Core Competencies

I have been spending a lot of time lately working on core competencies. We have them in seminary life. They are the end goals of a curriculum that hopefully lead the institution to fulfill its mission. They are the skillsets, the character traits and the base of knowledge we want each graduate to possess when we are done with them. We assess and evaluate to try to ascertain how well we are doing based on how well our graduates are doing. Since I often help our educational partners around the world as well as our own campus with curriculum development, I spend time on such things.

Recently, however, I have been working on core competencies in the context of several local churches I am consulting. It has been very enlightening. So, I ask: What are the basic skills, character traits, and what is the knowledge base a church member should possess in order to be an obedient, fruit-producing disciple? What is the church teaching and/or doing to help the members to obtain these competencies within their local context? How intentional is the church in identifying and conducting this process? Does the average church member have an awareness of where they are, where they need to be and how to get there?

I have watched some really good leaders working through this in the local church. They have connected God’s mission to a biblical vision with these personal competencies. They have developed clear statements of expectation for the individual that will lead them to fulfill vision and mission. From spiritual disciplines to ministry responsibilities, this intentionality has helped to connect the dots between the personal and the corporate. They understand the need to focus on the biblical objective rather than simply upon the personal subjective. They recognize that the program activity of the church should be designed to develop these core competencies and not compete with them. This understanding defines what the curriculum of the church must be in their small groups and discipleship ministries. There is a common core in the best and most biblical sense.

How about you church leader? Do your people know how well they are progressing in their discipleship? Do they have specific, personal goals and spiritual markers in terms of fulfilling biblical vision? Can they define and assess what is needed next? Are you developing and conducting the proper training and offering the right ministry opportunities for your members to obtain these understood core competencies?

Take the time to prayerfully write out biblical goals for knowing, doing, and being. Work through what it means and looks like for a disciple to fulfill the biblical vision for your church. If you need help figuring out mission and vision go back and review some of my previous posts. Teach these competencies and the pathways to them to your people and develop a curricular process to help them become competent in each one. We can only have expectations for our members as high as the quality of discipleship development we are offering them.

Core training, now that will make you truly “cross”-fit!

Suggested Reading Before You Begin Seminary

Seminary is (or should be) a time of intense study, filled with lots of interesting reading. Yet, in order for seminary students to make the most of their time, they ought to have a good grasp of the academic and, especially, spiritual skills and disciplines required to succeed in seminary. To that end, Southeastern’s Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (Dr. Chuck Lawless) provided the following list. Are there any key books that you think we are missing?

Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. rev. ed. New York, N.Y.: Touchstone, 1972. (426 pp.)

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2014. (272 pp.)

Blue, Ron. Faith-Based Family Finances: Let Go of Worry and Grow in Confidence. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. (592 pp.)

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. repr. Minneapolis, Minn.: Desiring God, 2014. (254 pp.)

Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Publishing Group, 2006. (192 pp.)

Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Edited by L. Arnold Hustad. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2015. (496 pp.)

Fee, Gordon D. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 4th ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014. (298 pp.)

Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999. (528 pp.)

Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group USA, 2008. (310 pp.)

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York, N.Y.: MacMillan, 1952. (260 pp.)

Miller, Paul E. A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2009. (288 pp.)

Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1973. (286 pp.)

Piper, John. Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2010. (289 pp.)

Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? 50th Anniv. Ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2005. (292 pp.)

Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. 5th ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009. (293 pp.)

The Holy Bible.

Thielicke, Helmut. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1962; repr. Eastford, Conn.: Martino Fine Books, 2014. (58 pp.)

Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012. (240 pp.)

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. rev. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2014. (352 pp.)

Williams, Joseph M., and Gregory G. Colomb. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: Longman, 2010. (288 pp.)

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