Monday, December 07, 2009

Challenging the Status Quo in Theological Education in Asia


Asia is in a constant flux of rapid socio-economic changes. The church is growing rapidly and there is a need for competent, confident and spiritually matured pastors and leaders. The curriculum for theological education in Asian seminaries is often based on the traditional classic fourfold content of biblical studies, systematic theology, church history, and practical theology. There is a tendency for these institutions to focus strongly on content in their curriculums. Their approach to teaching is usually instructional schooling which is the proven pedagogy for content transmission. Unfortunately instructional schooling has been proven not effective in producing graduates capable of complex decision making, creative thinking, reflective in actions, and life long learning. These are essential qualities for spiritual leadership in the information age. Problem based learning (PBL) with its track record in medical education offers the pedagogy to develop these qualities. Seminaries in Asia should seriously consider a radical paradigm shift in curriculum redesign following the Problem based Learning (PBL) pedagogy.

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This is an article I wrote about a challenge to theological education in Asia. I have earlier blogged about some thoughts I have while researching for this article.

Are learning ancient languages useful for pastors?
Are our pastors adequately prepared for ministry?
Do theological education forms or deforms spiritual formation?

Here are some interesting comments on theological education made on blogs recently by an Asian student and a seminary lecturer.

Sze Zeng
Local theological study, church and the end of the first semester
Kar Yong
What my students think of us

Please read my article and let me know what you think.




Blogger 逍遥子Odysseus said...

Actually many senior pastors have realized the irrelevance of conventional seminary education and its divergence from the church context, and in response,they start own ministry school/school of theology,to train own workers.

however, I dont know to what extent Dr Tang consenting such practice?

for example Pastor Kong Hee of city harvest church in Singapore runs its own school of theology...

3:55 PM  
Blogger Tony Siew said...

Dear Alex, appreciate very much your comments on theological education. Look forward to your input. At TTC, we are engaging in some debates on this and we hope to have a new focus and new curriculum by 2011. Do pray for us.

BTW, Von Rad, City Harvest sends their pastors and cell leaders to TTC for their theological education.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Von Rad,

Church based bible seminaries has its advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is that it is in the church itself and the students are not removed to an artifical environment as in a Bible seminary.

One disadvantage is that students will be trained in the line of theology and tradition of that particular church only.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Tony,

I am glad that TTC is involved in a curriculum review and will pray that it will come up with a curriculum appropriate to the times.

11:11 AM  
Blogger 逍遥子Odysseus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:48 PM  
Blogger 逍遥子Odysseus said...


thanks! I too heard of that lately,but I am eager to know what programs city harvest people embarking on?and how many of them joining TTC as part time or full time students?

Of course, I would be very happy if they indeed study full heartedly in TTC. well done!

10:49 PM  
Blogger Tony Siew said...

Hi Von Rad, there are quite a number of students from City Harvest. I think in the past 2 years 6 or 7 that I know of. Some hold important positions in the church. Most are doing a MDiv. I got to know them in my NT and Greek class. They are also excellent students, if I may add.

9:07 PM  
Blogger 逍遥子Odysseus said...

hi Tony ,

thanks for input..

I am indeed thrilled to learn that,,,that is such wonderful converging of ideas and perspective...

11:40 AM  

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