Thriving in the whirlwind: Connected Learning as an approach to lifelong learning for ministry
Vicki Lynn Hollon, A. Christopher Hammon, Drew University, United States
Drew University . Awarded
This project thesis addresses the lifelong learning challenges encountered by congregational leaders seeking to stay relevant in the midst of cultural transitions and the various stages of their ministry. It does so by exploring Connected Learning opportunities emerging from the convergence of new educational methods and online technologies. It further explores the theological and biblical basis for lifelong learning as critical to the practice of ministry.
Failure to successfully negotiate these learning challenges puts congregational leaders and the congregations they lead at risk of being an irrelevant voice for the gospel in 21st century culture. Several studies recognized by the Alban Institute have revealed a growing number of clergy that do not feel “adequately prepared to help their parishioners…” Our own studies reflect six key learning challenges faced by mid-career congregational leaders. In response to these challenges, the Alban Institute recognized the “need to develop new, healthy, and safe environments for clergy to learn and connect” and to develop “new pathways and processes of learning.” The merger of new technologies and new adult education methodologies has both accelerated the paradigm shift in how we work and learn and created new opportunities to address challenges facing continuing education providers.
Working within the context of the Wayne E. Oates Institute, a learning community committed to integrative care, we listened to the voices of concern and responded by creating new approaches to continuing education for ministry. We evaluated these Connected Learning approaches for their effectiveness as a learning environment according to criteria we established and found all to be effective, especially when matched to specific learning needs and their contexts.
On the basis of this research we demonstrated that the use of Connected Learning approaches can enable congregational leaders to sustain a lifelong commitment to share the relevance of the gospel. We further commented on a number of the implications that these new approaches have for the field of continuing education for ministry.
Hollon, V.L. Thriving in the whirlwind: Connected Learning as an approach to lifelong learning for ministry. Ph.D. thesis, Drew University.
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