Posts Tagged ‘ teaching ’

summer class – partnering with Seattle churches

Every summer trimester at MHGS I get to guide a group of emerging leaders through a selected readings course . . . for us “selected readings” means that faculty members are given some space to develop a course around an area of passion. In preparation for this summer’s learning journey, I’ve been working on this […]

courses for the fall

I’m knee deep in the process of crafting my courses that I’ll be guiding students through at MHGS this fall. They are a thrilling and important list of courses and I’m looking for suggestions that you might have for engagements, films, music, poetry, readings, even themes that I should consider to make that courses as solid, transformational and missional as possible.

The two courses I would most covet your input on are: Introduction to the Hermeneutical Task: the Art of Reading Beyond the Page & Postmodernity.I’ll post the course descriptions:

Feel free to post here or email thoughts to me.

peace, dwight

jan 18th, 2007, wartburg seminary

I will be interacting with a group of seminary students from Wartburg Seminary, around some of my research regarding the “Scale-Free Kingdom.” This j-term course is hosted and facilitated by Karen Ward and COTA.

Peace, dwight

family/expression gathering

Our “family gatherings” are life of our community. On the second and third Sundays of each month we gather for to encounter the mystery and story of God. We spend time in worship and conversation regarding how our lives can find meaning and hope in connection with God and other.

Our evenings vary in content however the focus is God and we engage in discussion and activities that help us to see God’s activity in the world and in our own lives. Each person comes prepared to share themselves; bringing a song, a story, a God-moment, etc. Sundays from 4:00-6:00 PM.

The family gathering is @ Dwight & Lynette’shome in Bellevue.

seeking emerging educational systems

I was privileged to spend a few hours imagining educational programs with David Male over coffee this morning. David was the founder and pastor of the NetChurch in Huddersfield, UK until accepting the call to a new position in Cambridge serving as a tutor in Pioneer Mission Training (emerging church-ish), and will also serve Westcott House and Ridley Hall. He is in the process of re-imagining what clergy training will look like for those leaders/pastors seeking to serve pioneer/emerging/networked/missional churches in the UK.

It’s so interesting to watch formal educational systems, historic Christian denominations, and even other religious traditions in the ongoing process of assessing and adjusting the equipping of young leaders. Together with Stan Grenz, Dan Allender, Roy Barsness, Brian McLaren, Carl Raschke and the rest of Mars Hill Graduate School’s faculty I got to participate in crafting our entire MDiv curriculum to prepare our graduates to lead in these rapidly changing times; so to imagine together with David about what such an educational program might look like in the UK was just not only generative and fun, but also stimulated my thoughts around why and how I teach what I teach, in the the way I teach it.  

It feels like we stand at a unique convergence point in Christian history; the flattening of the world through rapid networking, combined with radical epistemological and hermeneutical shifts, combined with the death of Christendom (or at least a shift to a church centered in the global south) leaves the church and its educational institutions wondering who are we now? What’s important now? What should we let go of? How do we steward what we have? How do we prepare those coming behind us? Etc.

It was great to be with you today David.

Peace, dwight


There are some very exciting developments regarding women MDiv’ers at Mars Hill Graduate School. As many have heard and read, the school recently redeveloped its entire MDiv program and is arguably one of the most innovative, integrative, culturally engaged, relational and hermeneutically sophisticated programs in the country (maybe the world), and of course there is always room for improvement.

One of the very practical areas for growth being championed involves advocacy of women pursuing MDiv education. Some of our students have formed a task force surrounding this initiative and are passionately and creatively exploring ways MHGS can encourage, fund, and find post-graduation placement for female clergy.

Within much of the Protestant Mainline church world women clergy are ordained – although a “glass ceiling” still seems to exist – while in much of the Evangelical, Roman and Eastern church traditions there is little or no place for women in formal leadership.

I find it thrilling to see so many male and female students yearning for a way to live into the fullness of the imago Dei together . . . yearning for ways to celebrate and honor the unique voice of the “other.”

It will be interesting to see how these kinds of initiatives will be received by the evangelical church world. I believe that Mars Hill Graduate School uniquely serves as a something of a bridge seminary – we are both and neither “conservative” and “liberal” – we are both and neither “evangelical” and “ecumenical.” And it often feels that because the school encourages conversation, those fearful that dialogue will “dilute” assign us a label for the sake of dismissal.

Just a reminder that this is a personal site so the thoughts and opinions represent where I’m at in my journey at the time of writing – no formal MHGS positions posted here.

peace, dwight

theology of spiritual formation

I’ve been having a great time finishing my syllabus for a course exploring the Theology of Spiritual Formation which I will be guiding this summer. This is not a course in the practice or practices of formation but is a theology. What do we believe about the formation? Can spirituality be taught? If so how? “Formation” suggests a process . . . when/how does this process begin? Can anything stop the process? What’s the goal or hope of spiritual formation? etc.

Here is a selected list of some of the contemporary texts I’ve been revisiting . . . what text or texts would you recommend for a theology of spiritual formation:


A Monk of the Eastern Church. Orthodox Spirituality, Second Edition. London, UK: William Clowes & Sons Limited, 1978.

Alexander, Donald L. Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Allen, Diogenes. Spiritual Theology: The Theology of Yesterday for Spiritual Help Today. Cowley Publications, 1997.

Astley, Jeff et al. Theological Perspectives on Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans 1996.

________. Christian Perspective on Faith Development. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.

Barth, Karl. “The Christian Life” in Church Dogmatics IV/4. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1981.

Berry, Wendall. What are People For? San Francisco: CA: North Point Press, 1990.

Blazer, Doria. Faith Development in Early Childhood. Kansas: Sheed & Ward, 1989.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Life Together. San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers. 1954.

Chan, Simon. Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.

Charry, Ellen T. By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Coles, Robert. The Spiritual Life of Children. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin

Conde-Frazier, Elizabeth, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett. A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Dupre, Louis. The Deeper Life: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism. New York, NY: Crossroad, 1981.

Fischer, Kathleen. Women at the Well. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1988.

Foley, Kathleen, and Peggy O’Leary, editors. Focus on Theology: An Adult Faith-Formation Discussion Program. Liturgical Press, 1999.

Foster, Richard J. Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001.

________. Celebration of Discipline. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1978.

Halverson, Richard C. Christian Maturity. Los Angeles, CA: Cowman Publications, 1956.

Hollyday, Joyce. Then Shall Your Light Rise: Spiritual Formation and Social Witness. Upper Room Books, 1997.

Johnson, Ben Campbell, and Andrew Dreitcer. Beyond the Ordinary: Spirituality for Church Leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2001.

Johnson, Susanne. Christian Spiritual Formation in the Classroom. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1989.

Lawrenz. Mel. The Dynamics of Spiritual Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

Lefevre, Perry D., editor. Prayers of Kierkegaard. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Loder, James E. Transformational Moments: Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1992.

Loder, James E., and W. Jim Neidhardt. The Knight’s Move: The Relational Logic of the Spirit in Theology and Science. Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1992.

Lovelace, Richard J. Dynamics of Spiritual Life. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979.

Lugenbell, Barbara Derrick. Your Spiritual Growth. Wilson: Morehouse Barlow, 1985.

Maloney, H. Newton. Wholeness and Holiness. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983

Moberg, David O. Wholistic Christianity. Elgin: Brethren Press, 1985.

Mulholland, M. Robert Jr. Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarisity Press, 1993.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. New York: Doubleday, 1975. ISBN: 0-385-23682-4

Pagitt, Doug. Reimagining Spiritual Formation: A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

Palmer, Parker J. To Know as We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1983.

Patterson, Richard. Growing Toward Spiritual Maturity. Wheaton, IL: ETTA, 1988.

Peck, M. Scott. The Road Less Traveled. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1978.

Peterson, Eugene H. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.

________. Eat this Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006.

Powell, Samuel M. Embodied Holiness: Toward a Corporate Theology of Spiritual Growth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Rice, Howard The Pastor as Spiritual Guide. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1998.

Richards, Larry A Practical Theology of Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987.

Roberts, Robert C. Spirituality and Human Emotion. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1982.

Rolheiser, Ronald. The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1999.

Sinetar, Marsha. Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Self-Discovery. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1986.

Steele, Les L. On the Way: A Practical Theology of Christian Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990.

Von Balthasar, Hans Urs. Prayer. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1963.

Webster, Douglas D. Soulcraft: How God Shapes Us Through Relationships. Downers Grove, IL: InterVaristy Press, 1999.

Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Discovering our Hidden Life in God. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

________. Spirit of the Disciplines. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

Williams, Rowan. Christian Spirituality. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1979.

Peace, dwight

relational teaching?

The other day I was asked for a working definition of “interpersonal relations” within an educational environment. I hummed and hawed and stumbled a little longer than was necessary to reinforce my buffoon-tendencies. Of the many possible responses which have come to mind since that moment the one I keep going back is the following.

The Mandolin Maker & His Nephew

by dwight friesen


Once upon a time, there was a mandolin maker named Gepetto, (his second cousin twice removed was also named Gepetto and he made the most enchanting puppets; but that’s a different story). He was known far and wide for making some of the most beautiful mandolins. It was said that you could line up twenty mandolins play the same tune and even the untrained ear could appreciate the unparalleled splendor and resonance of Gepetto’s instrument.


One day Gepetto’s nephew – an aspiring mandolin maker himself – came to his uncle wanting to learn his secret. “Please, tell me how you make your mandolins sound so sweet?” he began.


Gepetto took his nephew by the hand and led him to his supply of lumber, putting his index finger to his lips he hushed his nephew, and picked up a piece of wood. He felt it, caressed it, and rapped with his knuckle all the while listening to it. “This piece is perfect for a tuning peg,” he said after a few moments and lovingly laid the wood in the hands of his nephew. “Find another piece that sounds like this and I will tell my secret.


And so the nephew picked up a piece wood and felt it, caressed it and rapped it with his knuckled all the while listening to it and declared he had found one. Gepetto took the wood and listened to it himself, and smiled. “You have a found a very useful piece, but it is not a tuning peg, this piece will serve us by keeping us warm.” Gepetto threw the wood in the fire and picked up his chisel and resumed his work. “My offer stands,” he said as a ringlet of maple fell from his chisel.


By the end of the day the nephew’s hands were slivered, and his knuckles were raw, and he still had not found a suitable piece for a tuning peg. Gepetto, seeing the growing frustration, joined his nephew and picked up another piece of wood, and began the process. This time the nephew thought he saw something in his uncle’s connection with the wood that he hadn’t seen earlier – he studied his uncle’s face and was mesmerized by the way his hands glided over the wood. “I want to be that kind of person” he thought.


In that moment, something of his uncle passed over to the young man.


Years passed. Day in and day out the young nephew worked at Gepetto’s side until he was not so young and Gepetto was an old man. The fame of their magnificence mandolins had only grown. One afternoon an aspiring mandolin maker came to the nephew asking him how he and Gepetto did it. The now much older nephew was reminded of his first day in the woodshop with his uncle. The secret was his now, but not to be told. He was the secret. And there was only one way to pass it on. He took the boy over to the wood pile, and picked up a piece, he felt it, caressed it, and rapped it with his knuckle all the while listening. “This piece is perfect for a scroll,” he said after a few moments and lovingly laid the wood in the hands of the would-be mandolin maker. “Find another piece that sounds like this and I will tell my secret . . .”


peace, dwight

breaking thru the Academy’s third wall

This morning I had the privilege of interacting with the Mars Hill Graduate School student leadership.  I’ve got to say that they are an impressive group.  In all of my schooling I have never seen a student led group so intentionally and pro-actively shape the ethos of a school.  These people believe in the uniqueness of this place are taking the idea of “dreaming out loud” about what a seminary could be very seriously; and their voices are being heard.  This is a grad school that encourages students to break through the third wall of the Academy.

Thanks for inviting me this morning.

peace, dwight

thanks (a follow-up)

Of all the teachers, both named and unnamed, who have influenced me, one stands out as having shaped my heart and teaching more than any other.  A third grade teacher, committed to experiential authentic learning; Lynette Friesen has been coaching me toward crafting transformational moments, teaching me to ask questions, challenging me to keep learning, passing on good books, and freeing me from lecturing for more than 14 years.

There is no person who is shaping my teaching more than Lynette.  When we were first married I held firm that it was through the “foolishness of preaching” that God’s Kingdom was advanced – and by preaching I meant “three points and a poem” – that’s all changed now.  I can see more clearly the power of crafting experiences or of creating environments which encourage inquiry based engagement.  She has helped me to be willing to try new approaches of communication and trust a learning community, read its needs and rely on God’s Spirit to guide people to Godself.  She is a coach, a sounding board, a cheerleader, a constructive critic, an encourager, and a lover of my soul.

Lynette, thanks for sharing your passion for teaching with me; and all the other stuff too.

Love, dwight