NORTHERN STUDENTS PUBLISH BOOK ON FORMING A CULTURE OF WISDOM

For several Northern Seminary students, finishing a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program involves more than earning a degree. It also includes becoming a published author.

The DMin in New Testament Context cohort that began in 2017 has just published Wise Church: Forming a Wisdom Culture in Your Local Church, edited by professor of New Testament Scot McKnight and Daniel J. Hanlon.

“The very prospect of writing a chapter that will get published motivates students,” says Dr. McKnight. “Add to this the challenge of living up to their peer evaluations and responses and  we have a good mixture of ingredients that challenge students to do good work.”

Each cohort focuses on a  topic of interest to the professors, the students, and the church. A previous cohort published in 2018 Conflict Management and the Apostle Paul, edited by Scot McKnight and Greg Mamula. For the newest book, McKnight suggested the theme of wisdom. “Increasingly we are a youth-icized church culture and increasingly we are devaluing the wisdom of the gray hairs and bald people who have so much to give to our churches. So we worked on wisdom.”

The students and professors worked together to divide up the topic, with each student choosing a theme to write on. “For some of the students, their chapter gave them an opportunity to flesh out in briefer form what they have been working on for four years in the program,” says Hanlon. Chapters address issues such as how wisdom relates to evangelism, spiritual formation, racial justice, and politics.

“A very rich part of the process for this cohort was being able to discuss the project while on our trip to Israel,” another feature of the DMin program, says Hanlon. “During the ten days there the editors discussed the topics and ideas the students were already generating. On our last night we sat around a big table in Jerusalem and worked things out in more detail. By the time we sat together in the seminar for discussing each contribution, the cohort had become a group of close friends.”

After nearly four years in the program together, in one seminar students presented their papers and offered each other feedback and questions. They then had a couple of months to revise before the volume editors reviewed all the chapters.

From contributing to the book, McKnight says, “the students gain the joy of working together on something tangible, something they see in print, something they give to their spouses and families and churches and friends and say, ‘Hey, this is what we did in our cohort.’ They learn to think about an important topic in how it impacts church life. Take Brandon Evans’s pondering of how economics works in a church, or how letter writing can be a pastoral calling as sketched by Jeremy Berg, or how music can be examined through the lens of wisdom as Julie Murdock wrote. I’m so proud when I see the faces of the students as they look at their own writing.”

Beyond the unique experience for the students, those who contributed to Wise Church hope the book will serve the church well. “This book doesn’t offer a blueprint or framework for a wisdom culture,” Hanlon says. “Wisdom can’t be achieved simply by reading these 13 chapters. But they do lay a foundation, point the way and expose readers to ways of thinking about church life and ministry that will shape wisdom.”

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