A summary of an Increase Association Interest Group at the Asia Theological Association General Assembly in South Korea, July 2016
Overall Objective of this workshop:
To learn from each other about how church-based training and residential institutions can work together to equip all God’s people for mission and ministry.
The ATA mission statement is to serve the Church in equipping the people of God for the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All ATA members join in affirming this mission statement.
Most ATA institutions have the aim of preparing pastors and church leaders for ministry.
Church-based training institutions, including the members of the Increase Association, can provide tools to equip church members and leaders for mission and ministry.
We want to explore together how partnership between church-based training and residential programs can help both to fulfil their aims and serve God’s mission through his church in Asia today.
b. Why is training important for all God’s people?
1. The New Testament has rich and powerful descriptions of the church, and the mission of the church: 1 Peter 2.9, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. The church is the body of Christ, where all members have gifts (1 Corinthians 12).
2. If everyone has a gift, and everyone has a role, so that together, the church can proclaim the mighty acts of God, then each member needs help in developing their gifts, and fulfiling their role.
3. Ephesians 4 speaks of the unity of the Church, the gifts of the Risen Christ - and the role of church leadership in training all God’s people for the work of ministry.
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…
4. So residential institutions aim to train church leadership, and the task of church leadership is to equip the saints; church-based training institutions produce resources to help leadership to equip the saints. There should be a natural synergy between residential institutions and church-based training institutions.
Paul Sanders, former General Secretary of ICETE writes of: The recognition that ‘formal’ and ‘non-formal’, residential and church-based theological education can and should be partners in the 21st century, to serve the whole people of God.
c. An example from Algeria
In 2011, Church leaders from Algeria approached leadership in ICETE about possibilities for theological education. There were around 100,000 first-generation believers, but no seminary. What kinds of training would best serve the growing churches?
This request led to a research project over seven months in 2012. More than one hundred Algerian believers were interviewed.
Key findings were that teaching and training was sporadic, unconnected, poorly designed and lacking clear objectives.
The needs identified were for basic courses and approaches to reach all educational levels, with more advanced, contextually appropriate training programmes for leaders and minsters. Closer cooperation between local churches and training programmes was important if the most suitable people were to be trained as leaders.
The report recommended flexible, church-based training for leaders, so that they would stay connected with ministry in their local churches, remain employed, and stay with their families.
Overall, three connected levels of training were proposed:
d. Examples of Partnership in Asia
The example from Algeria shows how research led to proposals including church-based training. What examples of partnership between church-based training and residential training are available from around Asia at this time?
1. Church-based training is used in preparation for residential training.
The Cape Town Commitment stated clearly the need for a life of discipleship as the foundation for leadership training:
Biblically, only those whose lives already display basic qualities of mature discipleship should be appointed to leadership in the first place.
We long to see greatly intensified efforts in disciple-making, through the long-term work of teaching and nurturing new believers, so that those whom God calls and gives to the Church as leaders are qualified according to biblical criteria of maturity and servanthood.
Church-based training programs can resource the long-term work of teaching and nurturing new believers.
Example: The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Lebanon
On-line church-based training in preparation for residential training
Perry Shaw, Professor of Education at ABTS. Skype conversation, Thursday July 21, 2016:
‘The numbers in our residential program are in decline. We only accept students who are commited to return to their countries after graduation. This is challenging for students from Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
But our online program is exploding. We can take anyone who is a committed leader in a local church into this program, and they will study where they are.
Our online program is equivalent to a one-year Certificate in Theology. The Residential B.Th. is structured as a one year Certificate with two additional years leading to a Bachelor’s qualification.
Our first online cohort is coming to the end of their Certificate program. They want to do the second and third years of the B.Th. residentially.
In this way, ABTS is reaching more students, and is able to test the commitment of future residential students.’
2. Church-based training is used as the major component of a mixed-delivery system
Example: The College of Christian Theology, Bangladesh (CCTB)
CCTB offers a B.Th. program in three stages. The first two stages are delivered through church-based training, with local learning groups throughout Bangladesh. Students prepare for weekly group meetings using carefully prepared self-study materials. These group meetings are led by facilitators who have completed the stage they are leading. The first two stages may take ten or more years to complete. The third stage is taught residentially at the CCTB campus in Dhaka for one year.
3. Courses designed for use in a church-based training program are used in a classroom setting in a residential program to complete the teaching curriculum.
Example: The Open Theological Seminary, Pakistan
Director, Dr. Qaiser Julius, on partnership between OTS and residential institutions in Pakistan, Skype interview 7 July 2016:
On the both sides I think it is very beneficial.
The residential institutions were able to get those OTS courses where they don’t have the present lecturer, or any expertise in the college [to teach that subject.]
They could use those OTS courses with a tutor who does not have specific qualifications in that area. The residential institution does not have to prepare the whole course again, which is quite demanding!
They were able to fill the gap in their curriculum, where they don’t have a tutor or a lecturer in the college, but an OTS course is available.
4. Courses designed for use in a church-based training program are used as part of the fieldwork requirements of a residential program.
Example: Zarephath Bible Seminary, Pakistan
From an e-mail 21 March 2014, from ZBS Principal, Ashkenaz Asif Khan:
We have also tried to let a third year student teach an [OTS] course in the community. It was a great success.
5. Courses designed for use in a church-based training program are used in a classroom setting in small groups in a residential program.
Example a: Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary uses Chinese language courses in partnership with TMCC, TEE Movers for the Chinese Church.
From an e-mail from Dr Mooi San Lim, Associate Dean, July 20, 2016
1. Why have you included the TEE course - The Life of Christ - in your training program?
When I heard about the course on "The life of Christ", I am very interested in it because I would like my students to study Bible courses in Seminary which they can teach in the Church. I joined the class and found it to be very good and helpful. It looked very simple, yet the knowledge is deep. After going through the six books, I have a clear picture of Jesus' life and ministry and more. So, I hope that all my first year students can attend this course as a base for the other Bible and Theology classes.
2. What changes do you observe, if any, in the lives of your students as they take this course?
I do not really know about the changes in their lives after taking this course, because they not only take this course, but many other courses too.
3. Do your students use the TEE course, the Life of Christ, after they have left MBTS?
Yes, many of our students (some are pastors) started classes at their church and some helped other churches to teach their members. We are the first batch in Malaysia to take this course. Now we have many churches starting to teach this course. Many church members feel that this is a very good course. I have started 3 classes at my church and my students shared with me that their church members have experienced change in their life after taking this course. I am very positive about this course.
We have a Teachers' guide book [to help the local learning group facilitator] so that after taking 6 books [as students], they can be a teacher too. So that more and more Christians will study "The life of Christ" in different Churches, and their life will change.
This is a very good course for discipleship too. Thank you!
Blessings, Dr. Lim
In summary, the courses are beneficial for the students, and students are equipped with a tool directly transferable to graduates’ future ministry.
Example b: Zaraphath Bible Seminary (ZBS), Pakistan uses courses from the Open Theological Seminary (OTS), Pakistan
OTS uses the methodology of Theological Education by Extension (TEE)
Ashkenaz Asif Khan, Principal of Zarephath Bible Seminary, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, writes:
Zaraphath Bible Seminary revised its curriculum in 2000 and made TEE part of the three years Diploma and B.Th course. We make sure that students do at least six TEE courses.
There were several reasons:
The courses are well-structured, and the students learn a new method of learning as well as teaching.
The Open Theological Seminary (TEE) is widespread over the country, thus ZBS students must be aware of this new market.
We also arrange for a tutor training workshop for TEE so that ZBS graduates are qualified to teach TEE as soon as they leave ZBS. This makes them better equipped for ministry in the city or town. They are made familiar with the OTS office and staff so that they know already how to contact the OTS office and how to order books etc.
We are doing what is best for our students and what helps the Kingdom cause.
OTS gets its student number increased and ZBS places the graduates as cutting edge workers all over the country offering viable teaching tools. This is a win-win partnership for the Glory of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Example c: A Central Asian Seminary uses courses from a church-based training program in Central Asia using the methodology of Theological Education by Extension.
The academic director of [a Central Asian] Seminary writes:
I am also pastor of a church. When I started using SEAN materials in our church I saw good results. I saw how people change and grow when they discover Bible truths and begin to apply them in their life.
And the Lord gave me the idea to include basic courses (Abundant Life and Abundant Light) and 6 books of Life of Christ in the Seminary curriculum.
Our students study systematic theology and acquire a lot of knowledge which I believe helps them grow and prepare them for ministry. But they also need some practical tools which they can take and use right away they graduate from the Seminary and begin as full time ministers in their churches. Some of them will become church planters. And again they will need a good tool, useful and simple at the same time.
It has been 4 years since we started using SEAN materials in the Seminary. Our students have given a good feedback. And I am happy that we not only give them knowledge but also equip them for the practical ministry.
A student in the same Seminary writes:
I took SEAN courses in the Seminary as they are part of our curriculum.
During group discussions some topics helped me to re – examine some areas of my personal life. I realized how it is important to ask constantly myself: “Do I obey God’s Word in this area of my life?” So it urges me to dig deeper in the Word.
As a student I really liked the method of teaching. First, it is easy handled. Repetitions of key ideas help to remember the material well. And as soon as I remember a Bible verse, I know how it is related to some practical side. And what is important I learned to explain these things to others in simple language.
I also learned some leadership skills. I learned how to ask good questions and motivate a person to be opened (and feel comfortable with it). I am learning to “see behind” or in other words to understand other people’s worries and pains. And I am learning how to direct the group being part of it, not the “head”.
This is my experience. I thank the Lord for all the people involved in this work. And I pray that the Lord uses me as His instrument to bring people to Him.
6. Faculty from residential programs partner with church-based training program staff to write new courses for the church-based training program, and in curriculum development.
This kind of partnership has led to many new courses in TEE programs across Asia.
7. Residential programs use church-based training program for their alumni to help them continue to grow in their ministry.
This is a possibility, but we are not aware of alumni associations doing this. However, there are examples of individual graduates of diploma level institutions who have transferred their credits to the church-based training program and continued to B.Th degree.
8. A residential program uses existing courses from a church-based training program as a springboard to develop online courses because of similar educational methodology.
As residential schools shift to online learning they may draw on the principles and approaches of church-based training. For example, the Teach-Learn project in the Arab world adopted and adapted church-based training courses developed by the Program for Theological Education by Extension, PTEE, for use in their online program.
In the light of the need for training and equipping the whole people of God, and the key role of church leadership in this training, there are strong reasons for partnership between organisations training leaders, and organizations running programs to help in the task of equipping the whole people of God.
If you have any thoughts or experience of this kind of partnership, please contact us.
Graham Aylett and Tim Green, The Increase Association.