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  • Writer's pictureMichael White, PhD

Training For and From the Church

Updated: May 29, 2023

At the Institute for Theology and Mission, we believe that theological training is for and from the local church. Those prepositions are doing a lot of work, so let me unpack them.

First, theological training is for the church. You might be tempted to think theological training is for ministry professionals—pastors, church staff, missionaries, counselors, scholars. (And certainly these folks need theological training!) But all Christians are on a journey to reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Christ, so that we grow up to full maturity. And it is to us—normal, faithful Christians—that God has entrusted the work of ministry (Eph 4:11–12). After all, the Great Commission belongs not to the professionals, but to all of us! But many of us don’t feel equipped to lead a Bible study, to serve on a church planting team, to engage our neighborhoods with the gospel, or to lead a ministry team. That’s why we need theological training—it is for all of us in the church. And the beauty of it is that, as we get equipped, the whole church grows strong and is “built up.” The goal isn’t knowledge or degrees (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those), but that the church grows to become in every respect the mature body of him who is its head—Christ.

Theological training is for the church—for its good, for its health, and for all its people.

But, second, we believe that theological training comes from the local church. ITM loves Bible colleges and seminaries, and these serve the church well. But every church member doesn’t need to head to seminary! The training we need to serve in our local churches effectively—and to be sent out from them—should come from our churches. Who better knows how to equip Christians in our community than the shepherds who serve in the same context, keeping watch over their souls and regularly feeding them the Word? And so, at the Institute for Theology and Mission, our classes are taught by local pastors—practitioners in our community who have exceptional academic training and also practical experience. As area churches partner for theological training, they can do more together than they can apart. And that’s where ITM comes in—a collective of local churches partnering together to provide theological training that is for and from the local church, for the glory of God and the gospel’s advance.

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