The nature of the church has been a long-standing interest for Dr. Lois Barrett in her research and writing about house churches, missional ecclesiology, and early Anabaptist religious and cultural history. Before joining the AMBS faculty in 2002, she was a denominational mission executive and pastor of an urban congregation. In online, face-to-face, and hybrid classes, Lois wants to help students to develop competence in doing theology and to understand the importance of history for the present.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
Those of us in the Anabaptist tradition have important perspectives on the Bible, theology, and history that we can learn to articulate and share with others. We want to communicate and model a radical and biblical spirituality in a community committed to following and knowing Christ, so that the watching world can see a preview of the reign of God.
What are some of the other perspectives that influence your teaching?
An important part of doing theology is being able to discern in relation to context and culture. This happens best in a diverse community where the voices of multiple cultures are heard and we can analyze multiple contexts to discern what is of God, what is not of God, and what is indifferent to the will of God in those contexts.
In my home congregation, I am part of a mission group whose focus is immigration. As a result, I am constantly aware of concrete social and political issues and the struggles related to immigrants as I also teach more abstract concepts of theology and epistemology.
In my classes, the opening worship times are designed to relate spirituality to the subject matter of the course. For example, we not only study the Second Great Awakening; we also sing its songs and pray prayers from the movement.
What is important to you about preparing Christian leaders?
Not all of our graduates are going to be ministering in the same kinds of contexts. Even those who are pastors serve in very different kinds of congregations. Therefore, seminary education needs to promote in students the skills and habits to do theology in a variety of contexts. Contexts also keep changing, and we want to know how to be the church wherever we are.
My goal for students
As professor of theology and Anabaptist studies, I want students to learn to think theologically and be able to teach others to do theology in their own contexts.
“Testimony in Anabaptist-Mennonite Theology and Practice” in Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology (Fall 2009)
Praying the Beatitudes of Jesus (Conference of Mennonites in Canada, 1998)
And No One Shall Make Them Afraid (Faith & Life, 1998), editor
“Ursula Jost and Barbara Rebstock of Strasbourg” in Profiles of Anabaptist Women: Sixteenth-Century Reforming Pioneers (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996)
Letters to American Christians (Herald, 1989), co-author;
Building the House Church (Herald, 1986)
The Vision and the Reality (Faith & Life, 1983);
“Jesus and God,” in Jesus Matters: Good News for the 21st Century (Herald, 2009)
“Defining Missional Church,” in Evangelical, Ecumenical, and Anabaptist Missiologies in Conversation (Orbis, 2006)
Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional Faithfulness (Eerdmans, 2004), co-author
Memberships and Associations