Learning to Write a Paper Together
Jul 26, 2019
This Fall, I will be teaching Theological Research and Writing for the third time. I feel like my class has the most intimidating name out of all of the classes. It can sound especially scary for students who have not been in school for a while or who are not comfortable with their writing skills. “Theological Research and Writing,” I imagine these students saying, “I don’t know how to research, and I can barely handle non-theological writing! How can I possibly take that class?”
However, my class isn’t designed for the student who is a savvy researcher or a seasoned writer. It is for that student who, like the student I imagined above, has no idea how to even start a research paper. In my class, we go on the journey of writing a paper together. We take baby steps, working on one piece at a time, until the students have arrived at the end of the semester with papers in hand.
As we go on this journey together, the students will acquire skills they can use in all of their future papers. Among these is what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, how to pick a research topic, what a thesis statement is and why it matters, how to build a bibliography through research, and why Kate Turabian’s book is not as scary as one might think. Students will come out of the class with tools they can use not only in their classes at Stark but also in all of their research and writing endeavors in the future. These endeavors might include further education, writing sermons, teaching Sunday School, or simply diving into biblical studies for their own enrichment.
I am always excited to teach this class because theology, research, and writing are all passions of mine. I believe these skills are essential for every person in ministry. “Theology” comes from the root words “theos,” meaning God, and “logia,” meaning study. I have the honor and responsibility to teach others how to communicate their own studies of God with those around them.
I also get to learn how other people see God through their writing and maybe gain a new understanding of God I hadn’t seen previously. I get to watch students go from being nervous about writing three sentences introducing themselves to handing in six well-reasoned pages of biblical exegesis. I get to play a small part in helping students share their love of God with the world around them, and that’s the most exciting part of all.