We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Teresa Welch, professor of Christian education and ministry, Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri.
My list will unfortunately leave out many who influence me through their pursuit of knowing and following God every single day. However, in an effort to be comprehensive, I have selected a mentor, a colleague, and an author.
My mentor, Eleanor Daniel, retired academic dean and professor of Christian education, has influenced so many of us through her writing, curriculum, and the hundreds of ministry leaders she taught over the last five decades. She encourages us not to settle for the status quo in our church education ministries. Though the programs and labels may change, the principles, standards, and quality advocated for and practiced by Dr. Daniel are timeless.
Dr. Miriam Perkins, professor of theology and society at Emmanuel Christian Seminary, is both my colleague and good friend. Her perspective on the incarnation of Christ helps us to better define what it means to be human, and the responsibility we have to ourselves and one another as we discover what it means to be created in the image of God.
My first encounter with Ivy Beckwith, children’s minister and author, was a brief meeting at a conference a few years ago, but her influence continues through her books and articles. Though I may not agree with all of her assertions, Dr. Beckwith provides a thoughtful response to current children’s ministry methods as she calls us to reconsider the ways we engage children in learning Scripture and their place within the Christian community.