Interested Stares and Plenty of Questions

Guest House“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but…holy cow.”

And that just about sums up my experience with the first week of my DMiss program. As an example, for the next month or so I’ll be working on my research design proposal, a 20ish page document that articulates my idea of how I’ll use these next four years.

And then the fun begins. Between now and October, I’ll need to critically engage around 90 different sources (books, journals and articles) related to my central research issue.

So, if you need me, I’ll be buried in a book.

But the other thing about this first week is that I got to meet my cohort mates. I’ll be accompanied on this four year odyssey by 8 other souls, each of us engaging different topics within the field of missiology. Honestly, this feels like one of the best features of the program, because I’ll benefit not only from others’ perspectives on my topic, but I’ll get to understand 8 other ways that God is at work in the world. So this week I’ve been thinking about, among other things, internet evangelism with Chinese youth, business as mission models in Liberia and Christian community development in racially fractured Benton Harbor, MI.

This is gonna be fun.

As a part of getting to know my cohort, I got to share about my proposed research topic. Here’s what happened:

Me: “And so, with all of this as background, I am planning a research project entitled ‘”Women and Men Flourishing in Mission: Models of Healthy Gender Equal Ministry Partnerships.'”

Them: (interested stares, and several “Hmms”)

Me: “In closing, do you have any questions for me?”

And then it erupted. Lots of really great questions. Like about how I came to be concerned about a topic like this. And about how my context of InterVarsity will fit in with my study. And about what I anticipate as roadblocks to my research. And more.

My experience with my team fits the general experience I have when I share about what I’m doing in this program:

Interested stares and plenty of questions.

Come to think of it, it’s not unlike the reaction I get when I tell people about this blog. Interested stares and plenty of questions.

And here’s the thing:

I love this reaction. 

Because, if it’s authentic (and it usually is), it indicates a curiosity that I think God can and will use. For most people I connect with, this is a completely new topic. Few people in the church are really talking about this stuff. As a result, I am finding that people really want to know how to think about gender issues within the framework of their faith.

So I say keep it coming. I’ll keep reading and writing.

And you keep staring and then asking your questions.

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