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Church History A GRADUATING PORTFOLIO

Make a survey of a para-church organisation’s work


(Alternative to writing a Thesis)
Make a study of a denomination’s distinctives.
Practical Theology
Keep a journal for a month of daily reflections.
Background to the Problem of Assessment
Compile a set of 12 prayers of various styles and themes
Make an ethical study of an issue in the realm of moral
Because of the kind of educational background pertaining in Pakistan, most
theology, or environmental theology, or social theology. (Term
students experience great difficulty in writing an essay. Consequently in their
paper)
final year in Seminary many find thesis preparation stressful and producing a
Compile a term’s Sunday School syllabus or an Adult Class
thesis that is truly academic almost impossible.
outline.
This is because they have had little or no training in developing a logical
Pastoral Theology
argument on any debatable issue or propounding a supported thesis about
Describe the character, gifts, and role of a good padre. (Term
any issue they wish to present for discussion and consideration. At best their
paper)
writing is simply descriptive of the writings of others, with little or no
Agenda and minutes of a Librarians’ meeting.
evaluation.
Present a hymn, with music, historical background, application
Also, for the most part, they have had no training in theological reflection
and example of use in a service. (Tape, script and outline)
and in articulating creative thinking that may result from thinking deeply
Compile a case history of a person who has been counselled by
about a subject. Even marshalling other people’s ideas to find some
you, or, compare three case histories of a similar nature from a book on
consensus of the opinions of others can be daunting, quite apart from any
counselling. (Term Paper).
critical evaluation of such views and any assessment of their significance for
a particular issue under consideration.

An Alternative Approach: Portfolios.

The portfolio approach to student assessment, taken from the world of


advertise-ment, has been used in the arts field for some time now. Where
creative expression (being and doing/performance skills) is important, rather
than academic knowledge and scholarly understanding, it makes good sense to
judge a display of select work done over the period of study. This is
presented to demonstrating the development of the student’s performance skills
and his or her skills of self-expression.
In the theological “school” (whether institution or training programme)
what matters more should be the development of Christian character and the
formation of biblical attitudes (being), followed by the acquisition of those
performance skills involved in Practical Theology (doing) such as
communication, counselling, the conduct of worship and management. The
traditional fields of Bible Knowledge, of Christian Doctrine and Philosophy,
and of Church History (in the educational domains of knowledge and
understanding) can then be seen as what they truly are: means to an end, rather
than an end in themselves.
It is easy to see why learning largely associated with the acquisition of
knowledge and understanding lends itself to assessment by essay and thesis
writing. It is not so easy to see how attitudes and performance skills can be
assessed. Any evaluation requires the production of some objective material
that can reasonably be judged to reveal the approach and ability of the
presenter.

Some Ideas for Portfolio Presentations

• Videos of various different communication exercises (e.g. a 5 minute


children’s talk)
• Journal extract of a personal Retreat
• Outline of a service of worship for a particular occasion with the prayers
said.
• Agenda for a church committee meeting plus minutes of the said meeting
• Theological reflection on a recent event / pressing issue

How can a portfolio approach replace the essay / thesis in the domains of
knowledge and understanding?
Here we are not simply looking for a proper understanding of studied
material in itself, but for the application of such knowledge to today’s world.
So a portfolio might include:
• A point-by-point comparison of an historical event with a present
situation
• A book review of a book on a practical subject.
• A selection of scripture passages to illustrate a contemporary problem
or personal issue
• A 10 minute recording of a presentation of an ethical argument in a
debate on Christian behaviour in a particular situation

Future Collaboration?

No doubt these ideas have been thought about before by someone


somewhere! It would save much time and effort to be able to share such
thinking in future, possibly over the inter-net or via e-mails. I would be glad to
hear from anyone so interested.
Suggested Assignments
for
a Basic Theological Portfolio
Using the following modes of presentations:
Script – tape / video – approach outline – discussion questions –
term paper – survey – journal – compilation – syllabus – agenda &
minutes – art-work
Biblical Studies
OT Dramatize an episode either of OT history or in the life an
Old Testament character and present a script.
Make a tape of a musical version of a poetical section of the
Old Testament outside the book of Psalms.
Make a presentation of a prophecy using multi-media. (Outline
the resulting presentation.)
NT Prepare a dramatised Bible Study of an episode in the
Gospels or Acts.(Present the script / outline)
Outline discussion questions that are culturally related to today
for a Study of a NT passage.
Doctrine
Expound three doctrines that are significant for three common
daily Situations (Term paper)
Apologetics
Show the importance of a key apologetic issue for today. And
outline possible solutions to the problems involved.
Contemporary Studies
Either survey the main cultural challenges to Christian faith
today or prepare a study of one aspect of today’s culture.
Make a comparative study of one area of Islam and
Christianity.
Communication
Write an essay on communicating the Gospel today.
Make a study of the problems of communication in the
church and suggest practical solutions. (Survey)
Outline a multi-media communication of a Gospel truth.
Sermon. (Script as preached in field work)