June 2018 E-News from the Siburt Institute

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The Way of Wise Leadership

It’s June – one of my favorite times of the year! Abilene has not yet hit the full blistering heat of August, and our Doctor of Ministry students were here this month for classes. These men and women are usually mid-career ministers and leaders from across the nation. They arrive with thoughtful questions, eager to engage with each other and with faculty to grow in the practice of mission-oriented leadership.

One word that speaks to the sort of leadership that congregational leaders seek is phronesis, or practical wisdom. This term, handed down from Greek philosophers and baptized by Paul in his Philippian letter, speaks to a way of being, thinking and feeling that leads to proper action. Phronesis is the wisdom drawn from experience, knowledge and insight to do the good and right thing in any particular context and moment.

Who doesn’t want to develop that capacity?

To be a person who possesses phronesis, or practical wisdom, may I suggest attending to the many sources that give life to practice? Practical wisdom is rooted in:

  1. Situated awareness – noticing and interpreting the particular context in which you are located at any given time.

  2. Emotional attunement – identifying and remaining aware of your emotions and the emotions of others.

  3. Critical thinking – developing the capacity to analyze and evaluate concepts, ideas and actions in a disinterested way to pursue what is true.

  4. Relational connectedness – nurturing a web of relationships as a mentor, as a mentee, with your peers and with trusted friends.

  5. Theological imagination – working with the narratives of Scripture to draw out God’s wisdom and empathy to shape Christian responses.

  6. Pastoral imagination – practicing a sometimes risky but always grace-filled engagement to partner with God’s redemptive purposes.

  7. Spiritual discernment – perceiving what is of God and what is not of God by spending time with Him.

  8. Communal wisdom – recognizing that you’re not the first person to wrestle with this – you’re part of a community.

All of these ways to engage require practice and attention. Whether you are formally studying ministry and theology like the doctoral students on our campus earlier this month or whether you are deeply embedded in congregational life and leadership, the quest to be a person of practical wisdom is a real one. Perhaps one way to deepen the hunger for that quest is to suggest another look at the apostle Paul’s use of the word phronesis in the Philippian letter, when he encourages the Philippians to model their thinking, feeling and action on Jesus. The word isn’t obvious in English, but in Greek it is crystal clear. Paul says, “Let the same phronesis be in you as was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). Wisdom, practical wisdom, indeed!




Siburt offers a glance at 2017-18

We are excited to release the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry’s 2017-18 Year in Review. This publication traces our team’s pursuit of the institute’s mission through four major practices: formation, resourcing, networking and reflection. Take a look with us at some of the past year’s highlights, including a sampling of trends revealed by the 2018 Ministers’ Salary Survey, heartfelt stories from participants in the Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative and the fostering of important lines of communication through the CHARIS blog.

We continue to cherish the many opportunities to serve, work with and learn from congregational leaders from across the nation. Click here to read the review online.

Explore ‘Why Preaching Matters!’ with Rick Atchley, Aug. 30

The Siburt Institute for Church Ministry invites you to bring your appetite for great food and great teaching to our “Why Preaching Matters!” Lunch and Learn event with Rick Atchley (’78) on Thursday, Aug. 30.

Each week, countless ministers stand in pulpits across the world to proclaim a Gospel message. Some people think preaching is a dying art, but “Why Preaching Matters!” will examine why preaching remains at the core of the Christian experience. Atchley, senior teaching minister at The Hills Church in North Richland Hills (Texas), will bring his passion for the verbal witness of the kingship and lordship of Christ to the conversation.

Atchley began his preaching career at the Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene nearly 40 years ago. He is widely known for his ministry to ministers and pouring himself into the development of preachers for the next generation.

Register today. The event will take place at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 30, in ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center. Ministers, church staff, elders and the general public are invited to attend. The cost is $15 per person and the deadline to register is Aug. 23.

McLaughlin-Sheasby encourages: ‘Don’t check your wounds at the door’

In a time when social media and other outlets allow us to create customized, flattering public images for ourselves, Amy McLaughlin-Sheasby (’15 M.Div.) invites us to explore the power of faith communities to make space for our most authentic selves, wounds and all. Her latest CHARIS blog post, “Don’t Check Your Wounds at the Door,” offers a fresh perspective on the choice to engage, rather than avoid, the realities of woundedness among church-goers. McLaughlin-Sheasby is a doctoral student at Boston University and adjunct instructor for ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry.

Still time to register for Summer Seminar with Randy Harris, Aug. 3-4

Randy Harris and Dr. Royce Money (’64) extend a special video invitation to the upcoming Summer Seminar on ACU’s campus, Aug. 3-4! Harris and Money will be joined by several colleagues in this weekend intensive Bible course to explore the topic, “The Gospel and Culture: What’s a Christian to Do?” The event will provide tools to help participants respond more reflectively and intentionally to the constantly changing culture that surrounds them. Registration is $60 per person, which covers meals, snacks and handout materials. Register by July 26.

Join us for ‘Fight Night’ with Les Parrott, Sept. 16

Recent research reveals that “practical help in marriage” is among the top needs that people seek from their local church and that “resolving conflict” is the most important skill-set for boosting marital success. It relates to every couple – after all, even the most loving couples still have conflict.

Summit is teaming up with local churches in Abilene to provide the ultimate relationship experience, Fight Night with Dr. Les Parrott, at the Abilene Civic Center on Sunday, Sept. 16. The evening is supported by the Abilene Association of Congregations and ACU’s Family First initiative. Under Parrott’s guidance, Fight Night will provide a time of growth for couples throughout the entire community. It’s a fresh, humorous, authentic and practical way to minister to couples. And did we mention it’s fun as well?

Parrott is a professor of psychology at Northwest University and one of the founders of the Center for Healthy Relationships on the campus of Olivet University. He and his wife, Leslie, have been featured in USA Today and The New York Times, as well as on CNN, The Today Show and Oprah. The couple is known widely for their effective marriage advice.

For any age or relationship stage, Fight Night will provide tools to improve relationships immediately. Join us for an evening of finding wholeness in our relationships! Registration details to be announced.

Find more information about speakers, times and locations at acu.edu/summit! See you in September!



  • “When we find ourselves more and more on the margins, faced with the status of strangers and exiles, out of power and out of favor, it begins to dawn on us that we truly need the power of God’s Spirit to live on God’s mission.” – Dr. Leonard Allen, Poured Out
  • “On the road to maturity, there are no shortcuts. No secret paths. No hidden portal to transport you from one end to the other … No, when it comes to maturity, the only way out is through. Sometimes, when you ask God to help you move the mountain, he gives you a shovel and a wheelbarrow.” – John Alan Turner, Still Me

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