As part of the MDiv program at Southeastern Seminary, students must take a class called “Supervised Field Ministry”. This is the catalog description of the course:
A course focused on important principles of Spiritual Formation and Christian Leadership with an appropriate field experience under the supervision of a competent supervisor. Cognitive and affective learning experiences are designed to foster the student’s formation in ministry.
Apparently, a friend of mine – Geth – and the office that oversees this course decided that I am a “competent supervisor”.
All joking aside, I’m very excited about working with Geth on this course. Why? Because he is interested in serving people in prison. He already works as a part-time instructor, teaching religion courses through a local community college in a local prison. He is also considering becoming a prison chaplain.
Why am I excited about the working with Geth to learn about serving people in prison? Well, as most of you know, I am very interested in the community aspect of life in Christ. How does this work with people in prison – both among prisoners and between those in prison and those outside of prison? We will be discussing these questions, as well as dealing with issues concerning teaching and spiritual formation.
Geth will be reading a few books which we will discuss weekly. We’re also going to discuss several passages of Scripture, including an extremely important passage from Matthew, where Jesus says that the “righteous” are those who visited him in prison. (There are very interesting verbs used in this passage for the responsibility of the righteous toward prisoners. I’ll examine those verbs in a couple of days.)
We’re also considering working on a project together examining some issues of Christian community in the context of prisons – perhaps a project to be presented at a meeting of one of the major religious academic organizations. But, I’ll share more about that as it develops.
My premise in this course is that life in Christ is life in community with other believers. While our context may contribute to what this life looks like or what this life entails, our context should not change the basic premise. Somehow, our context – even prison – should not negate the importance nor viability of community in Christ.
One important question that we’ll consider is the following: “What is Geth’s role in a prison community of Christians?” It seems that Geth cannot be fully part of a prison community, even though he will spend alot of time with the prisoners. In many ways, he will remain an outsider. Is there a biblical parallel to his role in a prison community?
Well, there may be no one else interested in this topic, but that’s okay. If you took the time to read this entire article, thank you. If you have suggestions, opinions, questions, etc. about this topic and are willing to share them in the comments section, even better!