SMP Intensives ended at noon today, which is a week-long, intense course of on-campus classes for students in the Specific Ministry Pastor program. Due to the uniqueness of the course and its long-distance nature (the SMP program is designed to train and mentor a leader within a congregation that could not otherwise call a pastor – often a vacancy that has no funds or a non-English-speaking ministry that would be damaged by the prolonged absence of the student – and is not meant for, let alone open to, most men who desire to become a pastor), we rarely get to see these men, though they are a part of our student body.
Most of the hours in each day are packed with classes, though time for worship in Kramer Chapel was built into their schedules, which is why the pews looked more full than usual this week during daily chapel services. On Thursday evening, the students of the SMP program also took the time to host gemütlichkeit for the whole Seminary community. Gemütlichkeit is a German word that is in some ways untranslatable – it describes a feeling rather than a specific term, one of warmth, friendliness, contentedness, and good cheer – but here at CTSFW it means the weekly Friday evening get-together for faculty, students, and their families to gather at the Student Commons to drink beer and talk.
It can be hard to convey how much of the formation process of Seminary occurs between classes. There’s a lot of laughter at these get-togethers, but if you eavesdrop on the conversations, 90% of it is about theology. They argue, agree, run their questions and opinions past the professors (one of the things we are quietly proud of here is the fact that CTSFW has no faculty lounge; the professors eat lunch and drink coffee – and beer – with their students), and through it all learn. In the words of Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And so it is a joy to have these men here with us. God’s blessings to our SMP students as they travel home to their families and their ministries!