Partnership Spotlight: VantagePoint3
January 28, 2019
When people look around the landscape of theological education in North America they tend to consider the various seminaries, divinity schools, or Bible colleges that exist. Unfortunately, that means the wonderful work being done outside of schools is often overlooked. People don’t tend to think of the programs that exist outside of formal schools as “theological education.”
A number of years ago, Sioux Falls Seminary began an important effort to help reshape that perception. Rather than overlooking those learning and development pathways that exist outside of a school, we began to create new ways for these opportunities for theological education to be a driving force behind the way students engage in theological education. One such pathway is designed, developed, and offered through VantagePoint3.
The VantagePoint3 pathway is “an uncommon, faith-deepening, life-aligning pathway of processes” that help churches, ministry organizations, and now seminaries, help women and men who are longing for something more. To put it another way, the VP3 pathway helps people “discover more deeply who God is, who they are, and what God desires to do through them.” If you are reading this post and have paid attention to the foundational principles of the Kairos Project, the focus of the VP3 pathway may sound familiar.
If you talk with someone who has been through the VantagePoint3 pathway or to someone who works with VP3, you will experience a different type of conversation filled with a different type of questions. Plainly speaking, the VP3 pathway is a powerful and transformational discipleship journey.
Why then, would a seminary seek to replicate that kind of a process?
Unfortunately, that is what often happens.
In our misguided attempts to control the process of theological education, schools see programs like VantagePoint3, the Transforming Community from the Transforming Center, Emerging Leaders Incubator at Heartland Community Church, or Blue Ocean from the North American Baptist Conference and think, “People seem to love those things, let’s build our own version of it by hiring some experts and designing an awesome program.” In doing so, the chasm between the wider church and the “academy” grows larger.
Rather than widening the gap or building a bridge across the chasm, Sioux Falls Seminary is finding ways to partner with organizations like VantagePoint3 in ways that simply remove the chasm. In short, we enter the partnership as equals, not as an organization with the power to tell another what do to. We believe the work they do is every bit as valuable and credible (and in many ways more valuable) than anything we could do alone as a seminary.
Partnerships with programs and ministry organizations like VantagePoint3 are a vital aspect of what it means to be Sioux Falls Seminary. In doing so, theological education will become something the church, the body of Christ, can access in new and profound ways. As we have said, if theological education is simply a journey of discipleship that invites participants to think more deeply about their faith, vocation, and relationships, then we must be open-handed in our work. By letting go of power and control, we give back to the church what has always been hers – that is the development of disciples “discovering more deeply who God is, who they are, and what God desires to do through them.”