New NTSx Class, Brains and Embodiment, offered for 10 Hours Lifelong Learning

Understanding the relationship between our brains and bodies influences our ethics, worship, and our understanding of religious experience.

NTSx is partnering with Blueprint 1543 to offer this online life long learning course that addresses the basics of psychology in service to theology, how our brain works, and how the influence of worship and spiritual formation.

5 hours of viewing, short quizzes, and online reading/discussion totaling 10 hours of CEU credit. The five-week course begins November 7 with ample time to complete course work each week. Student guided discussion occurs online Thursday through Saturday.

Register at NTSx and enroll in Brains and Embodiment.

For more information contact Dr. Dean G. Blevins

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Hospitality in a COVID World through a Child Safety Posture

As congregations open up again during the Coronavirus pandemic, I want to be the first to say that pastors are under extreme pressure. There are historical moments when ministers (whether they admit it or not) really feel pressure to “get it right” even when the answer of what is right, or wrong, remains a mystery. COVID-19 is one of those times. I call these spaces “middle spaces” or liminal times where the past does not provide assurances and the future only raises questions.

For people  used to linear waysof thinking, this time is just crazy-making. For people with cherished plans that seem to go awry (and suffer the condemnation or consternation of watching a good “plan” dissolve), I often recommend a system’s thinking awareness. A system’s thinking approach accepts we are not always in charge since each decision we make is later governed by other decisions… so we have to be learning and adapting as we go. We do not know the future. We may say “God’s got this” but we have no idea exactly what our role is in how God “is” getting it done.

Yet I do think ministry provides analogies that help us, particularly for those pastors who want to serve staff and volunteers during re-entry to the church. The analogy may help us adopt a “posture” to respond to the moment. What I offer is not a plan. However, I do want to offer observations that might help us communicate “why” being well prepared during COVID 19 services proves important.


from Flickr. User: “Sean Hackbarth”. URL:

The analogy comes from my professional experience with another challenge the church wrestle’s with, child safety. For twenty-five years I have worked to either fashion policy around child safety or teach it to students and pastors. It has been an episodic journey, but a journey strong enough to help me see the analogies as churches plan and encourage volunteers to adopt social distancing practices. There are limits as well (I will name them at the end of the blog) but I want to start with the connections.


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We Have a Lot to Learn and Even More to Do Through Imbizo

What Wesley Got Wrong - United Methodist Insight

Some of the questions proposed to everyone before he (she) is admitted among us may be to this effect: —

1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins?

2. Have you peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ?

3. Have you the witness of God’s Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God?

4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart?

5. Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion over you?

6. Do you desire to be told of your faults?

7. Do you desire to be told of all your faults, and that plain and home?

8. Do you desire that every one of us should tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his (her) heart concerning you?

9. Consider! Do you desire we should tell you whatsoever we think, whatsoever we fear, whatsoever we hear, concerning you?

10. Do you desire that, in doing this, we should come as close as possible, that we should cut to the quick, and search your heart to the bottom?

11. Is it your desire and design to be on this, and all other occasions, entirely open, so as to speak everything that is in your heart without exception, without disguise, and without reserve?

John Wesley, “Rules of the Band-Societies, Drawn Up December 25th, 1738,” in The Works of John Wesley, Jackson Edition, Vol. 8 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Edition), 292-93; The Works of John Wesley, Bicentennial Edition, Rupert E. Davies ed., Vol. 9 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1989) 77-78.


Are We REALLY Ready to Hear?

Home - Black Lives Matter

Some efforts really push people to places of despair where hope seems difficult to embrace. The recent events around George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery serve as recent examples of an enduring struggle with racism not only in the USA, but in its varying expressions around the globe. We are in the kind of cauldron of pain where the claims of #blacklivesmatter really need to be heeded, echoed, and championed.

I hear those exhausted by the ongoing struggle. While I hope justice might be done in the ensuing trials, I am deeply aware that previous judicial processes do not serve an adequate predictor. Nevertheless the recent events expose to us once again a need to work at a much deeper level in our society to begin to heal the pain. And I suspect there will be future examples of injustice, insensitivity, and missteps along the way. Saying black lives matter will not be enough, it has never been enough. We also have to listen and ask, “what next?”

Like Wesley’s admonition, we need to hear the challenge, are you really ready to hear of all your faults… plain and home? We have a lot to learn and even more to do.

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Youth on the Brain

Youth On the Brain ConferenceThis Fall 2018 I will be providing a special learning opportunity for “both” local youth ministers/workers who live NTSxaround the KC area “and” for global youth pastors or other concerned ministers intrigued by with how neuroscience might influence our understanding and ministry with youth. Continue reading

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Visio VR

d739edb7-37a7-4bee-88e1-f00304bb0728Recently I was invited to take part in an experiment hosted by Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Vice-President of External Affairs at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Dr. Mahfood is well respected through the Association of Theological Schools for his leadership in online education and other forms of 8c54df08-a7b7-4137-9b38-5ed6c2cccedftechnology and learning. This experiment included my watching several videos using VR Goggles. The videos really merely reflected different experiments with VR from simulations to live experience, often in remarkable settings.

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Challenging Homo Economicus

0103181607b0104180838aGreg Forster, with the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University, opened the second day of the Oikonomia Network Faculty Retreat by greeting new schools that have joined Kern funded programs in a common goal of expanding curriculum development. In addition, he announced a “deep dive” seminar that will be lead by ON staff to empower schools to think beyond the self-evident coursework and find 0104180839edeeper levels of exploring faith, work, and economics in theological education. The Oikonomia Network also explicitly partners with the Faith@Work and the Made to Flourish networks as well as other efforts to encourage a search for 0104180843economic wisdom and human flourishing. Such efforts include Tom Nelson’s new book The Economics of Neighborly Love as well as Brent Water’s new text Just Capitalism and his idea of “koinonia” as flourishing. In addition to small group studies and other academic resources, the Oikonomia Network continues to expand its offerings.

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Posted in Continuing Education, Discipleship, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Practical Theology, Theological Education, Uncategorized, Work | Leave a comment

Let Your Miracles Break Forth Every Day

0103181607The Faculty Retreat for the Oikonomia network opened this evening at the Sheraton Gateway, LAX. The retreat serves as a 0103181902cone day precursor to the Karam Forum that follows. Greg Forster greeted visiting faculty and noted that the focus of the retreat revolves around the question “What is the Economic Responsibility of the Church?” Forster observed that often questions of faith, work, and economics begin and end in the 0103181904fpractical life of the congregation. So, this year’s retreat hopes to raise questions about the church’s life and engagement with our current economic realities.

0103181907bTo orient the faculty to the theme, Forster introduced Dr. L. Gregory Jones from Duke Divinity School and Duke University. Dr. Jones has served both as the Dean of Duke Divinity and Christian Social ImaginationProvost at Baylor University before returning to Duke to teach and serve as senior fellow the Center for Faith and Leadership. Dr. Jones provided a stimulating presentation on “traditioned innovation” which is also the theme of his recent book Christian Social Innovation: Renewing Wesleyan Witness.

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