Students in Dr. Peter Held’s Christian Life Formation class recently spent a weekend discussing the Gospel of Mark with author and musician Michael Card.
Dr. Peter Held, standing, speaks to his CLF class as guest professor Michael Card, seated right, listens. The class, Biblical Imagination in the Book of Mark, gathered at a lodge near Gatlinburg for instruction and interaction with Mr. Card as a culmination of their studies this semester.
“In Christian Life Formation classes, we’re trying to give a platform to outside (of the college) voices who have something substantial to communicate,” Director of Spiritual Formation Ben Norquist explained. “Michael has been with us countless times at the college and really resonates with the students.
“This class offered the opportunity to spend concentrated time with him. He stayed in the lodge, ate meals, just lived life with the students that weekend.”
To prepare for the weekend, Dr. Held had students read the Gospel of Mark out loud to a partner, among other things. “During the retreat they spent some time sharing what they had noticed in this reading that they hadn’t noticed before,” Mr. Norquist said.
“Michael is in a four-year project about the Gospels,” Mr. Norquist said. “Last year when he visited Bryan he was in Luke. This year it’s Mark. Next year it will be Matthew. He’s allowing his time in the Gospel to inspire new music. He’s writing a book and releasing a CD about each Gospel.”
The unconventional setting for a class has both academic and spiritual value, Mr. Norquist suggested. “We have a picture of what it means to be academic,” he said. “That usually means old books and the inside of a classroom. But we want to dig into academic material in new ways that expand our picture of what it means to be a student.
CLF classes are highly relational, highly experiential opportunities because we are spiritually formed when we encounter God and others. During the weekend we spent time in worship because worship shapes us too. This is a way of putting the disparate pieces of our lives together, because we want God to shape and instruct all of who we are.”