I began my first doctor of ministry class today, arriving a bit early (15 min) at Reformed Theological Seminary on Oveido. I found my way to the classroom, chose a seat, and placed my pre-made "name plate" in front of my notepad. The class consists of only about 13 guys, so it has a small group feel with lots of interaction. Joel Hunter, Pastor of Northland is the instructor for the first 2.5 days. Everyone was casually dressed (jeans, khakis, or shorts). Joel sported a button down shirt and tie. The light blue/grey suited him well (though If I was as grey as him I would have gone with darker colors). :) I discovered that he reads the Economist, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy (but not Sports Illustrated!!) and in fiction he likes Jane Austen. Jane Austen?! Can I learn from this man? I pray for special grace and teachability.
We went around the room and introduced ourselves and then launched into the discussion. And discussion it was. the lectures were informal and when questions were raised we explored those issues and went in different directions. So the class is not paricularly "linear", but that's okay because we did so much linear reading in preparation.
I am not ready to "drink the kool-aid" and buy into Northland's reliance on technology and vision to plant 1 million churches worldwide via connected internet house churches (www.northlandchurch.net). Perhaps it has some validity in extending the gospel and forming churches (like Christian radio overseas), but not as a terminal ministry. To be fair, that is not what Northland envisions either. And again, I can see it in a village context, isolated from good teaching, but not in suburbia with local churches easily accessible.
But Northland's passion for resourcing ministry "out there" and truly being "us for them" in incarnational community ministry is solid, and is a lifestyle we need to cultivate in our community. They are really committed to empowering lay ministry and so must I be as well.
So, after I finish my coffee I'll grab a bite to eat and head over to Northland's 7 PM Monday evening service to check it out on site...