Why I Wrote Transforming Theological Education

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Why I Wrote 'Transforming Theological Education'
By Perry Shaw 28 November 2019
Perry Shaw, author of Transforming Theological Education: A Practical Handbook for Integrative Learning explains the story of how one of Langham Publishing’s top selling titles came to be a book – a book that answered his own vocational crisis and which has had a growing impact in theological colleges around the globe.

A Global Crisis in Theological Education

There is an increasing recognition that we are facing a global crisis in theological education. We see students entering college passionate for ministry and leaving passionate for academia, with little idea how to empower the church and often with no genuine desire to do so. Churches complain of graduates who have lots of answers – but to the wrong questions. Communities are left untouched by the churches served by the product of our education.

My own disillusionment with the world of theological education hit me in 2006, when my world fell apart and I had a complete emotional breakdown. While a number of factors contributed to this personal crisis, significant was the realization of the impotence of the work of training leaders to which I had devoted much of my life’s energies. 

I seriously considered giving up completely on institutional theological education, seeing theological schools as counterproductive for preparing effective leadership for the church.

I was fortunate. By God’s grace and with help from friends and the medical profession, my health recovered in less than a year. But many questions remained. I seriously considered giving up completely on institutional theological education, seeing theological schools as counterproductive for preparing effective leadership for the church. However, it soon became evident that, for better or for worse, the churches still looked to theological colleges for their leaders, and consequently the solution lay not with rejection but with seeking change from within.

Transforming Theological Education

It Is a Journey

In the years that followed two major changes occurred. The first was the opportunity to be a part of a major curricular reconceptualization that took place at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (Lebanon). The basis of this work was a shift to a genuinely missional foundation for theological education which had been talked about extensively in the literature but not brought into the practice of mainstream theological education. The second was a growing number of invitations to lead faculty-training workshops, initially in South Asia but in the years since, across the world. It has become clear that a practical approach to an integrated and missional training is desired and welcomed.

The goal of this book is to provide a practical handbook for how an integrated and missional approach might be implemented in practice. It is a journey … but my hope is that this book can provide practical steps on that journey.

Through the years numerous people told me that I needed to put my material into print. Work with the London School of Theology’s online masters’ program in theological education catalyzed the writing. Transforming Theological Education is the product. Others have written philosophically about the necessity of an integrated and missional approach to theological education. The goal of this book is to provide a practical handbook for how an integrated and missional approach might be implemented in practice. It is a journey … but my hope is that this book can provide practical steps on that journey.

By Perry Shaw

Transforming Theological Education – Perry Shaw

Since publication a growing number of schools have used Transforming Theological Education as a catalyst for rethinking their curriculum, some with dramatic changes. China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong has moved forward with a highly innovative approach to training leaders for a wide variety of contexts. The Theological College of Zimbabwe has brought a new paradigm in their education around the theme of transforming worldviews. Although the book was written with Majority World schools in mind, many schools in Western countries such as Oak Hill College in the UK have also gained much value.

If you are serious about seeing your college being both transformed and transformative then Transforming Theological Education is the resource for you.

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