Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Perspectives Class

In my last post (we won't talk about how long ago that was), I mentioned that I was working towards coordinating the Perspectives class.  Things are moving along for the class to happen in the Fall semester, so I thought it would be good to tell a little more about it.

Just a few years ago when we were chatting with some leaders at our missions sending agency, we talked about our feeling that the Christians of our part of NY misunderstand mission work somewhat.  They are somewhat more supportive of what we call need-based ministry- work that cares for felt needs of people who are poor, oppressed, hungry, handicapped, etc.  We felt some resistance to the nature of our music ministry, which focuses more on sharing the truth of the gospel with those who are spiritually poor, oppressed, hungry and yes, even handicapped.  In addition many will argue that the need is so great here at home, we hadn't ought to go overseas to do ministry at all.  Our leadership suggested that we try to get the Perspectives class to come to the area, because it could address some of those concerns and help to broaden the understanding of kingdom work.

At that time, I looked into bringing the course to the area but it seemed like too long and intimidating a process.  For one thing, neither of us had taken the course, although we were familiar with the core teachings.  To coordinate one has to first take the course at Certificate level, which costs some money and takes 4 months.  So that idea was scrapped and we tried to start a Bible study which taught some of those principles through other means.  That was not well attended, and let's face it, Todd and I are not gifted Bible study leaders.  That's why we were trying to go to the mission field in support roles!  But I digress.

A couple of years later, I suggested to the pastor at our new church that we ought to see the course run here.  He agreed and asked if I would do it, but I said I couldn't because the process was too long, and we were hoping to leave for the field.  When that didn't happen, I volunteered myself and the church supported me to go down to Lancaster, PA (that was a long drive all by myself!) and train to be a coordinator.

The job turned out to be a bigger one than I had realized.  My original start date as I mentioned in the last blog was January, but it quickly became clear that we could never do the work required in such a short time period, and at Christmastime.  Undaunted, I have pushed forward, formed a committee, and am about to submit our plans for a fall course.  That's where you come in.

This class is for everyone who loves God.  Although it started as a way to prepare young professionals for the mission field, it's purpose has expanded.  It will train you to be a better pray-er, welcomer, sender and mobilizer.  It is for pastors and people training for ministry, and they can earn M.Div credit for it.  It's for missions committee members, for parents & friends of missionaries, people who have friends or neighbors from other countries, for people who think God is worthy of worship...it's for you.

I don't consider myself a leader.  I've taken gifts inventories- as much as I'd like that gift to show up, it doesn't.  This shows in choices I've made- I don't volunteer myself for leadership, but for service.  For this class though, I am serving by leading.  I got the training, and I have spent the last 10 months, working to build up a support base and a committee.  I'm leading meetings.  I am approaching all sorts of people.  I even went to Potsdam with my friend Kelly last fall and taught one of the sessions for their Perspectives class!  I'm excited that I have formed a great committee and am starting to see some energy around the idea of the class.

I still need help, though.  One position we have not yet filled is that of Prayer Coordinator. Perspectives is a spiritual exercise, and it challenges students to make life change based on what they are learning.  We need it covered in effective prayer.  It would be best if we had someone dedicated to presenting the class for this.  And of course, you can pray for us.
Next, we need students!  Please help me promote the class.  If a member of my recruiting group can come and speak to your Bible Study, adult Sunday School class, missions committee, quarterly meeting, etc., we would love to!  We have a great line-up of instructors for you from all walks of life.  We need to fill the room (it seats 40) to keep our costs for the class reasonable.
Finally, if you can't commit to take the class this time, consider donating to make it possible for someone else.  I have already had young people tell me that they'd like to take the course, but don't think they will be able to afford it (it's a steal at $275 when most college credit courses are $500).  We're not set up for donations yet, but if you let me know I will get you that information when it becomes available, or you can just let someone know you'd like to help them privately.

Please take 2 minutes (you've made it this far) to watch this video and understand more about the course.