Last time I talked about my experiences so far as a student pastor. There has been some overlap between grad school and my student pastor experiences due to the overlapping nature of the content involved. School requires work term placements within a church setting and my classroom learning has been incorporated into my role as a student pastor. It’s been great to apply what I’ve been learning directly into a practical setting. I couldn’t ask for a better way of practicing what I’m learning in real time.
Grad school has also allowed me to discuss some difficult topics in a non-threatening and supportive environment. Well… for the most part, it’s been non-threatening and supportive. I have noticed a bit of a difference between my undergrad and my grad school experiences though. How so? Well…
Many people in undergrad philosophy programs are there to question the established church. There were plenty of challenges to the established religious opinions. I felt outnumbered most of the time and I felt that it was an uphill battle to defend my faith in the face of so much “post modern opposition”. But, everyone was able to respectfully ask the questions and share the opinions that they wanted to ask, regardless of their perspectives (myself included).
Grad school has been a little different. Most of the time, I’ve felt comfortable to ask questions or discuss things in an open and non-judgmental environment. But unfortunately, there have also been times when I’ve detected a little resistance to my questions from other students. It feels to me like there are those that don’t like their denominations questioned or their worldviews to be challenged. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have sort of felt that disagreement was seen as a slight to some other students. Don’t get me wrong… for the most part, classroom discussions have been great. It’s just been the odd comment that has made me feel this way. Note: I’ve only felt this from other students. The professors have always been open minded, approachable and encouraging of alternate viewpoints, regardless of their own opinions.
The other thing that’s been great about grad school has been the chance to solidify my Christian worldview in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. My undergrad was neither encouraging or discouraging. It just was. But my grad program has been about building stronger faith and encouraging me to walk with God. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals has been extremely motivating and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn in such a great atmosphere.
I look forward to continuing my grad studies. I’m working on my master’s degree part time, and it’ll take me another 5 years or so to complete it. I’m looking forward to the additional learning that I’ll be receiving in the years to come and the additional growth that will come out of it as well.
Stay tuned… I’ve got one more post left in this series of biographical posts. Next time, I’ll be talking about my next steps and where I’m headed.