Rethinking discipleship and leadership training

Rethinking discipleship and leadership training

My experience in Australia and discovery of Forge has got me thinking about discipleship and ministry training. In the west we have relied on institutions to do this for a long time. I work in one and I really enjoy it. For some students these institutions do more good than harm, for others it is the opposite. Regardless of how effective these institutions are many are under a lot of financial pressure.

I think the story is the same across the board. 80% of donations come from the boomer’s parents and they are beginning to die off. Their kids, the boomers, tend to be more materialistic and less generous. The boomers kids are often anti-institutional so they given even less. As donations remain flat the costs of running these institutions climbs forcing tuition hikes. Keep following the trend and eventually people can’t afford it, especially if what they are learning cannot be transferred to building a career. In Canada half the colleges and seminaries probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Canada Student Loans. Some students finish the program with the equivalent of small mortgage.

In academia there is a constant push to further differentiate yourself with higher level degrees. The schools and colleges compete with on another with options and programs to attract students. Over time the schools spend more and more money to fight over and increasingly small piece of the potential student “pie”. Because of all these things the cost of discipleship is extremely high. Based on average tuition rates and donations collected it costs about 14-24 thousand dollars to disciple one person for one year. Could we get the same similar results leaving that money in the local church?

In many circles people are rethinking church and even the gospel. I think we need to reconsider how we train church leaders.

  1. #1 by Blackjack Magic on February 21, 2005 - 9:00 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Leighton! I had a great time at the BlogFest and really appreciated the opportunity to warp a little reality for you.

    One small correction to my email address though:

  2. #2 by Toni on February 23, 2005 - 2:34 am

    For years Salt and light have had a bible college designed to run tightly integrated to the local church. It’s been through several different forms and a couple of countries, but currently the King’s bible college and training centre is based in Oxford. The point is to train people to influence the world and equip them for ministry, rather than provide ‘theological’ knowledge.

    Guess I’d agree that things are changing. I’ve been close enough to a major theological college to see both those that benefitted and those that were broken by it. As long as it drives those seeking training to receive a ‘real world’ approach then think it has to be a good thing. Not that there isn’t a pleasure in abstract knowledge, but it should not be mistaken for equipping people to build the kingdom of God.

  3. #3 by Paul Fromont on February 24, 2005 - 12:16 pm

    Amen Leighton, having served on the board of the local branch of our national Bible College of New Zealand for several years the issues you raise in this post are some of the many issues that undergraduate and graduate seminaries / bible colleges etc face – particularly the link for younger people to the question – “will this help my career and abilities to produce an income….?” (that kind of thing). That said, many retired or financially secure older people are starting to consider theological training / learning as they want to deepen their faith. I still love the “motto” for Bethany…

  4. #4 by Toni on February 25, 2005 - 6:10 am

    An interesting post from another free thinker:

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