The Temple and the Church’s Mission

      This course is designed to shape the student’s theological imagination in ways that inspire and energize ministry in and with the wider community.  Often churches find themselves primarily ministering only to their own members. Yet, Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)  In this class, disciples are invited to catch a vision about how Jesus was sent, so they might then discern how he may be sending them into their communities. The class focuses on the Gospel of John where Jesus is sent to the world as the visible glory that once tabernacled in Israel (John 1:14). Jesus, as the renewed temple, bestows this temple glory on his followers (John 17:22) so they can embody the temple’s patterns of missional faithfulness with and for the world.


Longer Course Description

      This class grounds attempts to inspire and sustain community ministry through an introduction to temple theology.  Particularly in the Gospel of John, the class attempts to recover a view of Jesus as the one who restores the temple and its glory to Israel.  John construes the incarnation, ministry, death, and the lifting up of Jesus within the larger story of the temple’s ongoing re-creation of the world. In bestowing his glory upon the church, Jesus sends the church into all the world, as the Father had sent him, as a renewed temple and a mysterious agent of ongoing creation. Jesus is sent from heaven, like the tabernacle and temple—to be the place where heaven and earth, God and humans are united.  He renews the temple’s ministry as the light of the world, the source of living water–the true healing vine. As the renewed temple he continues to constrain, command, and bestride the Sea.  He is the temple treasury of abundant life, drawing all nations into himself.  He is the protective gate or transcendent hiding place in which there are many rooms.  Thus, the temple’s iconic creational and ministerial functions, architecturally expressed on Zion and embodied in Jesus Christ, act as spiritual and imaginative sources for the church’s own practices of community renewal.

      Students will prepare workbook assignments in preparation for class sessions.  Those assignments give special attention to discovering how temple imagery resounds deep themes and memories which may awaken a sense of a student’s passion, play and potential. Community ministry, thus, is not just grounded theologically in the Gihon wellspring which flows out of the temple (Genesis 2:13, 2 Chronicles 32:30, Ezekiel 47:1) but also in a willingness to explore that wellspring within us (John 7:38).

     Class sessions will be devoted to evaluating examples of ministries that engage the wider community. Students will be asked to evaluate how much energy particular forms of community ministry ignite in them.  Class conversation about the ways different churches and ministries have engaged the wider community can also help stir the missional imagination for a student’s unique setting. 

    Students taking the class for credit will be evaluated on class participation and on a final 2-5 page paper in which they will reflect upon what it is they have learned about themselves, scripture, Jesus, and their calling to minister in and with the world. 
The instructor, Kent Ellett, lives in Indiana, is a minister of the gospel, and has a Doctor of Ministry from Abilene Christian University.