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Introducing Gordon-Conwell's Discipleship Initiative

September 13, 2018
Introducing Gordon-Conwell's Discipleship Initiative

At the end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus famously commanded his apostles to go and make disciples of all the kinds of people there are on the planet—all races and ethnic groups. That's a tall order! Where do we begin? Well, where did we begin? Looking back, most of us can identify someone who helped us as toddlers in Christ to learn to walk by faith and not by sight—to become a maturing follower of Jesus.
 
The goal of The Discipleship Initiative at GCTS is to teach others how to make disciples, by experiencing it ourselves. Participants in the Initiative make a two-year commitment. In Year One, they are discipled by a seminary staff member, professor, local pastor, or second-year student discipler. In Year Two, they, in turn, disciple two other people—fellow students, friends, or church members. The goal is that participants graduate having been discipled and having discipled others. In this way, we hope our students will embrace discipleship as a Christian core competency and a life-long calling.
 
Our approach is personal life-on-life sharing around the Scriptures—asking key questions like “Who is Jesus?” and “What does it mean for me to follow him?” Together, we hope to discover a richer, deeper union with Christ and love for Christ, expressed in ever maturing service to Christ in the lives of others.
 
Once per month, different people involved in The Discipleship Initiative will post their own stories about the impact of discipleship in their own lives, and the lives of others. I hope you will make this blog a regular staple of your online diet, as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission together!
 
All blessings,
 

Tom PfizenmaierTom Pfizenmaier
Associate Professor of Formation and Leadership Development,
Director of Formation and Leadership Development,
Dean of the Hamilton Campus

 

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After Santa Fe: Talking to Your Child about Tragedy

May 23, 2018

After Santa Fe: Talking to Your Child about Tragedy

Dr. Karen Mason, Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology

The Santa Fe school shooting brings home, yet again, the violent nature of our society. At a distance, we pray for the families newly devastated by After Santa Fe: Talking to Your Child about Tragedyloss and for hope and healing within their communities. Closer to home, parents in the general public wonder how they are to approach the sensitive topic of school shootings with their own children. As you care for the needs of the young and tender hearts in your life, consider the following tips:
  1. Be their best source of information. While it may be tempting to protect your child from knowing that bad things happen, it is best that they get the news from you rather than from someone else. You will be able to share your conviction that God is still sovereign and is with us even in the midst of tragedy. One way to start the conversation is to ask what your child already knows. Ask “what have you heard about …?”
     
  2. Be truthful. This does not mean that you need to share every detail. Share only what your child can understand at his or her age.
     
  3. Talk about everything you and your child’s school and community are doing to keep your child safe. Stick to your mealtime and bedtime routines as much as possible. This helps children feel safe.
     
  4. Monitor your child’s access to media. She or he doesn’t need continual exposure to the event. Young children might think that the tragedy is happening over and over.
     
  5. Listen to your child’s feelings about the event again and again. Younger children might want to draw pictures about their feelings. You can share your feelings, too. All humans have an emotional reaction to tragedy. Children will be able to see that though you have feelings, you are able to continue on. Help build your child’s resilience, the ability to recover following a challenge. Share your faith in God’s sovereignty and how that comforts you when tragedy strikes. Help your child to understand that we can’t control everything but we can take responsibility for some things. Share what is good alongside what is bad. Mister Rogers would advise us to look for the helpers in the midst of the tragedy. Help your child find safe harbors. Build a strong family life. Nurture hope.

If you find your child is not bouncing back, finding a counselor who can help them further is a good idea.


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National Tragedy and Self-Care

May 22, 2018

National Tragedy and Self-Care

Dr. Jacqueline Dyer, Director, MA in Counseling Program, Boston Campus

When Santa Fe High School students and teachers went to school last Friday, they had no inclination of the devastation awaiting them. A student National Tragedy and Self-Carearmed with a shot gun and a pistol went to the school and opened fire on an art class. He murdered 10 people—8 students and 2 teachers—and wounded at least 10 others.

The details and motivations of the attack are now beginning to emerge. With them, reporters tell and retell the story and victim reports with increasing specificity and with a frequency that can traumatize, or add to the trauma of some listeners. The unintended result is that these knowledgeable sources may fail to help the broader community as it struggles both to know “Why?” and to feel some possible restoration of their shattered sense of safety.

Those affected by trauma may experience shock, numbness, anger, fear, anxiety, grief and loss, irritability, and/or a sense of “unreality.” The younger the person affected by the event, the more likely it is that behavioral issues will manifest (e.g., aggression, hyperactivity or changes in attention). Tragedy can also provoke a crisis of faith. When the “why?” is not easily answered, some may begin to question if God is truly just. Unanswered “whys” turn into questions about God’s goodness and power. Extreme distress and crises of faith may lead to suicidal thoughts.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but includes examples of the range of responses we, or those close to us, may experience after a traumatizing event like this. In fact, these reactions may appear whether we are directly or peripherally involved. In the aftermath of tragedy and in spite of the never-ending news stories, it becomes important to consider how to take care of ourselves. Here are just a few ideas that can get us moving in a healthier direction:  

  1. Turn off the news. Once you feel you have learned what you need to know for the moment, step away from the news cycle. When you’ve had time to process the information, you may again be ready for new updates.  
     
  2. Get moving. Engage in your favorite form of physical activity to clear your mind and vent your emotions. Physical activity like walking, running or cycling, releases natural chemicals in the body that increase our sense of well-being.
     
  3. Reach out to family and friends. Staying connected can reduce or eliminate our sense of isolation when dealing with devastation. An important variation of this is staying connected to our faith communities. Among fellow believers, we might find answers to questions—answers we cannot find on our own, and the Bible encourages us to remain connected.
     
  4. Pray. Prayer is not mentioned last because it gets done after everything else. Rather, we remember best the last thing we saw, read or heard; so including prayer last may give it the strongest echo in our memories. Of all the relationships that keep us grounded, prayer keeps us connected to the one who can take our anger, tears, worries and more. Over time, our prayerful encounters with God can help us find the restoration we need in our attempts to return to life after the tragedy.
     

Dr. Jacqueline T. Dyer is Assistant Professor of Counseling, Director of Counseling and Academic Support Initiatives and teaches at the seminary’s Boston Campus. She holds a Ph.D. from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and an M.A in Urban Ministry Leadership from Gordon-Conwell. She formerly was Assistant Professor and Field Coordinator at Eastern Nazarene College, and an Adjunct Professor at Simmons, Salem State and Wheelock Colleges of Social Work. She has served in clinical and supervisory positions at Family Intervention Team, Abundant Life Counseling Center, Roxbury Preparatory and Edward Brooke Charter Schools, Cambridge Public Schools and Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership. In addition, she is on the leadership team for Clergy Women United of the Black Ministerial Alliance.


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Reasons to Live: Become the Beacon of Hope to Those Who Have No Hope with Dr. Karen Mason

March 16, 2018

Reasons to Live: Become the Beacon of Hope to Those Who Have No Hope

Reasons to Live: Become the Beacon of Hope to Those Who Have No Hope

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the final of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live: The Gospel and Our Faith in Christ Offer Hope with Dr. Karen Mason

March 15, 2018

Reasons to Live: The Gospel and Our Faith in Christ Offer Hope

Reasons to Live: The Gospel and Our Faith in Christ Offer Hope

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the fourth of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live: The Hope of Christ with Dr. Karen Mason

March 14, 2018

Reasons to Live: The Hope of Christ

Reasons to Live: The Hope of Christ

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the third of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live with Dr. Karen Mason: Episode 2

March 13, 2018

Reasons to Live: Episode 2

Reasons to Live: Episode 2

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the second of five episodes.

 



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Reasons to Live: Discover How Hope Can Help Alleviate Despair with Dr. Karen Mason

March 12, 2018

Reasons to Live: Discover How Hope Can Help Alleviate Despair

Reasons to Live: Discover How Hope Can Help Alleviate Despair

Karen Mason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Psychology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Author of Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors (2014, IVP)

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, Dr. Karen Mason is featured in Discover the Word's Reasons to Live podcast addressing suicide prevention. Listen below for the first of five episodes.

 



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"A Tribute to Billy Graham" by Dr. Garth M. Rosell

February 22, 2018

A Tribute to Billy Graham


Dr. Garth M. Rosell, Senior Research Professor of Church History

It is difficult to imagine a world without Billy Graham. For the better part of a century, his has been the voice that everyone recognized; his has been the character that everyone admired; and his has been the message that gave hope to thousands around the globe. He walked among kings and presidents but he never lost the common touch. He preached to millions but never lost his own sense of humility. He enjoyed access to the rich and pA Tribute to Billy Grahamowerful but lived modestly in his rustic Black Mountain home. 

Like John Wesley before him, he made the entire world his parish. Billy Graham "will go down in history,"1 Martin Marty has suggested, "as the best known, most traveled, most influential, and in many ways most representative evangelical Protestant" in recent history. Dozens of new ministry initiatives and organizational structures, from Christianity Today and The Hour of Decision to The Billy Graham Pavilion at the New York World's Fair, have been inspired by his vision; scores of books and articles have flowed from his pen; numerous world leaders have sought his advice; major conferences and congresses, from Berlin and Lausanne to Amsterdam, have been held under his auspices; and (what is perhaps of greatest significance) hundreds of thousands of men, women, boys and girls have responded to the gospel invitation he has extended so faithfully at the close of every service. 

Those of us who are part of the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary community have been especially blessed by his life and ministry. Not only was he one of our principal founders but also he served faithfully for many years on our Board of Trustees and spoke at many of our most important gatherings.

"I have read," wrote Billy Graham at the end of his autobiography, Just As I Am, "that Johann Sebastian Bach ended each composition with these words: Soli Deo Gloria–'To God alone be the glory.' Those are my words as well, at the end of this project." One could hardly find a more appropriate epitaph to characterize the life and work of one of the true giants of our time.

 1 Martin E. Marty, "A Surprising Revolutionary," in Christianity Today (November 13, 1995), p. 27.

 

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Gordon-Conwell’s Long-Standing Position on Women and Ministry Preparation

February 05, 2018

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.

President & Coleman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics

In the light of recent public statements and social media exchanges regarding women seminary faculty, I want to clarify the longstanding position of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In light of our multidenominational identity, Gordon-Conwell fully affirms and respects the rights of denominations and churches to set their own standards for ordination. At the same time, it has long been our position to strongly affirm both our women students who come to us to pursue theological education and our women faculty who help provide it. We believe that the privilege of teaching and studying the Word of God at seminary knows no gender distinction, and that, indeed, the perspectives of both genders are essential for the fullest understanding of biblical texts, incisive theological reflection, and healthy community.

We fully affirm and rejoice in the contribution of our women faculty. As women created in the image of God, we as a seminary community are deeply blessed by their intellectual prowess, ardent pursuit of holiness and deep witness to the love of Jesus Christ in the communal life we share together. We would be deeply impoverished without their leadership, guidance and presence among us.

While we at Gordon-Conwell recognize that there has been, is, and will continue to be, robust debate around the issue of women’s ordination to the ministry, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the women who come to us for training to the ministries for which God is calling them. Most especially, we as a seminary administration, faculty, staff and students stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our women faculty who have dedicated their lives to the training of both men and women for Christian ministry.

Dennis Hollinger, Ph.D.

President & Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics

 

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