Josh Paxton teaching recently in an Intercultural Studies classroom.
Where is the School?
With Calvary’s Conference on Global Engagement just around the corner, Josh Paxton, Director of the Burnham Center for Global Engagement, is gearing up for the conference’s Think Tank. Scheduled for Friday the 31st, the Think Tank addresses the question of how the church, mission agency, and school work together in training missionaries for the field. Paxton said, “The conversation has generally centered around the mission agency and the church. And… as I’ve been in these conversations, the constant refrain in the back of my mind has been, where is the school?” He noted that, as Christian schools have closed over the past few years, mission agencies have turned their recruiting focus toward churches. While recognizing that “the church is God’s primary vehicle in the world today, and the local church bears responsibility for local missions,” Paxton said, “I think the school still very much has a role to play.”
Concurrent to the conversation is Calvary’s Synergy program that has already forged a stronger connection between the school and the mission agency. As the program grows and develops, leaders and students are finding ways to involve the church more in discipling the individuals preparing for the mission field. Paxton said an integral part of the Synergy program is “making sure that [the student’s] local church is behind them, and that they’re being mentored in the process.”
The Think Tank brings together local pastors, Calvary leadership, missions agency representatives, and students around the idea of, “how do we do this better together?” The format of the Think Tanks will be “Ted Talk style,” featuring 30-minute presentations followed by discussion times. Paxton is excited to bring students into these conversations, “because it strikes me it does no good for pastors and teachers and missions agency leaders to sit around and talk about students without students actually being there to give their input.”
Examining how the church, agency, and school work together to disciple and train leaders, Paxton said, “I think we need to take a real hard look at what are the roles of each: what’s the church good at? What’s the school good at? What’s the agency good at? What are our niches and how do we work better together?”