Friday, October 16, 2020

listening in mission

Leaving a role involves a stream of letting go’s. Yesterday was a letting go of Listening in Mission.

When I arrived at KCML in 2015, the hope was, in the words of the Council of Assembly Convenor, that my passion for contemporary mission and leadership would equip church leaders for today’s world.

With these words of invitation ringing in my ears, Mark Johnston and I looked together afresh at the existing Mission Course offered at KCML. We decided to experiment with our shared passion for contemporary mission and leadership in three ways.

  • first, given our location in the Presbyterian Church, we redesigned the course around the 5 faces of mission
  • second, we redesigned the assessment, increasing the focus on equipping leaders in the practice of mission. This involved a paired assignment, one in year 1, another in year 2, in which our interns formed small groups in their local churches to listen, discern and act in mission.
  • third, we wrapped tutorial support around the assignment. We wanted to provide just-in-time learning, walking alongside interns as they sought to lead in mission. This required us to decrease lecture content. It also required the development of online learning. KCML had no video-conferencing capacity or learning management capacity, so I had to do some self-learning, finding suitable learning platforms (the most recent prior learning technology improvement at KCML had been a binding machine to spiral bind printed notes!).

As a result, I found myself leading the Year 1 interns in Listening in Mission. Over four online learning sessions, I modelled missional spiritual practices and supported interns as they gathered a small group in their local context, to enact the same 4 learning sessions locally, teaching missional spiritual practices to listen, discern and act in their local context.

After a few years, Mark and I realised we might have stumbled upon a stand-alone, online professional learning option. We had ministers noting to us that KCML interns were learning new things about mission. So why not offer the assignment, the written resources and the cohort experience to ministers? Using the online technologies, they could be supported by KCML in listening, discerning and acting in their local context. They could learn with us and from each other, across different Presbyteries.

The result has been three consecutive years of Listening in Mission as life-long learning, advertised through Presbyteries, the PCANZ facebook and at the Connect conferences.

listeninginmission

I’ve even made little video’s to try and spread the word.

listening in mission from steve taylor on Vimeo.

So yesterday’s last Listening in Mission class online was a letting go. There was a wondering (with anxiety), about the future of my gifts in teaching, along with Listening in Mission at KCML. A sense of grief, because I’ve loved this part of the role, being able to engage local contexts. A sense of joy and privilege at what has happened, the resources developed, the insights gained.

In some ways, it was a simple innovation, offering a defined piece of learning online. And the numbers add up

  • 8 – the number of online Listening in Mission cohorts I have taught in the last 5 years (5 cohorts of year 1 interns, 3 cohorts of ministers and church leaders)
  • 50 – the number of leaders, formed around mission practices (30 interns and 20 ministers/church leaders)
  • 300 – the total number of participants, given that each of the 50 leaders was required to gather a small group of 4-6.
  • 50 – the number of churches invited into mission experimentation, supported by KCML to learn locally in mission.

As the Council of Assembly Convenor noted – contemporary mission equipping church leaders for today’s world indeed!

As part of our ongoing action-reflection and leaving a record, we at KCML have written about Listening in Mission as one of our innovations in a number of places.

  • Mark Johnston, “Trusting the missio Dei in the midst of mission innovation education,” ANVIL 36, (2)
  • Steve Taylor and Rosemary Dewerse, “Unbounding learning communities: Ako-empowered research in life-long ministerial formation,” Practical Theology 13 (4), 2020, 400-412. Doi.org/10.1080/1756073X.2020.1787005.
  • Steve Taylor and Mark Johnston,“The missio Dei embodied in local community ministry in Scotland,” Ecclesial Futures 2020, 1 (2) (accepted for publication).
Posted by steve at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

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