by Frank Brazell
Have you ever felt like a satellite, just wandering around on the periphery of a group of people who all seem to have the inside scoop? When you’re on the faculty at a predominantly online institution, living miles or even whole states away from your nearest colleague, such feelings are entirely possible. Despite the degree to which video calls and virtual meetings help us communicate professionally, they don’t scratch the itch when it comes to human connection.
Last weekend, our faculty had the opportunity to come
together for a weekend of professional and spiritual development. Dr. Joshua Thomas (Intercultural Studies) came all the way from Florida, while Dr. Tom Johnson (Dean of Graduate Studies) was practically in his own backyard. Many faculty members met for the first time as we arrived, but two discovered that they had been involved in ministry together thirty years ago! Dr. Ken Duffy (Christian Counseling) and Professor Jan Krueger (Biology), along with their respective spouses, had served together more than three decades ago in another state, only to renew their relationship while serving at Manna U.
Our faculty enjoyed worship led by alumni, staff, and
faculty in which we were able to slow down and connect with the Lord. Then, across six individual sessions, we received a combination of spiritual formation
and professional development from Dr. Johnson, Dr. Robert Clanton (Dean of Undergraduate Studies), Ron McBride (Provost), and our 5th President, Dr. Carlo Serrano. Rather than just talking about the newest
teaching methods or the latest technological innovation, we were encouraged to get to know one another, and to zero-in our focus on the thing that tied us all together: our students.
Nobody should feel like a satellite. Our whole team was
connected by a common thread, and so we learned how we can work together to serve that common thread: again, our students. Whether you teach History or
Biology, Counseling or Spiritual Formation, professors involved in Biblical Higher Education all teach the same three fundamentals. To this end, our faculty have learned that each of our classes at Manna U all have three of the same pieces of curriculum:
1) Every class is a spiritual formation class.
2) Every class is an English class.
3) Every class must be a hermeneutics class.
When we answer the call to Educate, Equip, and Empower emerging leaders, we have to begin with the end in mind. We’re called to help our students learn to think, and how to develop their own biblical worldview.
To this end, Dr. Serrano reminded our faculty that “relevance is more important than rigor. Tough courses don’t translate to more learning.” Any students reading this should rejoice! It isn’t by doing more discussion boards or
reading an extra book that we’ll equip our students for the journey ahead, it’s by focusing on what our faculty can do as a team, all working towards the same goal. And when we do that, no one should feel like a satellite.