Integrative Seminars

The Charlotte campus meets twice a year for integrative seminars to integrate the practice of community-based, theological and vocational reflection on core aspects of our seminary mission to promote life-long learning and competency in Christian thought and ministry.

All seminars available on this site are free to enjoy by the public! 

Makeup Assignments for Gordon-Conwell Students

  1. View or listen to the recording.
  2. Write a four page reflection-interaction paper (double spaced).
  3. Submit the paper with a $25 make up fee check to Deana Nail (made out to GCTS). 
    Address: GCTS-Charlotte, 14542 Choate Circle, Charlotte, NC 28273
  • Registration is not required for seminar makeups. 
  • For assistance please contact Deana Nail at 704.940.5810 or [email protected].

Listening from iTunes U   

  • Integrative Seminar audio can be accessed from the seminary’s iTunes U page for playback from your computer or mobile Apple device. 
  • Visit here to download the latest version of iTunes or download the iTunes U App from the App Store. Within the app search for ‘integrative seminar’. 

Seminar Descriptions

  • Seminar information including class number, title, and decription are available below. Click the + to learn more about a particular seminar.  

 The Winter 2017 Integrative Seminar, Where Do We Stand? The Challenges of Embodying Biblical Truth in a Postmodern World (IS501), will seek to explore the following questions as the goal of the day:

  1. How does the Bible speak authoritatively to today’s declining denominational and cultural contexts?
  2. How does standing on the authority of the Bible impact ministry and service to the church and community?
  3. How can Christians be effectively equipped to live under the authority of Scripture, fully embodying the Gospel in everyday life?

The Fall 2016 Integrative Seminar, Diaspora: Exploring the Church’s Role in a Migratory World (IS506), will focus on how church leadership can motivate and mobilize people and resources to become more effective in assessing and engaging the needs of dispersed people living next door, and around the world. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, we will be assessing the impact of the diaspora phenomenon on society and exploring ways to become more engaged in ministry to, through, and beyond dispersed peoples.

The Integrative Seminar will seek to explore the following questions as the goal of the day:

  1. In what ways do the Bible and the previous history of God’s people provide normative guidance and prevailing wisdom on ministering to people living in diaspora?
  2. What are the challenges and struggles of dispersed people living in our midst?
  3. What keeps churches from ministering to people living in diaspora in our communities? What challenges and barriers do churches face in their desire to minister to these communities?
  4. What practical insights and wisdom can provide balanced guidance to foster effective ministry by churches to people living in diaspora in their community?

The recent visit of Pope Francis to the US, the emerging environment of racial unrest in various US communities, the growing levels of poverty in America, sexual trafficking plus numerous other social challenges highlight relevant social issues and the opportunity for the evangelical church to be an active agent of change and healing in our society. Biblically the Church is called to be salt and light, preserving cultural life and promoting human flourishing from the perspective of God’s shalom. Throughout Church history, Christ’s body has demonstrated the capacity for significant engagement in ministry to its social and cultural contexts. Historically, the early church demonstrated incredible mercy by staying in infected cities and caring for victims of plague. Revivals and awakenings in England and North America provided the impetus for a compassionate evangelicalism that effectively dealt with prevailing social ills such as slavery, endemic poverty and child labor abuse. In the contemporary era, the Body of Christ provided a major impetus behind the Civil Rights movement in the US.

Is the evangelical church in America today leaving society lightly salted? The sober reality is that many churches in America tend to be unengaged in ministry to their local communities, typically passive in providing a vital expression of compassion and justice. When there is a desire to be engaged, these efforts often are short-lived and ineffective. What can be done to get more salt out of the shaker?

The spring 2016 Integrative Seminar, Lightly Salted: Mobilizing Churches as Agents of Compassion and Justice (IS505), will focus on how church leadership can motivate and mobilize people and resources to become more effective in assessing and engaging the social needs of each congregation’s task environment. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, we will be assessing the local church’s influence on society and exploring ways to become more saline agents of compassion and justice.

The Integrative Seminar will seek to explore the following questions as the goal of the day:

  1. In what ways does the Bible and previous history of God’s people provide normative guidance and prevailing wisdom on being agents of compassion and justice in our communities?
  2. What keeps churches from being more effective as salt? What challenges and barriers do churches face in their desire to minister holistically to their communities?
  3. What practical insights and wisdom can provide balanced guidance to foster effective community ministry by churches?

Traditionally, ancient philosophy and Christian theology have identified three aspects or qualities of being called the transcendentals: Truth, Virtue, and Beauty. These, in sum, reflect the idea of divine perfection and the goal of human aspiration and development.  Since the work of Rene Descartes and the rise of Enlightenment rationalism, the focus on the intellect has put a premium on Truth and Virtue with a loss of appreciation for the place that Beauty (aesthetics) plays in human life and flourishing.  Protestant Christianity, over the last four centuries, has mirrored the cultural shift towards rationalism in Europe and North America. Coupled with a Reformation reaction to images and idols, the rise of rationalism has shaped Christian belief and practice.

As a result, modern Evangelical faith has strongly emphasized the cultivation of right thinking (beliefs) and proper actions (ethics) as the primary goal of Christian education and formation. This focus has resulted in a potentially lop-sided view of formation by neglecting the role Beauty plays in Christian life and worship. As a result, churches are better at producing “holy” heads rather than hearts captivated with an aesthetic yearning for the beauty of God.  Can the proper cultivation of the aesthetic promote more vital faith? As Francis Schaeffer put it, No work of art is more important than a Christian’s own life, and every Christian is called upon to be an artist in this sense.

In light of this apparent need in the contemporary church, the following questions will guide the fall 2015 Integrative Seminar.

  • What role should aesthetics play in the formative life of the church?
  • How can a proper use of art foster holistic development of believers and churches?
  • What are proper guidelines for the use and appreciation of art within Christian formation?

To interact with these questions, an inter-disciplinary perspective will be used that integrates biblical, theological, liturgical, personal, and educational perspectives.

The spring 2015 Integrative Seminar, Bouncing Back: Exploring Vocational Resiliency in the Crucible of Ministry, will approach this critical topic from an inter-disciplinary perspective. Using a practical theological framework developed by Dr. Richard Osmer (2002) that investigates the descriptive, interpretive, normative, and pragmatic dimensions, the following questions will guide this inquiry. 

This fall’s Integrative Seminar (IS501), The Subversive Word: Social Innovation and Readings of Scripture, explores from a multi-disciplinary and integrative approach the challenges of hearing the voice of the Spirit through the Bible in times of political and social change when conflicting readings of the Word may emerge. Are the new readings a sign of the Spirit’s call to the Church requiring acceptance and obedience? Or are they errant readings, prompting the church to deviate from God’s will and purpose?

Confronted by these emerging realities, what must be done to fully re-engage the American church? The spring 2014 Integrative Seminar IS506, Becoming Glocal: Re-aligning the Local Church with the Global Missionary Mandate explores the local church’s present relation to the world Christian movement.  The intent is to provide students with more accurate perceptions of global realities and current church practices.  Fresh, grounded awareness will provide wisdom to evaluate our churches’ current engagement, with the goal to align us better with what God is doing in the world.

The fall 2013 Integrative Seminar, Rich Church, Poor Church: Exploring Affluence and Poverty within the American Christian Community, will address this issue through a multi-disciplinary exercise in practical theology.  Practical theology is critical theological reflection on the practices of the Church as they interact with the practices of the world with a view to ensure faithful participation in the continuing mission of the Triune God (Swinton and Mowat, Practical Theology and Qualitative Research, p. 25). Our seminar will engage a four-step model of investigation and conversation suggested by Richard Osmer (Practical Theology: An Introduction) involving Descriptive, Interpretive, Normative and Pragmatic dimensions.

The following questions will guide our time of learning:

  • What is a biblical view of poverty and wealth? How does the Bible address these conditions among God’s people? (Normative)
  • How can affluent Christians better understand the world of the poor? (Interpretive)
  • What is the present experience of economic koinonia in the Christian community? What obstacles and challenges exist? (Descriptive)
  • How can churches better meet the financial needs of their own congregational members and other churches?(Pragmatic)

The 2012 Fall Integrative Seminar explores the use of online modali-ties as the basis for Christian spiritual formation. The following ques-tions will guide this inquiry:

  • What are the primary goals of Christian spiritual formation and how can online methods promote  these goals?
  • What are the theological issues underlying online Christian spiri-tual formation?
  • What can be learned by reflective engagement in various online forms of Christian spiritual formation?
  • What are the benefits and advantages of online Christian spiritual formation?
  • What are the limits and dangers inherent in online Christian spiritual formation?
IS503 Spring 2012 – Greening Up or Burning Out

Pastors, teachers, and counselors face increasing complexities and pressures in contemporary helping ministries. The ongoing stress of such personally demanding vocations can deplete the minister emotionally and spiritually. Emotional exhaustion, depersonalization of the recipient of care, and diminished sense of the value of one’s ministry are warning signs of potential vocational burnout, resulting in the silent anguish of the healer.  The Spring 2012 Integrative Seminar will focus on the Christian helper’s vulnerability to burnout and the potential for vocational renewal. The following questions will guide our reflections on this theme:

  • How prone are Christian ministers to burnout?
  • Are there viable ways to avoid burnout in ministry?
  • What are the marks of people who maintain resiliency in ministry?
  • What paths are there for personal and vocational renewal that can facilitate renewed energy and commitment to ministry?
IS501 Fall 2011 – The Transforming Word

Throughout the history of the Church, the Bible has been central to its spiritual vitality. Traditionally, reading, listening to, and meditating on the Bible has been the main means of scriptural formation. Today we live in a frenetic age in which the pace of life and the ubiquity of digital technology have provided new and innovative approaches to biblical engagement.  Each day, thousands of Americans read the Bible on their cell phones, get email devotional readings, and even some access the Word through tweets!  In light of these new societal and technological factors, how does the Bible meaningfully change our lives? Conversely, how does our “wired” way of life influence our reading, understanding and response to the Bible?

The Fall 2011 Integrative Seminar will address key questions related to this theme:

  • What are Bible reading practices of contemporary Christians in an electronic age?
  • How does our mode of Bible engagement influence the reception of the Scripture and the process of faith formation?
  • How can reading the Bible most effectively change our lives?
IS506 Spring 2011 – Conversing with Lausanne

The heart of Christianity has shifted to the global south over the last few decades with unprecedented church growth in Africa, South America, and the Far East. The Christian faith is no longer predominantly a reflection of Euro-centric values and perspectives. The emerging church has a powerful voice that needs to be heard in the world-wide context of faith and mission.

The recent event, Cape Town 2010 held on October 16 -25, 2010 in South Africa was the third global international conference on world evangelization held in the last 40 years (Lausanne, 1974, Manila, 1989) drawing over 4,200 participants representing over 200 countries. This epic event provided a platform for all the members of the world Christian movement to converse and reflect on the most pressing issues of faith and mission facing the Body of Christ in our generation.

The Spring 2011 Integrative Seminar, Conversing with Lausanne: Reflections on the Christian Movement from a Global Perspective, invites you to join in this vibrant discussion on the nature and execution of the Great Commission in light of the complex and challenging political, social, economic, and cultural factors shaping our mission to the contemporary world.

IS505 Fall 2010 – Maintenance or Mission

The 21st century has set the stage for a paradigm shift that has dramatically changed the way the Church views itself. The era of the Christian West has passed, ushering in a society that values connectedness, ambiguity, and above all tolerance. Many churches have viewed this as a call to “circle the wagons” and more closely guard their own traditions and beliefs, while other fellowships have marked this shift as a new opportunity to understand and connect with the world in ways they never have before. The question then becomes, how should we as Christians view this new era in which we live — and how can we remain culturally relevant while still retaining the essentials of our faith?

The fall 2010 Integrative Seminar will seek to explore these questions through the lenses of church history in terms of St. Patrick and the Celtic Missionary Impulse. The goal of this event is to reflect on potential strategies for a new post-Christian mission in North America, and to spur our missional imaginations so that we can better extend the gospel in a changing culture.
IS504 Fall 2009 – Seminary or Cemetery


Although students and faculty continually discuss and reflect upon topics of biblical, theological, and spiritual importance, the pursuit of theological education can be hazardous to one’s relationship with God. Overexposure to sacred stories and symbols can create spiritual “dead zones” in some people’s lives where vital communications with the Lord drops off to nothing. Constant analyses of Scriptures for exegetical assignments often leave scant fragments of the Bread of Life to feed the souls of the learner. In addition, a life of extreme busyness can almost eliminate the quietness, patience, and attentiveness essential to cultivating a life in the Spirit of Jesus.

This fall’s integrative seminar will explore how students perceive the influence of seminary education on their sense of spiritual vitality. The basic source of data will be a simple online survey. The results of this study will provide the basis for a forum of discussion regarding the states of our souls as ministers and leaders- in- preparation.
Audio Recordings:
IS503 Spring 2009 – How High Are Your Fences

According to Dr. Henry cloud, boundaries are the limits of your personal identity that define where you end and someone else’s life begins.  Like a property line they indicate what you own and when you are entering into someone else’s domain. Boundaries, like fences, may be too weak and invite trespassing or they may be too strong and keep out even those you need in your life.

People in ministry and the helping professions need to have very clear understanding of boundaries, their own and those they serve. Healthy fences promote respect and integrity while dysfunctional boundaries can invite abuse or isolation. How high are your fences? The spring 2009 Integrative Seminar explores the concepts of personal and professional boundaries with the hope you will gain a clearer understanding of what defines you as a minister and a child of God.

IS501 Fall 2008 – Sweet and Sharp

The GCTS mission statement begins with a strong commitment to the Bible as God’s inspired written revelation and our need to rightly divide it. Too often we stop at admiration of the Bible without adequate appropriation of it for the work of building up the church and its members. The Seminary may provide excellent preparation to master the Word through academic excellence but fail to equip students as faithful stewards of the Word’s dynamic power. In order to broader our awareness of the Scripture’s vitality and potency, the Fall 2008 Integrative Seminar will focus on practical and applied uses of the Bible in various ministerial contexts and situations. The goal is to help us explore and struggle with issues arising from the dynamic nature of Scripture and how it can be used appropriately to bring spiritual health and vitality in believers and churches.

IS506 Spring 2008 – The Church in the Global Community

The global mission of Christ is to bring the gospel to all people groups. This requires the ability to translate the biblical message and its implications across a multitude of cultural and ideological contexts in a manner that faithfully maintains the authentic core of biblical truth yet communicating and embodying it relevantly within specific cultural groups. This is the process of contextualization.

The challenges of contextualization are significant and require critical theological reflection and sensitivity; skills which are valuable for all Christian ministers. The Spring 2008 Integrative Seminar invites students to wrestle with the issues of contextualization through a significant case study issue regarding planting an indigenous community of faith in a Muslim context.

IS504 Fall 2007 – Revive Us Again

Since the church should always be in a process of “constantly reforming” the Christian community needs to reflect intentionally and prayerfully about the process of renewal. The focus of the Fall 2007 Integrative Seminar is on an inter-disciplinary inquiry on revival and renewal from biblical, theological, practical, and historical perspectives with the following focal questions:

  1. What is revival?
  2. What are the precursors of revival?
  3. What are the marks of genuine revival?
  4. What has God done in past revivals?
  5. What does revival accomplish in history and in the church?
  6. What does God want for Gordon- Conwell?
IS505 Spring 2007 –  Ministry to Broken Bodies

Often the church is blinded to its attitudes and actions towards specific people and groups within the congregation. As a result, individuals can be hurt by feeling alienated from the vital life of the Body of Christ. On e particular group that often experiences alienation is people with physical handicaps. The Spring 2007 Integrative Seminar seeks to explore the dynamics of alienation and affirmation with a focus upon people with physical disabilities. This inquiry will examine both the subjective experiences of the disabled and other members of the church community.

IS503 Fall 2006 – Money Matters

The Bible makes it clear in both Testaments that those who serve God vocationally should be financially compensated for their labors.  It is right to be paid for ministry. Yet little is said regarding the form and amount of such support. How much does money matter? In our complex world of retirement plans, rising health costs, and changing tax laws, how ministry is paid can have a direct influence upon clergy motivation and effectiveness. Yet many congregations find it difficult to evaluate ministerial practice in light of compensation or even talk about it, This often leads to frustration and misunderstandings. The Fall 2006  Integrative Seminar explores the trends in ministerial compensation and presents guidelines to help provide perspective on this critical but often difficult issue in the life of the church.

IS501 Spring 2006 – Not the Way It’s Suppose to Be

Christians do sin and it should not be astonishing that we repeatedly hear stories of the moral collapses and unethical behaviors of Christians. What can be more surprising and devastating to novice ministers or leaders is when they experience evil and sin as a reality within the life and dynamics of their congregations or ministries. Such encounters can be painful and ultimately lead to ongoing disillusionment or a watchful pessimism about leading God’s flock. Whoever said that sheep don’t bite!

The theme of the Spring 2006 Integrative Seminar focuses on the reality of sin and evil in the congregation and the dynamics of their operation. The primary goal is to help Christian leaders develop understanding and discernment of sin’s impact in order to become more effective and enduring leaders in a fallen world. Few theories of leadership and ministry deal with the consequences of a radical theology of sin within organizational life (most are humanistic or rational in orientation), yet our fallen-ness, manifested in a surprising array of attitudes and behaviors, lies at the heart of most congregational dysfunctions. 

IS505 Fall 2005 – The Sexually Healthy Congregation

For the average church, human sexuality has been often been viewed warily as a source of trouble and temptation. In spite of the poignant problems associated with sexuality, God meant it to be a significant source of blessing and human connection. This Integrative Seminar explores in an appreciative mode the question of how congregations can function to help form Christian believers into healthy sexual beings.

IS505 Spring 2005 – The Church of Many Colors

The world is changing before us in a dizzying pace. The recent catastrophe generated by the Indonesian tsunami reveals that the world is quickly becoming a global community. No one can stay isolated to its needs. The towns and cities of America are rapidly becoming mirrors of our world, reflecting its cultural diversity and need for interconnectivity—a mosaic and no longer a melting pot. This Integrative Seminar will explore the Church’s calling to diversity, not simply as a response to changing demographics, but in heart-felt obedience to the call of God to be a people conforming to His eternal plan for the Body of Christ. Participants in today’s events come as disciples and scholars seeking to learn together and from each other what it means to minister in a church of many colors and cultures.

IS504 Fall 2004 – Building Community

How important is community to the effective ministry of the Church? Can community be used as a strategy to promote ministry in contexts outside of the Church? These and other challenging issues will be the center of the Fall 2004 Integrative Seminar, Building Community: Establishing a Base Camp for Ministry. The focus is on an intriguing case study presented by Jan Mullis and Steve Shores of Integrity Enterprises.  The case centers on an ongoing effort to use community building as a means for organizational development in a manufacturing company.