It's that time of year when college students are wrapping up their studies, finishing finals and getting ready for summer vacation. While plenty of other students were getting ready for backpacking trips or summer internships a group of ministerial students at Concordia University Texas (CTX) embarked on a journey to learn more about missional leadership.
A core portion of their week-long training was spending three days (May 2-4) with LINC Houston learning first-hand what ministry looks like in an urban center like Houston.
Their experience involved service-learning, interaction with Houston's diverse population, in-class and in-depth leadership training and plenty of group processing.
"The experience is intensive," said LINC Missional Trainer, Director Ken Chitwood, "the three days are non-stop and students have a lot to process during the class, in addition to when the class is over."
Studying to one day be commissioned as Directors of Christian Education, these students take a mandatory week-long seminar in missional leadership. Through the process they try to discern what it means to be a missional leader and how to replicate that in their own ministry contexts, both in the present and the future.
"The experience is one students hold onto for a long time," said Dr. Jacob Youmans, director of the DCE program at CTX.
Starting with getting their hands dirty in service to LINC and its ministry, the students learn about how the organiztion got started, and how it currently operates. Learning the ins and outs of LINC the students grow in their appreciation of what it means to run a ministry with the mission of restoring a city to God through Jesus Christ.
Part of learning about LINC, and its city, is taking a "Houston World Tour." Detailed elsewhere, the world tour humanizes the "religious other" and invites participants, like the DCE students, to explore Houston's cultural diversity. This tour included interactions with Vietnamese Buddhists, Indian Hindus, Latino Muslims and Lebanese Orthodox Christians.
"The experience was uncomfortable," shared one student, "but transformative."
In the afternoon, the students go through training with Rev. David Kim of LINC Houston and listen to Ken Chitwood talk about reaching the nations in Houston and engaging in "transfigurational" missions where the light of Christ is able to shine into even the darkest of situations.
Throughout the journey, students process their learning, stop to ask questions and delve deeper into how God is prompting them through His Word and their experiences with LINC Houston.
"This type of hands-on, in-your-face, intensive training takes learning to another level," said Chitwood, "it envelops the student in the practical dimensions of what their learning...and that type of education is simply invaluable for future practice."