Education for Ministry (EfM) is an adult education program through the University of the South. EfM is a four year program of bible study and group activities.
When talking about EfM most people focus on the bible study because it is something people can relate to. In reality, the bible study is the most independent part of EfM. You get out of it, what you put in; as much or as little. Most groups have people in all four years of study. The average session spends only about 15-20 minutes on each year’s bible studies per week. It really isn’t supposed to be more than half of the meeting time per week. My group last year had students in only two years (year 2 New Testament and year 3 Church History). We hope to have more people next year, which will surely mean several year 1s and maybe some returning students in other years.
At least half of the meeting is spent in group activities, either Theological Reflection (TR) or five common lessons. Theological reflection is the mainstay of EfM, but its very hard to explain. Its a process that my group seems to have down pretty good and we were able to take turns leading TR this year. This year though I think the common lessons were the best. Common lessons always explore and build your personal theology and ministry. Each year always starts with a spiritual autobiography as the first common lesson. This year the fourth common lesson was to explore the process of developing a personal creed. It was an interesting process. Each person has their own theological focus and that was reflected in their contributions. After the common lesson one of us strung together our thoughts into a rough draft of a creed and we fine tuned it over about six weeks. It was a good exercise in consensus building. So here below is what we came up with and I think we are all happy with it.
We believe in one God
in three persons, co-existent and co-eternal:
God the Almighty and Ancient of Days
the merciful Father,
Creator of the Cosmos,
the Heavens and the Earth,
all that is, seen and unseen;
Jesus, his Son, our Redeemer
Healer of Humanity,
the Standard and the Measurer,
the Way, the Truth, and the Light;
And the Holy Spirit, the love of God,
His ever-present action on Earth,
Binder of the Communion of Saints in
the Body of Christ,
Uniter of the holy universal church.
We believe that when we sin
we willfully turn away from God and each other,
severing the bonds of communion,
changing us and wounding the Body of Christ.
We hold on to the forgiveness of sins,
discernment of God’s continuing presence,
hope in our everlasting relationship,
the promise of salvation and the
assurance of grace to do His will in the world.
We are children of the eternal kingdom,
A kingdom which was at the beginning,
And will be at the end of all things.
I hope you will consider giving EfM a try. If you are a already participating in EfM drop a comment by here and let us all know what you think of the program.