Following Godin’s Advice … Dreaming of Theological Education on Demand

I am nearing my trek through Seth Godin’s Linchpin. One of the ways Godin has prodded me is with his suggestion that many keep what they are thinking to themselves out of fear of what the “teacher” might say. He contends the “lizard brain” resists innovation and is driven by fear. So about the time someone has a good idea, the lizard brain convinces us, through a variety of excuses, to bury the dream.

For many in my vocation questions represent a fault line along which it is perilous to travel. That is, if we begin to ask questions ourselves. And really some would contend it is not a matter of asking questions that is the bad instead it is instead being unprepared with the “right answer.” Many times people then choose to simply keep the questions to themselves. With no safe place in which to comfortably ask questions and pushing for something other than the “approved” answer, many wither from the inside.

Over the years I have found some safe places to question and think through a variety of responses. These friends are occasionally on someone’s “unapproved” list. I was once asked  about articles and authors to which I linked on my website as if to say, “What are you doing?!” Linking does not mean univocal agreement. My lurker turned questioner preferred to draw his own conclusions and make certain judgments rather than have an open conversation; a conversation that may have well benefited the both of us as we learned together.

Learning, however, was not the objective. The goal instead was to draw a line and contend I had somehow crossed it without so much as a fair hearing. I am not looking for sympathy. Rather the point is to say some are locked so tight into their own understandings they defy the occasion to both listen for the Spirit as well as take the obvious opportunity to learn with another.

I have long been interested in learning. Looking back I often wonder if it is not living with an engineer, my Dad. Always interested in thinking through how things work and how we know has long been a part of me of which I am self-aware. For the past number of years I have been dreaming. What would it be like to create spaces for learning? Safe spaces to ask questions. Safe spaces to think collaboratively and collegially – something I find at work in the Scriptures. Think the Apostle Paul’s learning experiences not to mention Peter’s recalibration of the way the world works under the reign of Christ.

So, with that long introduction. Here is something of the dream for theological education on demand presented at Theology After Google.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

2 comments on “Following Godin’s Advice … Dreaming of Theological Education on Demand

  1. Bo says:


    I enjoyed your talk; thanks for sharing it.

    Your conversation is akin to a few taking place within my denomination. For example, we are looking at a person’s particular life experiences as an equivalence to an undergraduate degree (when there exists a situation for ordination where a person may not have graduated from an accredited 4-year college prior to seminary) as they also make way for a 3-year study at a seminary. Could there be a way that allows for life experiences to be counted as a prerequisite to ordination? Currently, my denomination requires an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university + a Masters of Divinity from an accredited seminary + 1-2 units of Clinical Pastoral Education + 1 year of Field Placement. From a person considering ministry as a second career, that’s 9-years of training before they even start their ministerial career. Is it too much? Is there another way to learn all that in a shorter amount of time?

    Another conversation taking place is re-evaluating the seminary experience to include a newer generation that has changed its learning methodologies to include advancing technologies. Younger generations learn in a different way–which in some ways far outpaces our traditional forms of learning. But this conversation also includes the Missional viewpoint that takes people from their contexts, trains them, and puts them back (as the old German E&R settlers in the 1800s did: they took persons from the US, sent them to Europe for study, then placed them back in their contexts).

    Taking your video to heart and interpreting my denomination’s new ideas, I wonder if a more modern interpretation to a Missional theological education would be to bring the seminary experience to the ministerial context, train its members in the methodologies they are familiar studying (not so much reading old theology as re-interpreting it in a modern way) and then commission them for service in their contexts.

    This sounds a lot like what you’re saying, right? Or, are you saying something different? I’ll be looking forward to seeing how your dream evolves.

    1. Bo,

      Yes, you have captured both the nexus of a missional theological education and the necessity of contextual learning.

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