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InDepth – Reimagining Theological Education

Graduation 2022

On Saturday, July 30, 2022, Winebrenner Theological Seminary held its annual Commencement. This year, twenty students graduated, including six from the MA in Clinical Counseling, two with a Master of Divinity, and twelve with the MA in Practical Theology. One attender called the ceremony “warm and friendly.” Since it marked the first major group to...
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An Update from the Churches of God, General Conference Triennial

Last week I was a delegate at the triennial General Conference sessions of the Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC). The theme for the week was “Reimagine” and provided a great opportunity to connect with many students, partners, and givers. As a bit of a pre-conference, on Monday, July 25, we gathered in a room...
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Development & Faithful Activities: Believing in the Promises of God

The Old Testament character of Abraham is key to three major world religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Within Christianity, we see many places that Abraham is noted for his faith – specifically, Hebrews 11 shares many actions which Abraham completed “by faith.” Going further, Paul writes that he is a wonderful example of faithfulness...
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Development & Faithful Activities: Financial Stewardship

I was at a gathering of seminary leaders last month and very often the conversation turns to the lack of resources instead of recognizing God’s abundance. This is a recurring theme. As I was preparing to write this post I found what I wrote a few years ago: The other day I was in an...
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Development & Faithful Activities: Defining the terms

In Galatians 5, “faithfulness” is included as one of the “fruit of the Spirit.” An organization that is Jesus-centric should produce similar fruit, including faithfulness. So, how can we think about faithfulness within a context focused upon theological education? Our daily tasks work toward some goal, whether we are intentional about it or not. Unfortunately,...
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Development & Faithful Activities

In the previous series I introduced the idea of “faithful activity” as a way to fulfill our mission of equipping leaders for service in God’s kingdom. In the coming weeks we’ll be exploring that concept in the context of Development at Winebrenner Seminary. Stay tuned! – Dr. Brent Sleasman, President, Winebrenner Theological Seminary
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Stewardship: “The kingdom of heaven is like…”; Summary & Conclusion

The past few weeks we’ve been exploring what is often referred to as the “Parable of the Talents.” This story told by Jesus exists in two versions within the New Testament – Matthew 25:14-30 & Luke 19:11-27. Before sharing some concluding thoughts about this story, here is a summary of what we’ve explored so far...
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Stewardship: “The kingdom of heaven is like…”; Part Three

For the past few weeks we’ve been exploring Matthew 25 and the “Parable of the Talents.” A second version of this parable is found in Luke 19:11-27. One significant difference between these two accounts is found in Luke 19:13 where the landowner called ten of his servants together and gave each their resources to steward....
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Stewardship: “The kingdom of heaven is like…”; Part Two

We are continuing our exploration of Matthew 25:14-30. A few basic coordinates are helpful as we unpack this passage in relation to stewardship and theological education. A helpful way to interpret a parable of Jesus is to find who or what represents God in the story – in this case, God is represented by the...
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Stewardship: “The kingdom of heaven is like…”

Winebrenner exists to equip leaders for service in God’s kingdom. Since this is our commitment, it makes sense to explore what that kingdom is like! There are multiple times when Jesus begins with the words “The kingdom of heaven is like…” and then proceeds to tell a story about workers in a vineyard or a...
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Shifting: From “Organization” to “Movement”

You may have encountered the following sentence at some point in your life journey: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” This not only makes for good theology but also for good business practice for faith-based organizations (as a side note, the origin of this sentence is in dispute but I’ll openly acknowledge...
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Shifting: From “Institution” to “Organization”

In the first few chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis, God creates. As he creates he recognizes his own handiwork as “good” and proceeds to the next new creation. We are surrounded by people, animals, plants, and nature uniquely created by God and designed to intentionally to fulfill his purposes. Created in his...
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Shifting: Series Recap

Over the past few years we’ve provided some insights into various shifts we’re making at Winebrenner Seminary. You can read more about our approach to benchmarking and decision-making: Shifting Benchmarks & Decision-Making: From External to Internal Markers Shifting Benchmarks & Decision-Making: From External to Internal Markers, Part 2 Shifting Benchmarks & Decision-Making: From External to...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship: Summary & Conclusion

The education offered by Winebrenner Seminary has always played a role in the Christian discipleship process. However, over the past few years we’ve made an intentional shift to approach theological education as discipleship.  As a learning organization we are committed to growing in our understanding of our own commitments. Over the past few weeks we’ve...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship: Interventions in Education

In viewing education through the lens of discipleship, a clear understanding of the purpose of interventions in education emerges. In general, interventions in education include the steps teachers and/or institutions take to remove barriers to students’ learning. Similarly, discipleship is about following Jesus and walking with others to help them come to Christ, and yes,...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship: Clinical Counseling

The Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling (MACC) program offered at Winebrenner Theological Seminary is specifically designed for Christians with deep compassion for people, and who feel “called” to the counseling profession. Students who enroll in this program typically desire to serve their community as professionally trained, licensed counselors. The program aims to prepare students...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship: Counseling & Addictions

What first comes to your mind when I say the word addiction? What mental images start to formulate and what associations start to surface? Prior to enrolling in “Addictions and Counseling” last trimester, I often immediately associated addiction with the words: drugs and substance abuse. Not too far behind, images of needles and middle school...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship: Transformation & Growth

Recently, I walked along an oceanfront beach and studied the shells. At first, I picked up the more perfect shapes but gradually, my eye was drawn to a particular shell that had been well tumbled by the waves. The original form was still present. A curving spiral still recognizable but with its sharp protective points...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship: The Role of Content & Information

Several series within these blog pages have covered seminary education as discipleship. As the idea has been discussed with faculty and staff at Winebrenner Seminary, several major questions repeatedly arise. One such question is “what is the role of content in the classroom context?” Answers range from seminary education as discipline of the mind to...
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Exploring Theological Education as Discipleship

What does it mean to refer to theological education as discipleship? Based upon several years worth of conversations it seems like the answer depends upon from which side of the conversation someone is approaching the question. For those anchored in the local church, the answer often challenges assumptions about education related to unnecessary difficulty and...
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On the Path Toward Financial Sustainability

It has been said that our present moment is simply a combination of the decisions and choices we have made in the past and, in many ways, that is true for Winebrenner Seminary. Over the past six years we have made multiple decisions – some major and many small – but there are three that...
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A Mission-based Tuition Model: Update

One of the ongoing stories that we’ve been chronicling through these InDepth posts is Winebrenner’s continued enrollment growth over the past few years. If we mark the summer 2019 as the “low point” in enrollment, we’ve been seeing a steady increase in the number of students each term. You can read more about the first...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Conclusion

Creativity is a central part of what it means to be human. As Spring approaches (slower in some areas than others!) we will be met by a variety of flowers and new growth that will all look unique and beautiful in their own ways. If God desired all of his creation to look the same,...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Funding

Anytime I hear someone use the phrase “no money, no mission” I find myself getting frustrated. Typically, this is stated by someone suggesting that if a particular organization “doesn’t raise enough money” then their unique mission will cease and the organization risks closure. However, I’ve been in settings in which Chris Meinzer, Senior Director and...
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Reimagining Theological Education for a Different World

I attended Winebrenner Seminary in the 1990’s. I don’t recall the tuition rate at that time, but I do remember and appreciate the support I received to make my education possible. The Illinois Conference of the Churches of God, General Conference supplied one-half of my tuition costs. My home congregation, the East Harrison Street Church...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Finances

The theme in this series has been innovation as Winebrenner Theological Seminary works to equip leaders for service in God’s Kingdom. As a team, we’ve worked to be more flexible and to remove obstacles toward fulfilling our mission. A key component to reimagining finances in theological education involved lowering the cost for students so one...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Enrollment & Admissions

Innovation: this is the focus of our current blog series on reimagining theological education. Walk with me, if you will, for a few moments into the real life of three of our current students. Jim had a 25 year career in the medical field. Jim knew early in life he was called to serve God’s...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Academics

There are a variety of ways to innovate theological education. The desired outcome for all such innovation is the same across the landscape of most seminaries and universities. Innovation seeks to bring a greater educational impact to an increasing number of future ministers in a way that expands God’s kingdom. While there may be more...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Collaboration

One of the saddest conversations I’ve had in my time at Winebrenner was with a recently retired seminary administrator. We were discussing some of the approaches we’re taking at Winebrenner and the topic of partnerships emerged. His shocking comment was “we collaborated when we had to but most of the time we tried to do...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Priming the Conversation

Like many families during the “stay at home” phase of COVID-19, we looked at the walls in our house and eventually took on a home improvement project – in our case it was stripping the wallpaper and repainting our kitchen. Taking the time to prepare and prime the walls was an essential step for the...
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Reimagining Theological Education: Introduction

In the opening sections of God Dreams Will Mancini explores various ways an active imagination is vital for us to be fully human and experience God’s work in our lives and communities. Mancini’s focus is on how we can develop a God-inspired vision for local churches and ministries. Too often, he writes, our visions and...
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In Memoriam: Dr. Richard Kern [former President of Winebrenner Theological Seminary]

Like many in the Churches of God, General Conference, I was familiar with Dick Kern’s name from seeing his book about John Winebrenner, but never met him in person. My first direct interaction with him was in the mid-90’s when I was his student at the University of Findlay in a course he co-taught with...
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Kingdom Transformation: Juan Martinez

We started this series with the question: What does it mean to bring our local churches, communities, and organizations into greater alignment with God’s kingdom priorities?  Juan Martinez is a recent Winebrenner graduate who is actively working for the purpose of helping his context look more and more like the Kingdom. One of the joys...
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Kingdom Transformation: Alex Rompilla

We are continuing our journey through various expressions of what it means to bring about “kingdom transformation” in local ministry contexts. Again, the premise of this series is that by following God’s kingdom priorities as laid out in the New Testament, our communities and churches become a greater reflection of God’s kingdom. Thus, making us...
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Kingdom Transformation: Caleb & Christina Acosta

As I noted last week, throughout this month we are focusing on Winebrenner’s vision of helping Christ-focused servants transform the world. Long before graduating from Winebrenner Seminary in 2020, Caleb and Christina Acosta were witnesses of God’s kingdom change. Winebrenner’s commitment to discipleship and spiritual development provided a great learning environment for these agents of kingdom...
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Kingdom Transformation

It is quite common to hear or read someone from Winebrenner exploring what it means to equip leaders for service in God’s kingdom. That’s a very good thing since that phrase reflects the language of our mission statement. We also frequently discuss our strategic commitments of collaborative relationships, contextual education, and communities of learners. Again,...
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Prioritizing Stewardship for God’s Kingdom Mission: Generosity

Jesus was a master story teller. The Gospel of Matthew shares one of Jesus’ stories in which a rich man leaves his wealth with his servants while he goes away on a journey (25:14-30).  You may already be familiar with the story. When the rich man returns, the first servant (who was originally given five...
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Prioritizing Stewardship for God’s Kingdom Mission: Student Story

In a previous InDepth post, you heard from Master of Divinity student, TJ de la Garza (click here to watch his video).  I invited TJ to share an update to his story as we continue through this series on stewardship. “We hath now a greater dependence on the grace of God than we had before…”...
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Prioritizing Stewardship for God’s Kingdom Mission: Holistic Stewardship

Over the past few weeks InDepth has featured ways in which Winebrenner is prioritizing the stewardship of financial resources (click to read part one or part two).  This week’s post considers ways in which students are being invited into a culture that encourages sound financial decisions regarding their own educational expenses.  Winebrenner’s commitment to making...
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Prioritizing Stewardship for God’s Kingdom Mission, Part 2

Organizations should continually organize and re-organize around mission and strategy. While many tend to prefer constancy and stability, it’s not a bad sign when an organization like Winebrenner Seminary continually is changing and growing…as long as the mission remains central to the changes. We are regularly inviting students, collaborative partners, and donors to join us...
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For Further Discussion

If you would like to talk further about any ideas shared through this InDepth blog, please email Winebrenner President, Dr. Brent C. Sleasman at brent.sleasman@winebrenner.edu.