Each quarter you can learn about one of our partners and their unique application of CLD resources to their ministry. This month features an interview with Western Seminary alumnus Steve Thomas, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Corvallis, OR.
CLD: Steve, let’s start at the outcome level. What were you hoping to gain? And by the way, we hear you were a little skeptical about the possibilities at first. Yes?
Steve: I was a little skeptical at first, mostly with how the media and content would be received. They have not only well-received, but they seem to be opening up important, ongoing conversations. People don’t want to miss out on the sessions and the discussions. I think it’s awakening a greater faith and appreciation for the particular topics we’ve used.
Additionally, I’ve wanted for years to get a foundational series of classes that are inter-generational prioritizing content over life-stage. These courses are the first pillars in that foundation. So far, they have both surfaced and satisfied a hunger within our participants.
CLD: So what courses have you used so far? And why did you choose them?
Steve: We’ve presented two so far . . . “How to Study Your Bible” with Dr. Todd Miles and “What is the Gospel?” with Dr. Marc Cortez. We chose these courses because they are so foundational to one’s faith and they address some of the multi-generational challenges I’ve mentioned. And it helped that I knew the professors, both godly, gifted and competent. Also another plus . . . utilizing the courses gives us the opportunity to give our own gifted teachers a needed break.
CLD: How about just general mechanics of offering the courses? Technology and such?
Steve: On the user end, the technology has been great. The course notes and videos are easy to access and the seminary has been phenomenal to work with. I’ve been very pleased.
CLD: Anything surprise you along the way?
Steve: Using the CLD courses has actually given me a tremendous opportunity to equip the next generation of teachers. I had not anticipated this but, when we began to use the Todd Miles class, the Lord gave me this idea of team facilitating the class with one of our college age interns. It was so great! I have wanted to figure out how to simultaneously train college and young adults to teach other adults, even those older than them, and give them the foundational content they need to teach. By using the CLD courses as the content, my intern was able to learn the material with me weekly, prepare questions with me weekly, and then help facilitate a class discussion with adults.
Honestly, this has even allowed me to pull one of our more gifted teachers, who has a very taxing job with limited “prep” time, back into the teaching rotation because he does not need to prepare the content, but facilitate the discussion. His own learning, Bible knowledge, and outside reading supplement what the course provides. But, the course provides the majority of the content and the handouts. I’m able to get the body working better and those with gifts, using them again.