In a seven-session course taught at various churches in the Sacramento region, Western Seminary faculty member at our Sacramento campus, Dr. David Nystrom, developed an engaging class entitled: Thinking with Jesus and Paul. 

This course was designed to help discern the ministry aims and methods of Jesus and Paul. What were their aims? How were these aims formed? By what means did they seek to accomplish them? The first portion of the course was devoted to studying the New Testament (NT) with the goal of coming to understand how Jesus and Paul thought, first about the nature of how we are to “put on Christ,” and then about theology and human society. The second portion of the course was devoted to the practical matter of how we ought to think about, live into, and execute such an approach in our own lives and ministry. 

As the great Oxford NT scholar G.B. Caird observed, discipleship is about learning from Jesus’ patterns of thought, patterns of heart, and thus patterns of action. He artfully captured Jesus’ understanding of the need to be transformed from thorn bushes to fig trees. As fig trees, after all, actually bear fruit! The aim of this course was to think deeply about transformation, spiritual growth, ethical decision making, and real-world ministry decisions in such a way that we can live more nearly into the image and model of Jesus and his great follower, the Apostle Paul. 

The class met seven times at five different church locations throughout the greater Sacramento area.  The idea was to bring theology to the Church through partnership. Dr. Nystrom notes, “It was exciting to see more than 40 non-seminary folks from these churches attending at least one session!” 

The objectives of this course were to help participants: 

  1. Integrate NT theology into today’s ministry context 

2. Practice thinking theologically, instead of merely studying theology 

3. Learn to think critically and with care about contemporary culture in order to faithfully represent the gospel in today’s world 

4. Give further depth of insight and training to those within churches who so desire it 

5. Strategically position churches within the Sacramento region to reach different demographics where individuals may not have the resources to take a seminary course

It is creative courses like these that help highlight our intention of combining rigorous education with practical application. If you missed out on attending one of these classes with Dr. Nystrom and are interested in learning more, visit Dr. Nystrom’s webpage today.  

Dr. David Nystrom has been part of the Western family as a full time faculty member since 2016. We are grateful to have him and his unique skill set here.