This begins what, God willing, will be a monthly feature on Grow in Grace. Each month the goal will be to feature the spiritual and professional growth plans of a different circuit. The first circuit to be featured is the Dallas-Fort Worth Circuit from the South Central District.
Below you will find two attachments. One is the letter sent out by the circuit pastor, Pastor John Koelpin from Calvary, Dallas. In the letter Pastor Koelpin announces the circuit’s study plan for the year as well as giving some direction for how the plan will be put to work. The other is the month by month schedule that shows how those plans play out for each of their nine meetings from September 2010 through May 2011.
10:00 a.m. Coffee and Donuts
10:10 a.m. Opening by Circuit Pastor
10:15 a.m. Continuing Ed. Book Report
10:30 a.m. Large Catechism study
11:15 a.m. Exegesis
12:00 p.m. Announcements and Lunch
12:45 p.m. Festival Sermon Study
1:30 p.m. Circuit Business, Casuistry
There are several items worth noting in their plan that seem particularly helpful.
- There is a strong emphasis on being in the Word together in the original languages both for spiritual growth and for sharpening exegetical skills.
- There is also a focus for study of the Word for the purpose of proclamation to others as sermons studies for festivals are presented.
- A systematic way of studying the Confessions is also built into their regular agenda as one brother leads them through a study of the Large Catechism.
- While one pastor is presenting that study of the Large Catechism, the plan appears to keep all pastors in the circuit involved in presenting regularly, not merely listening to others. Since we all learn best what we teach/present to others, that helps us all keep growing.
- With that in mind, the “Continuing Education Books Report” portion of the agenda seems particularly well designed. This will expose the entire circuit to a wide range of books that covers a wide variety of theological disciplines. Having each brother responsible for presenting those reports on a rotating basis helps encourage all the pastors in the circuit to begin or finish a few of those books many of us have in our “to be read at some time in the future” pile. The agreed upon “discipline” of these regular presentations by all pastors in the circuit is a useful example of the encouragement we can give to one another.
Here are a couple suggestions for circuits that would consider adopting/adapting larger or smaller portions of this agenda:
- It might be helpful to allow books on practical theology to have more than one in four months as the focus of the reading. So much of our work in the pastoral ministry revolves around areas such as leading worship, preaching, teaching, evangelism and leadership. Perhaps a plan could call for alternating every other month between the more theoretical (biblical theology, church history, systematics) and the more practical (although all theology is practical!). If more months were devoted to books reports from practical theology, it would then be good to focus in on a particular area of practical theology each month so that the book reports cover all those sub-areas over the course of time.
- Since good objective feedback on our sermons is often difficult to find, perhaps each meeting time one or two pastors who preached on the “featured” festival text could share with the brothers ahead of time a printed or video copy of their sermons for formal or more informal feedback.