Posted by: eliseanne | August 13, 2009

about elise…in the form of a seminary application

So. I have officially applied to Bethel Seminary, to be in their SemPM (1 night/week) program to get an MA in Community and Ministry Leadership.

Here’s a little of where I am at in some areas of life, as read in the seminary essays!

 Personal Statement

 

 Please write your response to the following topics (Please make it one and one half to two
typed pages, single spaced)

1. Describe your Christian experience, including conversion and significant factors in your spiritual formation.
I was born to parents who follow Jesus. My sister and I grew up learning of Him through their parenting, the faith expressions of extended family members, Bible stories, books, summer Bible schools and church services.

I truly had faith like a child; I agreed with and supported all that I was taught. By the fifth grade I was concerned for the salvation of my friends, and was an active recruiter for church and eventually youth group.

I switched from attending public school to attending a private Christian BGC high school in the seventh grade, through graduation. There I further cemented my foundational beliefs and moral guidelines and established a more independent belief in Jesus from that of my parents. I decided to be baptized in middle school and made a personal promise to never abandon my faith in Jesus.

For college I chose to attend a large public university. While I appreciated the grounding that my Christian education gave me, I felt trapped in a Christian sub-culture that looked inward instead of outward, that engaged with standards instead of the hurting and the lost. My education had felt pointless and empty. Attending public university was essential to my spiritual growth. I learned that evangelism is not a formula, and that the Gospel of Jesus is about journeying in life with others. God led me to a beautiful friend who was primed and ready to know a follower of Jesus who had answers to complex questions, but who didn’t force the issue, which is who I was at the time. Seeing her life change over the last six years as she trusts in Jesus is always edifying.

Since graduation two years ago, God has had a few new lessons for me to learn. Trusting God in the midst of life crisis and pain has formed and is forming me into a softer, more genuine follower. I believe now that my faith is not only about knowledge, or living, but is also about my heart connection with God outside of all else. Reexamining the tenets of my Christian upbringing is forming me into a follower who trusts more, and is more open to God’s leading and work. No matter how I question aspects of my first foundations, I know that God is involved and in control and will not forsake me, and God will empower me to keep my promise to not forsake God.

2. Describe your understanding of the task of ministry, previous ministry experiences, and your own sense of call.
I don’t agree that ministry is a task, or even a vocation. I believe that followers of Jesus are to model their lives after his, which involves loving God, and out of or through that, loving others. I think that ministry should be the life of followers of Jesus; we should love God and others in every aspect of life, with genuine direction from God. Whether that means God asks a person to work in a large corporation, loving the employees and clients through impacting the company toward justice, or it means God asks a person to work at a grass-roots community center for the sake of loving teenagers through education, mentorship, and community development, and loving the company leaders through demonstrating relational ministry and living justice.

I have been employed for two years as a youth worker at the above alluded-to Christian community center, and I lead the young adults ministry at my church. I was on the shepherding team of student leaders in Campus Crusade for Christ as a senior in college and I also led a student Bible study. My “official” ministry experience in high school also included several short-term mission trips.

God has always nurtured in me a heart for the marginalized and economically/socially oppressed. I believe that God called me to the community center for this time of my life out of that place in my heart as well as out of the many ways God wanted me to grow in an understanding of my walk with Jesus, through the teens we serve and my coworkers. God also grew in my husband and me a heart sensitive to the need for Bible translation in minority language groups outside of the US. We feel that God has called us to that passion, and we are praying for God to lead us in how that will manifest itself in our lives.

Some days I feel we are called specifically to join Wycliffe Bible Translators, be trained, and do the physical translations (my academic areas of interest and training are rhetoric and linguistics), and some days my heart is less focused, and more open to any direction God chooses to have our passion take us. Currently I am listening for God to guide my heart and my mind toward God’s calling for me and us in this new season of life of the next few years. I do not know what changes, if any, God is leading me or us to as I pursue seminary. 

3. Comment on your understanding of the mission of the Church and the role of the local church in that mission.
I believe that Jesus wants his followers to worship together and learn about him and about following him from one another. He refers to all those who follow him as his body, and his disciples refer to that as the church. Jesus gave his earthly work to his followers to continue, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. It is the responsibility and privilege of the body, or global church, to share their knowledge and experience of Jesus with others, modeling his life and seeking his kingdom’s values on this earth. I believe that local churches are to use their organized form to love others by reflecting Jesus’ kingdom values, through fighting injustice, aiding in equity of opportunity, establishing love and community amongst its people, etc. Local churches need to be involved in their local context while they are aware and involved in a larger or global context as well. They can provide amazing opportunities for face-to-face fellowship, biblical teaching, and community connections.

4. Explain why you want to pursue a seminary education.
Going to seminary or studying theology was never a goal of mine. I want to pursue a seminary education now because I want to develop more as a follower of Jesus and a member of a local community. I am a leader in several areas of my life of ministry, and I desire to know more about what that means and looks like. The Community and Ministry Leadership (CML) program sounds like it would better equip me in my job as well as my life, giving me the tools to do what I am doing now in a better way. I feel inadequate in my job as a youth worker and look forward to learning more. God is working in my heart on learning more about Jesus and the life he lived and the things he taught, and how they sync with where I am in life. I want to learn about living like him as I follow my heart and the passions God has given me.

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