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InDepth – Reimagining Theological Education

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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Prioritizing Stewardship for God’s Kingdom Mission

When this InDepth blog launched in April 2019 we envisioned a site that would provide some “behind the scenes” insights into Winebrenner Theological Seminary and our collaborative partners.  Over the past two and a half years the site has provided a deeper and broader perspective about the mission and work of Winebrenner. Many of the...
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Partnership between Winebrenner Seminary & Churches of God, General Conference Global Reach

The Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC) recently highlighted the partnership between Winebrenner and the CGGC Global Reach in the fall 2021 issue of the Global Advocate.  You can read the full article by clicking here.
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Co-Mission & InDepth: From Pipelines to Platforms

Over the past few weeks I’ve been exploring our new digital platform, Co-Mission.  This week’s post helps place Co-Mission into the larger organizational framework at Winebrenner Seminary.  I’ve written about the transition from “pipelines to platforms” previously and you can access those posts by clicking on any of the following:      From Pipelines to Platforms: Shifting the...
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Co-Mission: The Starfish and the Digital Platform

I recently finished reading The Starfish and the Spirit by Lance Ford, Rob Wegner, and Alan Hirsch.  There are many great ideas within that book but the one that comes to mind most often is central to the overall message of the book – every initiative within a true Kingdom organization should carry the key elements (or...
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Co-Mission: Enhancing Collaborative Relationships

Last week I introduced Winebrenner’s new digital platform, Co-Mission, which exists for the purpose of reframing the conversations about discipleship and theological education in the Church and Academy. Over the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege of sharing the Co-Mission site with students, pastors, Trustees, and donors.  Once we go through the “how does it work?”...
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Co-Mission: Reframing Missional Discipleship

Several months ago while exploring the various aspects of the “business model canvas” I introduced Winebrenner’s efforts to develop a digital platform (you can read that post by clicking here).  As a follow-up, I’m excited to share that we are ready to announce Co-Mission! In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more about the purpose,...
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Creativity Precedes Innovation: Reprise

In the early season of COVID-19 I was struggling to reconcile the balance between change, innovation, and creativity.  Many hours were invested in reading, researching, talking about, and praying about how these three items intersect.  The fruit of that struggle was a brief series with the title “Creativity Precedes Innovation.”   If I would write these...
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Back to School: Coda

Earlier in this series Amy Kinney, Winebrenner’s Director of Enrollment Management, noted that Winebrenner has started the fall 2021 term with record graduate enrollment (you can read the full post by clicking here).  But, high enrollment by itself is what Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and The Startup Way may call a “vanity metric”...
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Back to School: Student Story

I am already a pastor (20 years!) but have always felt that my counseling skills were sub-par. I’m in the Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling (MACC) program so my experience in ministry plus the additional licensure in counseling will allow me to serve the people God loves in new and needed ways. How God...
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Back to School: Shifting Enrollment and the Future

Here’s the headline: Winebrenner Theological Seminary experiences record graduate enrollment in Fall 2021. But there is so much more to this amazing story than just numbers; there are stories. Stories of students, stories of overcoming challenges, and mostly, the story of an amazing, provider God, the author of all stories. In the fall of 2018...
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Back to School: Resourcing Students

The Winebrenner Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students, has made the decision to shift library resources. Effective Fall 2021, we now collaborate with the Digital Theological Library for research resources. For the last several years, Winebrenner Seminary has been collecting data on library usage through course evaluations. Because of...
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Back to School: Student Story

In January of 2020 God called me into the classroom of Global Vision Christian School PA Campus as the Biblical Studies teacher for international senior high students. Having a Bachelors of Arts of Religious Studies with a Pastoral Emphasis through University of Findlay and Winebrenner Theological Seminary was not going to be enough for in...
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Everything starts with…Governance, Part Three

In addition to serving as President of Winebrenner Theological Seminary I also have one year remaining in my time as a member of the Board of Trustees for Emmaus University located near Cap Haitien, Haiti, and this year I am concluding my term as Chair of the Board. While a member of the Board, and...
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Everything starts with…Governance, Part Two

Over the past few months I’ve attended the funerals of three former members of Winebrenner’s Board of Trustees.  Each was a well-respected man in their particular sphere of influence and recognized for serving the Seminary with some level of distinction.  The time spent traveling to the funerals and back home provided an opportunity to reflect...
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Everything starts with…Governance

As you read the first few words of the title of this post you may have concluded the phrase “everything starts with” either with “mission” or even “Jesus’ Great Commission.” However, in an organization like Winebrenner (legally, a non-profit entity) all items start with our Board of Trustees, or our Governance. The Board is responsible...
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Creativity, Innovation & Re-Organization

I was recently in a meeting when someone used the term “entrepreneurial” to describe what they’ve seen taking place at Winebrenner over the past year or so. I received this as an incredible compliment and affirmation of the ways in which our faculty, staff, and administration have responded to the unique challenges of 2020 and...
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Creativity, Innovation & Accelerators

Like many organizations, Winebrenner Seminary is slowly emerging from some of the challenges and restrictions that were present over the past year. Others have written about how COVID-19 impacted their lives and/or ministries. As we reflect upon the past year, it’s worth examining how COVID-19 changed things. One of the most helpful ways that I’ve...
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Creativity, Innovation & Prototyping

Organizational leaders are challenged to proactively move the mission forward while simultaneously being responsive to changing circumstances.  This dual commitment requires an understanding of creativity and innovation, something that I’ve written about previously (you can access by clicking on any of the following): Creativity Precedes Innovation: An Introduction Creativity Precedes Innovation: From Chaos to Creativity Creativity...
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Theological Education as Discipleship, Part Three

In the midst of a recent planning meeting the conversation shifted to ways we tend to think about changes within organizations. Very often when we are confronted with change we assume that in order for something to be different we will have to remove and replace what was previously done (think about this as “substitutional...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Cost Structures

Over the past few months I’ve been working through the various building blocks of the “business model canvass.”  You can read the individual sections by clicking on any of the following: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, and key partnerships. The ninth, and final, building block of the...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Key Partnerships

We are shifting our focus of attention toward key partnerships in order to explore the level of organizational interdependency required to make a business model “work.”  The authors of Business Model Generation suggest that “it is illogical for a company to own all of the resources or perform every activity by itself.”  Various types of...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Key Activities

Over the past month I’ve been exploring the “business model canvas” as a way to better understand the unique components at work within Winebrenner Theological Seminary. I find Jeremiah 1:10 to serve as a fitting biblical text for this series: “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Key Resources

I was talking with another seminary president recently about Winebrenner’s 2018 decision to sell our building facility to The University of Findlay. While, on the surface, that decision may seem strictly financial, it has greatly enhanced our ability to carry out the entirety of our mission. In business terminology, we’ve been able to leverage the...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Revenue Streams

There’s no question that we are living through challenging times and no evidence that the future will be any simpler to navigate. It’s very common to encounter the words revenue and sustainability in the same paragraph or conversation.  In order for an organization’s mission to continue indefinitely into an uncertain future there must be financial...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Building a Digital Platform

Like many seminaries accredited by the Association for Theological Schools (ATS) Winebrenner Theological Seminary submitted a request to the Lilly Endowment for Phase One of the “Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative.” Winebrenner’s request is for the creation of a “digital platform” that will accompany our $300/month tuition recently approved by the Board of Trustees. Each organization...
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To Uproot and Tear Down…To Build and to Plant: Channels

In this post I’m continuing to work through the various aspects of the business model canvas (BMC) that I introduced several weeks ago. If you’re just joining the conversation you can read about the first two aspects by clicking here: Customer Segments & Value Proposition. Before exploring Channels I want to provide a few thoughts...
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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.