Back in the Classroom

Posted on January 17, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

No, I am not going back to school though I do have an insatiable thirst for learning and acquiring knowledge. I am amazed at those my age seeking to earn additional degrees later in life. I’m quite confident I could handle it, but I prefer more freedom and flexibility in my reading and learning experiences than the focused discipline required in school.

I have jumped into teaching MIN 305 in the Mississippi College spring semester, a course in the Christian Studies program on Missions and Evangelism. Interestingly, the classroom in Provine Hall is the one where I sat for Bible and Philosophy classes fifty years ago! Pictures of my professors, most of whom are now deceased, line the wall. That instills a sense of inadequacy in presuming to measure up to their level of dignity and the impartation of knowledge.

Fortunately, a lot has changed since I sat in a student desk and feigned interest in a monotone lecture. This is a different generation, the educational process is more informal, and it is stimulating to dialogue with a room full of idealistic, visionary students. Many of them had just attended the passion event with John Piper, Francis Chan and Louie Giglio and came back to campus challenged to make a difference in a lost world. Some have had cross-cultural summer missions experience and can articulate contemporary missiological issues.

I have found it a challenge to try to pull together a lifetime of experiences into a coherent syllabus that will be relevant to this generation of students. Methods of learning have changed. They do their reading online and know how to access extensive information instantaneously on the internet. After assigning book reports and suggesting they could choose their selection and notify me by email, I discovered an immediate response in my inbox, most of which had been sent by iPhones before the class was even dismissed!

It is fulfilling to anticipate 14 weeks of sharing all I know and have experienced about missions and evangelism after usually being confined to one 30-minute sermon at a mission conference. However, last week was the exception in participating in the “Awaken2Missions” conference sponsored by Conduit in Spring Hill, TN. I am intrigued at the phenomena of new emerging contemporary churches such as Conduit.

Over the years I have enjoyed relating to “Global Mission Baptist Church” in Maryland. It used to be First Korean Baptist Church in Silver Springs but changed its name to reflect its priority commitment to the Great Commission. I have since reminded others that every church ought to be a global mission church, if not in name at least in action. Conduit was formed a few years ago with it name implying the local church is to be a conduit for missions! You could not be more authentic New Testament than that.

It was a blessing to join with Jordan Sekulow, Darren Tyler and David Whetstone to challenge an exciting younger generation from five states to missions involvement. The bonus of the weekend was getting to be with our three Nashville grandchildren and their parents. It is amazing to note their growing maturity and spiritual devotion in our occasional times together. Zachary is now 16, Joseph soon-to-be 13, and Anna Grace is 9. Their dogs Maisha and Siah are ubiquitous parts of the family.

2 Comments on “Back in the Classroom”

  1. Betty Jo Hudson

    Is this the same class you will be teaching on Tues. evenings at Wm. Carey? Just wondering.

  2. Jerry Rankin

    Betty Jo, more or less–this one is more comprehensive on “Evangelism and Missions” while WCU is “Principles of Missions” so content and assignments vary, but a lot of overlap. The class is scheduled to be 6:00-9:00 on Tuesday evenings, beginning Feb. 21. WCU is also going to promote a seminar for pastors, church staff and mission leaders throughout South Miss. on Wednesday mornings, 10:00-11:30 which I will be leading on “Impact Your World–Churches fulfilling the Great Commission; it will run for eight weeks in March and April. Are you interested?

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