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Richard Robert Osmer

By Kathy L. Dawson

Protestant

RICHARD ROBERT OSMER (b. 1950): Richard Osmer lifts up the importance of the teaching ministry in the church. He brings to this love of pedagogy a strong theological and biblical base. His works challenge the reader to think more deeply about the teaching ministry in a Practical Theology context and his nurture of students has had a lasting impact on the church at large. Osmer is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Biography

Early Influences:

            Richard Osmer is the middle child of Bernice and Richard Osmer. Born in 1950, when the family lived in Larchmont, New York, Osmer spent most of his childhood and youth in Greensboro, North Carolina with a brief sojourn in St. Louis, Missouri. His parents were both active members of churches from the Reformed Tradition (Presbyterian and United Church of Christ). His father was chair of the Sunday School at one point before becoming a ruling elder.

            Osmer attributes his own early formation to a succession of excellent teachers in the church. Most of these teachers in his upbringing were male from his early years, through confirmation and high school. He indicates that these strong male teaching models showed him that there was nothing odd about his desire to also serve in the teaching ministry.

Formal and Informal Education:

            After attaining his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1972, Richard Osmer went on to Harvard Divinity School for his graduate studies. There he would meet his lifelong mentor, James Fowler. His initial class with Fowler was the first group of students that Fowler was instructing in his exploration of faith development. Both Osmer and his wife Sally, also a student at Harvard would be early researchers conducting interviews for Fowler’s emerging Faith Development Theory.

            The Osmers moved from Harvard to Yale to complete their studies, then took congregations as co-pastors in the mountains of North Carolina. In the summers they were active participants in the Lake Junaluska laboratory schools that taught young educators the best practices being used in education through hands-on learning. Osmer remembers fondly a particular lesson where they set up stations around the lake that reflected the different ministries visited by Paul in his journeys around the Mediterranean Sea. The Osmers invited members of their congregations to also participate in these lab schools that allowed their church to begin a Sunday School ministry and youth program where none existed before.

            After several years in ministry, Richard felt the call to doctoral studies and sought out his former mentor, James Fowler, now at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. During this portion of his studies, Osmer was introduced to the field of Practical Theology and found additional mentors in Charles Gerkin and Rodney Hunter. They helped him to see the “theological particularity” of the teaching ministry. In other words, teaching in the Buddhist tradition looks very different than teaching in the Reformed tradition, because theology influences both the ways we teach and the content of our teaching. These same mentors along with Fowler would serve on his dissertation committee. His dissertation focused on the conflict in theologies between the religious education movement and neo-orthodoxy, showing how each influenced the practice of the teaching ministry in different ways.

Professional Life:

            Upon completing his studies, Osmer was offered an appointment at Candler, which included the beginning of the Center for Faith Development. After three years in this appointment, he felt the call to teaching at what is now Union Presbyterian Seminary, in Richmond, Virginia. Here he met colleagues, such as Sara Little, Charles Melchert, Gwen Hawley, and many others who taught at either Union or the Presbyterian School of Christian Education that sat across Brook Road from Union’s campus. Osmer served here as Assistant Professor of Christian Education for four years.

        Princeton Theological Seminary came recruiting in 1990 and Richard Osmer has served on their faculty since that time. He has served as the Director of the Tennent School of Christian Education, and the Chair of the Department of Practical Theology. He has also held two different chairs: Thomas W. Synnott Professor of Christian Education, 1990‑2012 and currently Ralph B. and Helen S. Ashenfelter Professor of Mission and Evangelism. 2013-present. This second appointment speaks to his evolving sense of call in connecting the teaching ministry to the broader life of the church.

        He has written or co-written ten books, with three more in the works at this writing. In addition he has written numerous chapters and articles, directed the Belonging to God and Study Catechism project for the Presbyterian Church (USA), and participated in many grant funded studies. He has also been influential in birthing the International Academy of Practical Theology and Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry.

All information in this biography was obtained through interviews and correspondence with Richard Osmer in the summer and fall of 2015.


Contributions to Christian Education

Richard Osmer’s contributions to Christian education have been myriad, but this essay will lift up four main areas of focus: a) bringing in other disciplines to enhance the work of the teaching ministry, b) creating an understanding and framework for the field of Practical Theology in its relationship to the teaching ministry, c) placing Christian education in the United States in dialogue with world Christianity, and d) holding the church up as the central place of teaching ministry.

Interdisciplinary Work in the Teaching Ministry

            Richard Osmer has seen the problem that many churches have faced of isolating their teaching ministry from the larger conversation going on in the church and academy. Some Christian education teams focus all their energy on creating programs and the logistics of staffing a volunteer teaching force, while neglecting the larger questions of why teach in the church and how to do it most faithfully.

            In writings beginning with A Teachable Spirit in 1990, Osmer brings the riches of theology in conversation with the social and natural sciences to enhance the mission of teaching in the church. He explores the office of teaching in this first work, looking at how the theology in which a teaching ministry finds itself, influences the very role of the teacher, as well as the content and process of education.

            He expands his thinking in what is probably his most complex and comprehensive work, The Teaching Ministry of Congregations (2005), bringing in not only a biblical exegesis of Paul’s letters as the foundational basis of the teaching ministry, but also includes the arts and the theo-drama of our relationship to God as instrumental in connecting Christian education to the larger narrative of our faith.

Practical Theology

            Practical Theology at Princeton dates back to the mid 19th century, according to Richard Osmer. This is traced in a recent book he co-wrote with colleague, Gordon Mikoski for Princeton’s bicentennial in 2012. He may wish that he could take credit for bringing the language of Practical Theology to Princeton, but he certainly helped to define the current shape of this field not only at Princeton, but in the larger discourse.

            Each student in our professional master’s degree in Practical Theology begins his or her work in this field by reading Osmer’s seminal work, Practical Theology, An Introduction (2008). In this book he draws on the influence of European Practical Theology and the Clinical Pastoral Education movement to offer readers four tasks that will aid them in understanding and addressing issues in their ministry settings. With four companion questions of 1) What is going on? 2) Why is it happening? 3) What ought to be going on? 4) How might we respond?, Osmer offers a way of approaching Practical Theology that is tangible and helpful to the Christian educator seeking to understand and address situations in her or his ministry.

World Conversation

            As a companion to this work in Practical Theology, Osmer has kept abreast of the larger conversation in Practical Theology and the teaching ministry going on throughout the world. Globalization has had an impact throughout our culture and the church has been hard pressed to begin or continue dialogue with churches throughout the world, particularly in the global South.

            Along with Don Browning and Friedrich Schweitzer, his co-author on a book in 2003, Osmer has been influential and active in beginning an international dialogue of practical theologians. This International Academy of Practical Theology had its first meeting on Princeton’s campus in the early 1990’s, due in part to Osmer’s influence.

            Readers can get glimpses of this international conversation in The Teaching Ministry of Congregations, mentioned above, where Osmer conducts case studies of the teaching ministry in churches in South Korea and South Africa.  In addition some of his articles and chapters in journals and books in the attached bibliography talk about the impact of globalization and missional theology on the teaching ministry of the church.

Church Ministry at the Center

            Finally, Richard Osmer is both an academic professor and a pastor, so the church is at the heart of his own ministry and writings. Probably his most popular book is Teaching for Faith: A Guide for Leaders of Adult Groups (1992), in which he explores the multi-faceted ways in which relationship with God happens in the process of teaching in church settings. Here he offers practical advice to leaders of adult groups in writing a presentation outline, leading a group discussion, and fostering the mystery of faith maturity. Still in print, this book continues to influence adult ministry in today’s churches, as it did when it was published.

                  The biographical essay above mentioned Richard Osmer’s work in developing two new catechisms for the Presbyterian Church (USA). This is quite a feat in an era of theological diversity and relativity. In companionship with this project, Osmer traced the history of Confirmation and its current practice in the Presbyterian Church and beyond. He has continued this work to the present as he co-directs an ecumenical Confirmation Project, seeking out the effectiveness of current practice in aiding youth to strengthen their discipleship


Bibliography

Books:

Osmer, R.R., Reed, A. & Smucker, M. (2015) Spiritual companioning: A guide to Protestant theology        and practice. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Osmer, R.R. & Mikoski, G. (2011) With Piety and Learning: The History of Practical Theology at                  Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-2012. Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Osmer, R.R. (2008) Practical Theology: An introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Osmer, R.R. & Dean, K.C. (Eds.) (2006) Youth, religion, and globalization: New research in Practical         Theology. Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Osmer, R.R. (2005) The teaching ministry of congregations. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox.

Osmer, R.R. & Schweitzer, F.L. (2003) Religious education between modernization and globalization. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Osmer, R.R. & Schweizer, F.L. (Eds.) (2003) Developing a public faith: New directions in Practical Theology--Essays in honor of James W. Fowler. St. Louis: Chalice Press.

Osmer, R.R. (1995) Confirmation: Presbyterian practices in ecumenical perspective. Louisville: Geneva Press.

Osmer, R.R. (1992) Teaching for faith: A guide for leaders of adult groups. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox.

Osmer, R.R. (1990) A Teachable Spirit: Recovering the Teaching Office in the Church. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox.

 

Chapters in Books:

Osmer, R.R. (2014). The empirical in practical theology: contemporary trajectories. In K.             Cahalan and G. Mikoski (Eds.), Mapping Contemporary Practical Theology. Lanham, MD: Rowen & Littlefield.

Osmer, R.R. (2012). Practical Theology in the United States. In B. Miller-McLemore (Ed.), The   Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Practical Theology. London, UK: Wiley/Blackwell.

Osmer, R.R. (2011). Original sin and Christian parenting: a constructive proposal. In T. Jackson (Ed.), The Best Love of the Child. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Osmer, R.R. (2006). Toward a transversal model of interdisciplinary thinking in Practical Theology. In F.L. Shults (Ed.), The Evolution of Rationality: Interdisciplinary Essays in      Honor of J. Wentzel van Huyssteen. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Osmer, R.R. (2005). The rationality of theological disciplines. Response to Eilert Herms. In         Welker, M. & Schweitzer, F.L., (Eds.) Reconsidering the boundaries between    theological disciplines. Münster: Lit Verlag.

Osmer, R.R. (2004). Johannes van der Ven’s contribution to the new consensus in Practical          Theology. In C. Hermans (Ed.), Hermeneutics and Empirical Research in Practical         Theology. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

Osmer, R.R. (2003). Globalization, global reflexivity, and Faith Development Theory: The           continuing contribution of Fowler’s research. In R.R. Osmer and F.L. Schweitzer (Eds.)      Developing a Public Faith: New Directions in Practical Theology—Essays in Honor of      James W. Fowler. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.

Osmer, R.R. (2000). The teaching ministry in a multicultural world. In Stackhouse, M. (Ed.)         Religion, globalization, & spheres of life. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Osmer, R.R. (2000). The swing of the pendulum: Evolutionary thinking in the religious     education theory of American Mainline Protestantism. In Lee, J.M. (Ed.) Religious    Education toward the new millennium. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.

Osmer, R.R. (2000). Beyond the theological encyclopedia: The rhetoric of Practical Theology in   a new theological paradigm. In Cunningham, D. (Ed.) To please, persuade, and delight.             Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Osmer, R.R. (1993). Futuribles in the Mainline church and its teaching ministry: Reflections on    the effective Christian Education Study. In Schuller, D., Rethinking Christian Education.         St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.

Osmer, R.R. (1991). Teaching in the Reformed Tradition: The contribution of Luther and Calvin.             In Price, E.B. & Foster, C.R., By what authority. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Christian Education. (1991). The encyclopedia of the Reformed faith. Louisville:      Westminster/John Knox Press.

Osmer, R.R. (1990) Evangelism and education: Developmental perspectives. In Lovell, A.B.,        Evangelism in the Reformed Tradition. Decatur, GA: CTS Press.

Osmer, R.R. (1990) Teaching as Practical Theology: Methodological reflections. In Seymour, J.    & Miller, D. (Eds.), Theological Perspectives in Christian Education. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Education, nurture, & care, Development, and Pilgrimage. (1990) Abingdon dictionary of   pastoral care. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.

 

Articles:

Osmer, R.R. with Salazar-Newton, A. (2013) The practice of reading and the formation of the      moral imagination. Journal of Ecclesiology and Ethnography

Osmer, R.R. (2007) Welcoming children: a practical theology of childhood. Theology Today,         64 (3).

Osmer, R.R. (2001) Proclaiming the Gospel in a wired world. Princeton Lectures on Youth,           Church, and Culture. Princeton: Institute for Youth Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary.

Osmer, R.R. & Sitler, J. (2000) The shape of pastoral ministry. Theology and Worship     Occasional Papers, No. 13. Louisville: Presbyterian Church (USA).

Osmer, R.R. (2000, January) The Christian education of children in the Protestant tradition.         Theology Today. Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary.

Osmer, R.R. (1999) Teaching the catechism in the children’s sermon: A new possibility for          biblical and theological literacy. Journal for Preachers, 22(4).

Osmer, R.R. (1997) Rationality in Practical Theology: A map of the emerging discussion.             International Journal of Practical Theology, 1(1).

Osmer, R.R. & Pidcock-Lester, K. (1995) Baptism and confirmation: Historical perspectives on   a contemporary problem. Reformed Liturgy & Music, 29(2).

Osmer, R.R. (1992, July). [Review of the book The teaching minister, by C.M. Williamson &      R.J. Allen]. The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 13(2).

Osmer, R.R. (1992, April). Reconstructing confirmation. Theology Today, 49(1).

Osmer, R.R. (1991, Spring). The teaching authority of the minister in the Reformed Tradition: A contemporary proposal. Affirmation, 4(1).

Osmer, R.R. (1991, January). [Review of the book How faith matures, by C. E. Nelson]. Theology Today, 47(4).

Osmer, R.R. (1990). [Review of the book The fragility of knowledge: Theological education in      the church and the university, by E. Farley]. Interpretation: A journal of Bible &    theology.

Osmer, R.R. (1990, Winter). Fowler and the Reformed Tradition: An exercise in theological          reflection in Religious Education. Journal of Religious Education.

Osmer, R.R. (1989, Fall). Faith development in the adult life cycle. Journal of Religious    Education, 84(4)

Osmer, R.R. (1989, Spring). Challenges to youth ministry in the Mainline Churches: Thought      provokers. Affirmation 2(1).

Osmer, R.R. (1989, Fall) Faith development and the adult lifecycle: A review of the research. Journal of Religious Education.

 

Additional resources by Osmer available on the internet:

Osmer, R. and Douglass, K. Rethinking Confirmation ... (2015). Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39hEj9rlJDA

The Confirmation Project website http://theconfirmationproject.com/our-team/, Richard Osmer is co-director. Accessed 2015.

Osmer, R. Spiritual Formation as Practical Theology, Lecture at Wheaton College (2008). Retrieved November 8, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4TZMZNDtbI

Osmer, R. The Teaching Ministry of a Missional Congregation (2008). Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTrZkxyjbTU

Osmer, R. N. Cook Everist, M. Krych, and J. Duckworth, Panel on Christian Education: Looking into the Future, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (2008). Retrieved November 8, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edv-EqO4y2o

Osmer, R. Teaching for Faith (1995). Parts 1-3. Retrieved November 8, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I10NvA2ZBgw

 

Reviews of Osmer’s Publications:

Aleshire, D. (1997). Review of the book Confirmation: Presbyterian practices in ecumenical perspective, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 54(2), 275-277.

Berinyuu, A. (2005). Review of the book Religious education between modernization and globalization: new perspectives on the United States and Germany, by R. Osmer and F. Schweitzer. International Journal of Practical Theology 9(1), 163-164.

Bramer, P. (2006). Review of the book The teaching ministry of congregations, by R. Osmer. Christian Education Journal 3(2), 392-397.

Burgess, N. (2009). Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer. Practical Theology 2(3), 407-408.

Cahalan, K. (2009). Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer. Worship 83(4), 371-373.

Caldwell, E. (1993). Review of the book Teaching for faith: a guide for teachers of adult classes, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 50(3), 470-472.

Carter, K. (1991). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Christian Century 108(1), 22-24.

Choi, D. (2009). Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer. Hill Road 12(1), 176-181.

Conrad, R. (1993). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Currents in Theology and Mission 20(2), 135-136.

Cunningham, A. (1991). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Theological Studies 52(2), 366-368.

Cunningham, J. (1993). Review of the book Teaching for faith: a guide for teachers of adults classes, by R. Osmer. Review and Expositor 90(4), 597.

Dallen, J. (1998, March 22). Review of the book Confirmation: Presbyterian practices in ecumenical perspective, by R. Osmer. Journal of Ecumenical Studies.

Espinosa, B. (2015). Review of the book Opening the field of practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 97(2), 331-334.

Espinosa, B. (2013). Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, By R. Osmer. Christian Education Journal 10(1), 208-212.

Foster, C. (2006). Review of the book The teaching ministry of congregations, by R. Osmer. Religious Education, 101(3), 430-433.

Foster, C. (1993). Review of the book Teaching for faith: a guide to teachers of adult classes, by R. Osmer. Princeton Seminary Bulletin 14(3), 293-294.

Gelder, C. (2004, October 1). Review of the book Religious education between modernization and globalization: new perspectives on the United States and Germany, by R. Osmer and F. Schweitzer.  International Bulletin of Missionary Research.

Glassford, D. (2011) Review of the book The Teaching Ministry of Congregations, by R. Osmer, Calvin Theological Journal 46(1), 214-217.

Graham, E. (2011). Review of the book Practical Theology: An Introduction, R. Osmer, SJT Scottish Journal of Theology 64(4), 493-494.

Gros, J. (1992). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Reformed Review 45(3), 249.

Hastings, T. (2006). Review of the book The teaching ministry of congregations, by R. Osmer, Theology Today 63(3), 418-421.

Hess, E. (1997). Review of the book Confirmation: Presbyterian practices in ecumenical perspective, by R. Osmer. Interpretation 51(3), 334.

Hester, D. (1991). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Princeton Seminary Bulletin 12(2), 245-246.

Hunter, R. (2012). Review of the book With Piety and Learning: A History of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 69(3), 344-346.

Kang-Hamilton, S. Review of the book The teaching ministry of congregations, by R. Osmer. Restoration Quarterly 48(1), 57-59.

Kinast, R. (2010, March 1). Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer, Theological Studies 71(1), 240-241.

Maas, R. (1992). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Interpretation 46(1), 71-72.

Mercer, J. (2010). Review of the book Practical Theology: An Introduction, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 67(2), 234-239.

Miller, P. (1996). Review of the book Teaching the Faith, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 53(2), 143-147.

Myers, W. (1993). Review of the book Teaching for faith: a guide to teachers of adult classes, by R. Osmer. Chicago Theological Seminary Register 83(1-2), 64.

Nieman, J. (2009) Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer. Homiletic (online) 34(2).

Parmentier, E. (2010) Review of the book Practical theology: an introduction, by R. Osmer. Revue D’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 90(2), 275-276.

Root, A. (2006). Review of the book The teaching ministry of congregations, by R. Osmer. Word and World 26(4), 453-456.

Rogers, D. (1994). Review of the book Teaching for faith: A guide for teachers of adult classes, by R. Osmer. Encounter 55(1), 94-95.

Rueter, D. (2008). Review of the book Confirmation: Presbyterian pracitces in ecumenical perspective, by R. Osmer. Christian Education Journal 5(2), 458-463.

Skeie, G. (2005). Review of the book Religious education between modernization and globalization: new perspectives on the United States and Germany, by R. Osmer and F. Schweitzer. British Journal of Religious Education 27(2), 189-192.

Slater, N. (1991). Review of the book A teachable spirit recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Theology Today 48(1), 94-98.

Smith, K. (2010). Review of the book Practical Theology: An Introduction, by R. Osmer. Retrieved October 3, 2015, from http://www.sats.edu.za/userfiles/Smith_ReviewOsmer.pdf

Starbucks, S. (1992). Review of the book A teachable spirit recovering the teaching office in the church, by R.Osmer. Koinonia 4(2), 270-273.

Vann, J. (2006). Review of the book The teaching ministry of congregations, by R. Osmer, Interpretation 60(4), 466-468.

Walter, J. (1994). Review of the book Teaching for faith: a guide for teachers of adult classes, by R. Osmer. Southwestern Journal of Theology 37(1), 57-58.

Walton, A. (1994). Review of the book Teaching for faith: a guide for teachers of adult classes, by R. Osmer. The Expository Times 105(4), 125-126.

Williams, D. N. (1991). Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church, by R. Osmer. Encounter 52(1), 103-104.

Wright, D. (2005). Review of the book Religious education between modernization and globalization: new perspectives on the United States and Germany, by R. Osmer and F. Schweitzer. Christian Education Journal 2(1), 166-169.

Wyckoff, D. C. (1991) Review of the book A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office of the church, by R. Osmer. Religious Education 86(1), 161-194.


Excerpts from Publications

Osmer, R. R. (2006) Practical theology: an introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

“What is going on? Why is this going on? What ought to be going on? How might we respond? Answering each of these questions is the focus of one of the four core tasks of practical theological interpretation.” (4)

Osmer, R. R. (2005) The teaching ministry of congregations. Louisville, KY:    Westminster/John Knox.

“We cannot think exclusively in terms of formal education offered in classlike settings. Rather, we also must think in terms of relationships and formational practices that shape people as they participate in a way of life.” (27)

Osmer, R. R. (1992) Teaching for faith: A guide for teachers of adult classes. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox.

“Two things are needed if we are to become good teachers in the church. First, we need a clear idea of what we are trying to accomplish…Second, we need to develop confidence in our ability to use a range of teaching methods.” (14)

Osmer, R. R. (1990) A teachable spirit: recovering the teaching office in the church.     Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox.

[There are] “three tasks that lie at the heart of the teaching office: (1) the determination of the normative beliefs and practices of the church, (2) the reinterpretation of these beliefs and practices in shifting cultural and historical contexts, and (3) the determination of educational institutions, processes, and curricula by which these beliefs and practices are handed down from generation to generation and appropriated in ever deeper ways across the lives of individual Christians.” (46)


To begin an exploration of Richard Osmer’s work I would recommend starting with one of these two books:

Osmer, R. (1992) Teaching for faith: a guide to teachers of adult classes. Louisville, KY:   Westminster/John Knox.

            This short readable book and companion videos will offer teachers of adult classes much guidance in the preparation and presentation of lessons. The chapter on leading discussions is especially useful in small group settings.

Osmer, R. (2008) Practical theology: an introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing     Company.

            This book offers a framework for pastors, educators, and other congregational leaders to understand address situations and issues in their communities of faith. Drawing on the insights of international conceptions of Practical Theology and the Clinical Pastoral Education movement, Osmer offers four tasks that assist the church to reflect and take action, which can lead to transformative change and healing.

 

For those wanting to delve a little deeper and wider into educational ministry, I would also suggest the following:

Osmer, R. (2005) The teaching ministry of congregations. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John         Knox.

            This is Osmer’s most comprehensive and personal book on educational ministry. It explores the writing of Paul in looking for a theological and biblical foundation on which to build a teaching ministry. He explores different frames for approaching this ministry in practices, curriculum, leadership, and pilgrimage.


Author Information

Kathy L. Dawson

Kathy L. Dawson earned her Ph.D. in Practical Theology with an emphasis in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Christian Education and Director of the Master of Arts in Practical Theology degree program at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.