Listen in, over the next several weeks as some of the current diakonia students chat about their experience with the guided, self-study program for Adult Faith formation. This is the fourth in the series.
Why did I join the program?
I have flirted with entering this program on and off for years, but circumstances never worked out for me to actually do it. Now I have a fully supportive pastor and time to do this. Among other things, I wanted to better understand the roots and shape of the very Lutheran urge for justice—justice for both individuals and for groups—trying to apply Jesus’ care for all people. The need for justice is part of problems ranging from racial and sexual identity to the status of immigrants. My overall goals are to grow in knowledge and faith through the courses, and then, if my pastor agrees, go on to do what is needed to become a parish deacon.
The content has been almost uniformly rewarding. One class is not necessarily like the next, as the courses approach both academic questions and relational ones. Sometimes Zoom is a blessing (no travel distances, class time is spent on Zoom, not getting there, someone on vacation can still participate) and sometimes not (it’s hard to really know people you only see in little boxes, and sound quality is not always great). Presentation styles vary according to the facilitator/coach. Some are intent on presenting material. Some are eager to hear our ideas and enable discussions. Some are skilled at giving strength to our uncertain selves. Technical issues worked out reasonably well with minimum glitches, and since for us, at least, all sessions are recorded, those who miss a meeting can catch up. Much depends on what the student hopes to get out of the program, and what her (yes, mostly female in my class) comfort level is with contributing.
Comments to potential students:
Prepare to commit to Zoom time. Prepare to have one course follow immediately on the heels of the previous, though you don’t have to take them all or in the sequence offered. Expect to buy books for nearly every class (many are available used and there may be a book exchange), and to do light reading in some classes, heavy in others. Definitely expect to do some writing. Plan to watch videos each week, and contribute—it’s better for everyone as we learn from each other as well as from assignments and the coach. Prepare for a variety of teaching styles. You will likely review some of what you already know, and learn lots you didn’t and probably hear viewpoints different from your own. Don’t let your age or experience (or lack of either) get in the way.
I would encourage you to try several classes. Of course you might stop after one class, but there is much to justify testing the water with more than a single toe and more than one time only.