Rethinking Christian Higher Education : Socialization

From “The Forgotten Ways” by Alan Hirsh

Perhaps the single most significant source of the malaise of leadership in our day comes from the way, and the context, in which we form leaders.  For the most part, the would-be leader is withdrawn from the context environment, for up to seven years in some cases.  During that period they are subjected to an immense amount of complex information relating to the biblical disciplines, theology, ethics, church history, pastoral theology, etc.  And while the vast majority of this information is useful and correct, what is dangerous to discipleship in that setting is the actual socialization processes that the student undergoes along the way.  In effect, he or she is socialized out of ordinary life and develops a kind of language and thinking that is seldom understood and expressed outside the seminary.  It’s as if in order to learn about ministry and theology, we have our places of habitation and take a flight into the wonderfully abstracted world of abstraction, we fly around there for a long time, and then wonder why we have trouble landing again.

Pg 121

Most of us function in more than one cultural world.  I function in the business world, the blogosphere, the unconventional church world, my local community and the academy.  Each one has its distinct qualities.  The people that like to pick on the academy like to paint it as a world less real than the one they normally function in.  This is a fallacy.  The academic world is a real world just like any other, it is just smaller and perhaps a little more distinct than some others.

We can all be so completely absorbed in to one world it makes us less able to connect with and understand people that live in other worlds.  That is one of the main points in missional thinking. 

Alan does make a very good point.  If we train leaders in an insulated world with its own language and values that is distinct from the world we are training people for we are making things more difficult than they need to be.

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