Finally I received my MTh(Ed) from AGST Alliance in a folder over registered mail. I have graduated. It was an enjoyable, enlightening and enriching journey.
It was fun to meet fellow servants of God from pastors, lay leaders to lecturers of Bible Schools who want to pursue further equipping and increase of knowledge and skills on a part-time basis, while still in their respective job responsibilities or ministries. When you are together in class, and over meals and breaks, over several courses, or even travel together, you are sure to build friendships and acquaintances.
My classmates are mostly from Malaysia and Singapore but there are also those from Australia and USA. They are from different denominations, Bible Schools and missions. This makes our interactions and fellowship times interesting and exciting.
I learned a lot from the course modules which included spiritual formation and Christian education. Each module comprised a five day 9am to 5pm lecture phase, preceded by reading assignments, and followed by research assignments. The lecturers were helpful and facilitated our learning and treated us with graciousness and thoughtfulness. They knew the kind of struggles and challenges people in ministry faced in trying to juggle assignments and work.
The whole package created a learning environment that befits the degree we pursued. To be a good practitioner would require that I patiently and diligently seek what I learned to what I am doing. It comes from reflection-action-reflection in the journey of change. But the burden and speed of ministry means you do not have the time to reflect sufficiently to design something that is customised. It is always easier to find a package and use it. Besides having time, I only wished I was able to apply the insights gained with a coach’s or mentor’s help.
I must confess that towards the end I struggled a great deal with studying part-time. My grades were above average most of the time. But the tougher assignments at the tail end took a toll on me. I needed to dig deep, ask my friends for prayer support, and cry out to God for grace and wisdom and motivation to get over the line. By the grace of God, I finished the course, and graduated. It gave me a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, but it makes me think twice and pray thrice about taking out any further courses.
We were looking at different orientations towards curriculum development. In an article, Orientations to Curriculum Development for Church Education, Burt Branius listed 3 orientations: the preservative, productive and the participative approach. The preservative is focused of transmission of a highly valued content. The productive is oriented towards developing a curriculum that produces a certain kind of disciple or worker or community. The participative is centered on the learner and his needs and what he is most in need of at that life stage or situation. It is participative in the sense that the learner is more involved in the development of the curriculum. The conclusion of the discussion was that the ideal would be for most Christian faith communities to have some combination of all three. As a church we do have a faith to transmit(preservative); we do have growth outcomes we want to see in our members and in the community; and we do want to minister to the learners’ needs, both felt, hidden or developmental.
Meeting interesting people
Two persons that I was surprised to meet were Cheng Eng Hoon, pastor of Praise Evangelical Church, and Lau King Lang. In the course of conversation I found out that Pastor Cheng Eng Hwa was a brother of two committed lay leaders I knew from Church of True Light, Dr Samuel Cheng and Catherine Cheng. Small world. It was even more surprising when during lesson I heard a familiar name of a fellow blogger, Dr. Anthony Loke, affectionately called the “reb” as in rabbi, by his seminary students. He was mentioned by his wife King Lang during discussions in class! He blogs at Old Testament passion but I must add that Facebook has left quite a number of blogs like the walls of Jerusalem during the exile. Anthony also inherited my Arsenal jersey, when I almost gave up on Arsenal last year. 🙂
Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary in Penang. Air Asia and a shared cab brought me here at 1pm. The room is large and for two persons but I asked for a single room and there were none left, so they gave me this double room with a million dollar view from Batu Ferringhi. The AGST MTh(Ed) module I am attending is titled “Curriculum Design and Development in a Christian Faith Community”. In the three quarters- filled plane, I was speed-reading a borrowed book, “Mapping Out Curriculum In Your Church”, and once I settled in, I continued till I finished it at about 6pm. Having a phone camera is useful as I could take pics of some of the useful and more important charts and tables in the book.
Now it is close to 12midnight. I have had my dinner at the street hawker’s and it was cheap and delicious. I had met up with a new student, a mature Singapore pastor who had just joined the program(Welcome to the club of seniors in life long learning!). I had bathed and made sure all my pre-course work had been done. I feel tired and done for the day. Lord, may I awake completely refreshed and energized for the packed days ahead.