Mission Training File
Global Consultation Commencing; Training Alliance Catalyzing; ACCESS Conference Coming; WCF Finishes
Global Consultation Commencing
Over 250 Presidents and Academic Deans (PAD) of theological institutions representing 53 nations gathered for three days to consider how they can be vitally involved in seeing a “church for every people and the Gospel for every person.”
What appeared to be an event is apparently becoming an ongoing network. And that’s a hopeful sign.
PAD was 1 of 10 tracks within the GCOWE ‘97 meeting, representing the first time that this kind of group has assembled in the history of such global consultations. Highlights:
Declaration. Delegates formulated a declaration that could revolutionize some institutions if they took the declarations seriously (see next page).
Influence. An oft-quoted phrase of the track, “as goes PAD, so goes the church,” sparked discussions about the kind of influence theological schools have on the global Christian movement.
Some people, especially those outside the track, interpreted this as a sign of self-aggrandizement. For them, it was confirmation that “knowledge puffeth up.”
Others discussed the causal role between faculty and students: the ability to stir or dissipate passion for world mission.
There was also the recognition that there are thriving church movements that don’t depend on traditional theological institutions.
The Southern Baptist International Mission Board reports that 75% of people involved in new church work received their training from extension. Only 25% of the people trained “in residence” are in new church work.
It’s more accurate to say “as goes PAD, so go the churches that depend on PAD.”
Sustainability. There was an appeal by non-Western presenters for their fellow training institutions to be self-sufficient, not dependent on the West.
This message of non-dependence, however, is just as relevant for the Western theological schools.
Those of us in the West need a good dose of realism about our own dependency on students’ loans from the government, subsidies from churches, and gifts from donors.
It’s difficult to ask “what’s best for the Kingdom” when we have to be so pre-occupied with what’s best for the bottom-line.
Extension. Most of the institutions came from the African continent; most are addressing a “front-line” question: “How to provide training to the functional pastorsÜmostly unordained adultsÜwho don’t have access to theological education?”
This gathering provided ample evidence that the key people of the Christian movement are “out there” and can’t “come here” for training. Theological institutions that want to be relevant to the global movement (and dare we say Kingdom-minded) need to keep this in mind.
For more information about being involved in the PAD Network, contact Phil Steyne at Columbia International University by email at [email protected]
Next Step: Training Alliance Catalyzing (contributed by Woody Phillips)
On September 27, at the Chapel in Akron, Ohio, a new partnership for training missionaries will be launched that has the potential to address the two primary problems facing North American missions today: high attrition and low effectiveness.
Attrition. According to the WEF (World Evangelical Fellowship) Mission Commission global study, 71% of all attrition is for preventable reasons.
Effectiveness. Low effectiveness is the part of the question we don’t like to discuss openly, but few could successfully defend the meager results that many on-field missionaries produce.
Next Step in Mission Training is the working name for the training
partnership of churches, agencies and training groups that will gather in September.
Next Step proposes to establish minimum training standards for the sending agencies and churches, and to provide that training through partners and others who can do the training.
Training for missions is expected to be addressed by Next Step at four levels: pre-candidates, pre-field candidates, initial on-field training and on-going in-service training on the field.
Next Step is not envisioned to be a “one-size-fits-all” approach to training nor dictate curriculum to anyone. It does, however, hope to find agreement on training minimums and to widely distribute a large menu of training options across the country.
If you want more information and/or are interested in participating in the initial set-up meeting September 27, contact Woody Phillips at: United World Mission, Box 250, Union Mills, NC 28167 or email at [email protected]
ACCESS Conference Coming
Global Access: Bridging the Gap will be the theme for the 27th annual ACCESS meeting January 15-17, 1998 in Pasadena, CA.
ACCESS stands for the Association of Christian Continuing Education of Schools and Seminaries.
This network is comprised of over 50 institutions representing the major evangelical ATS (Association of Theological Seminaries) Seminaries, members of the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities, AABC (Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges) Schools, non-formal training institutions and mission related organizations.
ACCESS is the meeting (and the organization) of like-minded institutions who are working to extend training to the key leaders of the Christian movement, both here in North America and around the world.
These are the schools involved in what’s called distance learning, continuing education or extension education.
The conference will examine five critical issues relating to Global Access:
- Culture: Contextualizing content and style of curriculum.
- Commission: Linking the schools to the global Christian movement.
- Cooperation: Exploring how to work with mission agencies and global partners.
- Communication: Learning how to “add value” to technology.
- Credibility: Interpreting accreditation trends for distance education.
The conference is the primary activity of ACCESS. For a detailed brochure, contact Lois Spain by phone at 626-398-2184 or by email at [email protected].
World Christian Foundations: First Run Finished!
After six years of six people working full-time plus a total of 75 volunteers, the first run of the World Christian Foundations study program finished on August 8th.
The WCF study program combines the essential content of seminary plus the upper division of a university general education with an ever present global, biblical, mission perspective.
Accredited colleges in America are using it already. Wycliffe Bible Translators has approved it as a theological base for people working in their new Field Survey Division.
More information. Contact the USCWM on the outer cover response form, email [email protected], or contact one of these regionally accredited Christian colleges:
M.A. Level: Steve Burris at Hope International University (formerly Pacific Christian College), 2500 Nutwood Ave., Fullerton CA 92631, 1-800-762-1294, ext 620.
B.A. Level: Tim Tomlinson at Northwestern College, 3003 Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55113-1598, 1-800-308-5495.
Declaration by Presidents and Academic Deans from GCOWE ‘97
- The primacy of missiological concern for world evangelism must be recognized and focused in the total curriculum of ministry training.
- Partnership at all levels and in multiple forms is essential for reaching the unreached people groups of the world.
- Formal, non-formal and relational approaches to learning are to be seen as complementary rather than competitive.
- The content of ministry training must uphold the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the necessity of personal faith in Him as Lord and Savior. This is especially imperative in the light of the increasingly pluralistic environment which has brought about the resurgence of non-Christian religions hostile to the advance of the Gospel, by the erosion of historic Christianity in the West, and by the increasing prevalence of secularism almost everywhere.
- Ministry training must aim to produce practicing supernaturalists who minister effectively in the power of the Holy Spirit, relying on prayer and complete trust in the Word of God.
- Basic to all ministry training is spiritual and character formation in the life of the student, in part facilitated by the example of the teacher.
- Approaches to ministry training must reflect concern for the whole counsel of God, wisely contextualized and sustainable by local and national resources.
- Academic accreditation may serve to guarantee quality control and encourage institutional effectiveness. At the same time it should not be allowed to impede the spiritual and missiological thrust of theological education. Every effort must be made to assure that accrediting structures affirm and promote commitment to world evangelization.
- Serious consideration should be given to the training of both husband and wife for their mutual effectiveness in ministry, and accessibility to ministry training broadened to include all who can benefit from it.
- A permanent track should be incorporated into the AD2000 Movement and another Consultation convened.
Looking to the future, we call upon college presidents and academic deans and commit ourselves to put a vision of “a church for every people and the Gospel for every person” at the heart of ministry training. We resolve to explore together a new paradigm of partnership in theological education that training schools share their distinctives and resources to accomplish the goal of global evangelization.
We shall continue to press the claims of the kingdom as we move towards the consummation of history and the coming of our Lord in the glory of God.