Rev. Christa Klosterman | NTS Alumni Council Member-At-Large
Ten years after completing my Master of Divinity degree, I find myself exceedingly grateful for the three years I spent at NTS. I was challenged to think deeply and broadly about God’s mission in the world. I learned how to listen to and love people. My ability to listen to God’s still small voice grew. I started to journey with friends and professors who continue to play a large role in my formation as a pastor. And recently, in a conversation with a current NTS student, I found myself wanting to go back.
It was in a district minister’s licensing interview, done by conference call with a student in Africa who was just weeks from completing NTS’s new 365M program. The student was finishing a year of seminary credit immersed in a global field assignment. He was a sharp student, as many of our district licensed ministers are. But what made him stand out was the holistic formation he had received in the 365M program. He spoke of opportunities to preach in a number of locations, teaching opportunities in a variety of topics, visits with people and churches in remote areas, and what he had learned about balancing all of life on the mission field. He had wrestled well with the cross cultural experience and seemed to understand how the mission of God could translate from the suburbs of the US to the remote places of Africa. He was learning by doing and there was no doubt in my mind that the formation of that year had shaped him deeply and would prepare him to be a gift to the church, wherever he might end up.
The other district interviewer said it first, but I was thinking the same thing, “I wish I could go back to Seminary in order to have an experience like that!”
Certainly the opportunity to go to Africa for a year would be the adventure of a lifetime, but to wrestle with and live into the mission of God in the midst of a global setting and in conversation with a mentor is a fantastic way to train ministers of the Gospel for the future that is on its way to us.
I am thankful (and a bit jealous) that NTS is continually seeking new and faithful ways of forming ministers of the Gospel after my training has ended. My years of experience in ministry have convinced me that in this ever-changing world, the Church needs women and men who clearly understand the mission of God and have practiced living it out in whatever culture they find themselves in. Such holistic formation and intentional ministry training is not just a gift to the students who receive it, but to the whole Church who will catch their passion and learn their wisdom.