” he says. “We want to communicate our values through action.”

One fall, Gurney and Coy joined a group of student volunteers at Portland Metro Arts (PMA), a nonprofit community arts organization in Southeast Portland. For several hours they dusted, wiped, polished and swept.

Nancy Yeamans, PMA’s executive director, supervised as students bustled around her. A vacuum hummed in the background, and the smell of Windex hung in the air.

“I know you think that cleaning is probably not a big deal,” she said. “But to us it’s a huge deal because we rely a lot on volunteers. It’s meaningful beyond what you can imagine.”

‘We need to love people’

Besides international trips and Day of Outreach, students participate year-round in Service Learning, a campus-based program that connects them with local nonprofits. Students volunteer weekly at more than 70 organizations across the Portland metro area. They also gain priceless wisdom from field specialists who double as mentors.

“We’re committed to helping students integrate what they’re learning in the classroom with real life,” says Service Learning Director Dr. Roger Trautmann. “Whatever service God puts on their hearts is a possibility. From skateboarding to helping the homeless, from children’s ministry to working with seniors, we can connect them with more than 1,500 churches, ministries and service organizations.”

Sophomore Bible and theology major Katie Mansanti says Service Learning connected her to Adorned in Grace Design Studio, an outreach to at-risk teen girls in Northeast Portland. People donate all kinds of fabrics to the nonprofit, where volunteers like Mansanti teach the girls how to sew. The studio aims to prevent sex trafficking by empowering young women to become advocates on behalf of their sisters and friends.

Volunteers provide snacks, help with homework, offer workshops, run a mentorship program and lead a Bible study. “This is a safe place for them to hang out after school and have someone to talk to,” Mansanti says.

Mansanti’s knack for sewing and heart for teens was a perfect fit for the studio. “It’s nice to take something that’s second nature to me and share it with these girls,” she says. “We all need someone to nudge us along and tell us we’re doing a good job.”

Volunteering may be a time commitment for students, but Mansanti doesn’t see it as a burden. “Service Learning allows you to give back,” she says. “Helping people is important to God. We need to love people and be Jesus to them.”

MU’s global studies program prepares students for work around the world

Comments Off on MU’s global studies program prepares students for work around the world Written on March 6th, 2015 by
Categories: Missions, Programs

MU's intercultural studies program was recently renamed the global studies program. But the switch is more than a name change. I sat down with Global Studies Chair Dr. Greg Burch for the full scoop.

Greg_featureimage

How is global studies different from intercultural studies?

Global studies provides students with everything intercultural studies did, but changing the name opened up the opportunity to add five concentrations:

  • Global Ministry
  • Children at Risk
  • Culture and Diversity
  • Applied Linguistics
  • International Regional Studies

These concentrations are interdisciplinary. So a student might take an English class on minority voices. Or say you have a student who wants to work in the Middle East after they graduate. Now they can spend a semester over there. Want to translate the Bible? Applied Linguistics will teach you how to preserve culture while giving the written word of God to those who haven't had access to it. Our concentrations provide students with better skills to work in their area of interest.

Why was this change made?

Over the past couple of years our department has been researching a way forward for our program given the complexities of our globalized world. We noted that the intercultural studies program had remained virtually unchanged for a number of years, so we assessed the program through student focus groups and one-on-one interviews. We got the sense that the current program was not connecting as well as it could with this generation of students who were living in a highly complex mission environment.

What kind of feedback were you getting from these focus groups and one-on-one meetings?

Students talked about needing practical skills and a targeted education. Now these concentrations get to the skills they wanted. We’ve also indicated potential career options around each concentration.

Another thing they mentioned was having redundant classes. So I removed an entire class and combined other classes.

What are you most excited about as you move forward?

The Children at Risk concentration. I’ve worked with street children and children at risk for over 10 years. That’s what God has made me for. This concentration prepares them for national and international work with kids.

We’re also enlarging the opportunities students will have for vocational ministry and marketplace jobs. I’m excited about the fact that we’re getting beyond that secular/sacred divide in missions that was so ingrained in many of our Bible colleges and seminaries. We have come to realize that we must engage with our culture and world in vocations that are relevant to where people are at.

Some students are not in the position to raise support for missions the traditional way. But there are things they can do beyond missions work. Their calling can be found in governmental or secular organizations. They can have salaries and still serve Christ in their mission. Others will still feel called to serve with faith-based missions agencies, and we still prepare people for support raising and missionary service.

There is a crisis in missiological education today. The culture of missions is changing, but a lot of missions programs haven’t changed. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, and we’re trying to engage where we are today without watering anything down.

Who is this program for?

If you’re interested in serving people, working with ethnic groups, church-planting, international vocations — this is critical for you. You’ll be given the tools to thrive. If you want to be a transforming force in the world, these classes will help. Each concentration has its values and provides practical skills in those areas.

What are the benefits of getting the Bible and theology major with the global studies major?

You’ll be well-rounded. You’ll become someone who loves God’s Word. And if you work with non-faith-based organizations, where you might be a minority as a Christian, developing habits of spiritual discipline will be all the more important.

Also, understanding global theology helps us understand what other people are thinking, so we’re not surprised with different ways of processing. We need to think openly when learning from the global church. Our faculty does a wonderful job preparing students for that.

Join the party

The Global Studies Department is having a celebration/informational meeting, and you're invited!

Friday March 13
10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.*
Bradley Hall, B3

Intercultural studies students will learn about transitioning to global studies, and others can hear details about the new program. There will also be food, music and a time of international worship.

*This time counts toward chapel credits

Learn more about our global studies program.