Fourteen Lessons I Didn't Learn Through Lecture at Wheaton College Graduate School

Quick, think of some of the most life-changing things you learned during your time at school. I'll give you a few moments to do it...a little bit more time...done?

I am willing to bet that for most of you, those moments didn't come during a classroom lecture, but through some other kind of experience like reading a particular book, completing a group project, giving a presentation, visiting a local museum, or from the character of your teacher. My experience at Wheaton College's Graduate School earning my Christian Formation and Ministry degree has been no less different.

I like to think that I received three different educations at Wheaton: in the classroom, through discussions with my fellow students, and in meetings with professors. Coming to Wheaton College, I made the purposeful choice to go out of my way to meet with professors during their office hours and schedule meetings with other professors I wasn't able to take classes with, but wanted to learn from. One of the benefits of attending school in the Chicago area is that we are surrounded by great institutions like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Northern Seminary as well as famous churches like Willow Creek Community Church, Moody Bible Church, and St. Sabina. As much as I could, I tried meeting with members of their faculty that interested me as well. Additionally, Wheaton College invites some of the best Christian speakers and thinkers to campus and I tried to make it out to as many guest lectures as I could.

John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, Ross Douthat, Bill Hybels

Below are some of the many lessons I learned outside of classroom lectures. They comprise some of my most cherished experiences, ones that could never have taken place by just listening to a teacher tell me what I should know. I hope that they encourage you to seek out educational experiences no matter who or where you are in life; you don't have to be in a classroom to learn and grow!

One of my most cherished lessons was ...

…from Dr. Richard Schultz (professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College) who taught me that extensive and intensive exegetical research doesn't have to be too complicated for the average Christian; he also spurred my interest in using comic strips to illustrate profound truths.

…from Dr. Doug Moo (professor of New Testament at Wheaton College) who reminded me that the Bible is not just an end in itself, but also a means of transformation (Rom. 12:1-2).

…from Dr. Scottie May (professor of 'Personal Spiritual Formation' at Wheaton College) who reminded me that without an authentic personal spiritual walk, we will become useless to those we serve.

…from Dr. Daniel Block (professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College) who taught me that any version of Christianity that uses the Old Testament just as history, illustrations, and prophecies is an impoverished Christianity.

…from Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer (professor of Christian Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) who taught me that the Christian life is less an obvious application of scriptural truth and more like dramatic improv with the scriptures as the script and the Holy Spirit as the director.

Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer

…from Dan Haase (professor of 'Teaching for Transformation' at Wheaton College) that teaching and learning is a holistic experience that more closely resembles a mystery that we serve into than a mechanical process we master.

…from Dr. David Sveen (professor of 'Human Development' at Wheaton College) who taught me that one on one meetings between professors and students can be just as powerful and influential as any class period.

…from Dr. John Walton (professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College) who taught me real epistemological humility through his handling and teaching of Genesis 1-2.

…from Dr. Scot McKnight (professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary) who taught me that the Gospel is far richer and more expansive than I have ever dreamed.

…from Rev. Michael Pfleger of the Faith Community of St. Sabina who taught me that a local church must actively and lovingly address the sins and weaknesses of its local neighborhood or it’s not doing its job.

Father Michael Pfleger

…from Graduate Chaplain Clayton Keenon who taught me that any Bible study that doesn't actively include the community of Christ is not just diminished, it is incomplete.

…from Langdon Gilkey (author of Shantung Compound) who taught me the vital role that faith plays in the life of every individual, family, and community.

...from Dr. David Setran (professor of 'History and Philosophy of Ministry' at Wheaton College) that a class period can be seriously academic and rigorous while also being spiritually enriching and practically applicable.

…from Lois Lebar, Jane Vella, and the entire Christian Formation and Ministry department who taught me that a Christian educator has a vital, noble, and irreplaceable role within the Church.

A conference lunch with members of the Wheaton faculty

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!


  1. Um, I'm pretty sure that you learned about the importance of comic strips from Schultz's LECTURES. Just saying. But all in all, great list. I will have to do one of these once I'm done. Though you're much better at meeting one-on-one than I am.

  2. You're technically right Evan about the comic strips, which is why I made it more of an additional lesson from Schultz than the main one. However, I would argue that the spirit of my premise, though perhaps not the letter, is that these are lessons I didn't learn through lecture. Although he used the comic strips during a lecture, they are by nature different than the actual lecture.
    I'd be interested to read your future list! Hope you are having a great Christmas!


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