Discipleship, Seminary, & High School Students: Joining Together to Equip the Next Generation

This week I’m happy to have my friend, Dr. Brent Sleasman, offer some news about the exciting new developments at Winebrenner Theological Seminary! This is an incredible opportunity for our high school students across the CGGC. Who do you need to connect to WTS this week to take advantage of this great opportunity?

Christ’s Peace,


Discipleship, Seminary, & High School Students: Joining Together to Equip the Next Generation

Dr. Brent Sleasman, WTS President

I was recently invited into a conversation with the Regional Directors of the Churches of God, General Conference, to talk about Winebrenner Seminary’s ability to offer courses for high school students. Since Winebrenner’s current accreditation is in good standing to exclusively offer graduate education I’ve been in conversations with an educational partner accredited for undergraduate education that could allow us to collaborate to meet this need within the CGGC.

One of the joys of being part of a denomination is talking with the vast network of people who call a CGGC church their “home” church. As we discussed this opportunity it became clear that we would need some additional insights into whether there will be interest and how this could work. I was able to connect with several throughout the denomination including pastors and school administrators to determine next steps.

Since this initiative is a true innovation for Winebrenner and the CGGC, I want to share the process we’re using to explore this idea. We’re following a blueprint that emphasizes the words Build, Measure, Learn. Any new strategy or idea can benefit from an intentional design that works through these three steps. I’ll incorporate a few additional thoughts about strategy in general as I develop our approach.

Build: We often tend to over-plan. I’m not suggesting that we act irresponsibility or as poor stewards of the resources God has given us. My point is that we often talk and talk and talk about ideas without ever moving to the point of building the idea itself. The building stage for this project involved clarifying conversations needed to discern what we can and can’t offer. But, at some point, and this should come sooner rather than later, we need to move the concept from pure idea to actually doing something about it. For example:

  • We are moving forward with putting the pieces together to launch one or two courses in January 2021 to help us clarify the scope of the need (sometimes people refer to these as “beta tests” to illustrate that it’s a work in progress).
  • The two courses that we’re likely to offer are Leadership Communication and Interpreting God’s World and Word since they were identified by CGGC regional leaders as the best course options for our first effort.
  • The current price we are working with for these first two course offerings is $200 per student
  • For these initial courses we are going to make use of Zoom and our course delivery system (Populi) for discussions and course interaction.

Measure: As we are building new initiatives, we begin to develop an idea of how to measure success. One easy metric is whether there are actually any students enrolled in the course. Another way to determine success is if we are able to build a corresponding financial model that allows us to be good stewards of our resources. Measurement is a way to reinforce our priorities. Throughout the Missional Leadership Initiative (MLI) Reggie McNeal frequently talked about ”changing the scorecard” as a way to re-evaluate our priorities in the local church. Here are a few items that will assist in measuring if this course is a success:

  • Ideally, we will have at least 18 students enrolled in a single course
  • At least two CGGC regions will have students represented in the course(s)
  • Upon successfully completing the course, students will provide positive feedback about their experiences

Learn: Part of the reason we spend so much time planning is that we want our initial efforts to be perfect. It is better to launch an imperfect project at the right time than to keep waiting for the perfect project. We need to be okay with making mistakes. We need to learn how to accept criticism and learn from our mistakes. We need equal doses of honesty and grace. Here are some areas in which we could learn new ways of being more effective:

  • Our current plan is for Winebrenner to handle registration, hiring the instructor, etc. However, we may find that the CGGC Regions could benefit from playing a more active role in the process.
  • Our current plan is for the CGGC Findlay office and individual Regions to promote and share the information about the course. Again, we may learn that Winebrenner needs to take a more active role in promotion.

There are still many details to work out. However, a great next step is for you to let me or Lance know if you are interested in more information. It’s almost the end of October and January will be here soon. I’ll be glad to talk more with you, your student, your church, or pastor(s), if you have questions. My request is that you don’t consider yourself a consumer who waits for someone to contact you with more information. You have a stake in the future of the CGGC! Be proactive and encourage those who may be interested in make contact with me or Lance.

Winebrenner Theological Seminary is excited to partner with the Churches of God, General Conference as we fulfill our mission to equip leaders for service in God’s kingdom!

For more information you can contact me at brent.sleasman@winebrenner.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

CGGC eNews—Vol. 14, No. 43

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