The name of the class is a bit deceptive: Education for Ministry makes it sound like we are heading toward ordination. That is NOT the purpose of EFM.
EFM is a program offered through the divinity school at the University of the South (called Sewanee). The purpose is to educate people to carry out their own ministries in the world, providing biblical and theological education. During the four-year program, we read the Bible, church history, and material about "big questions."
But the most important part of EFM is the opportunity to be in a covenant group with my classmates and to do theological reflection with them. Part of every seminar discussion covers the reading we have done to prepare, and part is a theological reflection on something...anything. The point is that theological reflection encourages us to think about the world, the culture, the church, and everything else in our lives through the lens of TR and to ask, "what can I learn from this? how can I grow closer to what Jesus would have me do?" It seeps into your daily life as well. It's transformative.
I've longed for this type of connection for a long time. Short-term Sunday school classes have been good, but people come and go. This class requires a substantial commitment of time and finances, and therefore a level of trust builds. We are learning to know each other in a way that is unusual in today's world. We share hard questions and large truths, things we might not talk about with others in our lives. We wonder. We express doubt and anger. We laugh a lot, and have snacks. It is holy ground.
I realized last night that, doing our lesson and TR, I felt fully myself. That's a big statement, but it's true. I am grateful.