Friday, June 11, 2010

Church Army reflects on its move away from academic training

So, Church Army did some rethinking about how they train people so that the least, the last and the lost wold be reached with the good news from Jesus Christ. Recognising that the current church simply wasn't reaching these people, and wasn't about to soon, they CHANGED WHAT THEY WERE DOING. Crazy huh.

"While academic qualifications make Church Army candidates more employable in
local church settings, the demand and delivery style of academic training tends to de-
select mavericks and activists. Unfortunately, these temperaments tend to correlate
with those most suited to pioneering mission among those beyond the reach of the
traditional church.

Further, academic training tends to isolate the trainee from the mission context, and
focuses on ability to work with concepts and propositions in the artificial atmosphere
of the classroom. This socializes students towards the conceptual and away from the
practical - rewarding scholarly, introverted, compliant behaviour. This may lead to
the graduate carrying their college behaviour of studying and presenting theological
verbatim into parish life.

The net result of Church Army’s move towards academia was to socialize students
towards the behaviours and values of the established institutional church and its
clergy, thus preparing them for ministry within the church walls."

Not only that, but it removed the possibility of leadership from the very people they were trying to reach.
We seriously, seriously frown on that as a missionary practice overseas nowadays. The idea that the local church should provide leadership is pretty well entrenched in missionary thinking.
Yet the idea that a small group of people from an essentially alien culture have the sole right of leadership in Australian (and Sydney) churches lives on.
Now, I love College, I love the learning. I love theology. I love thinking. We need theologians. We need theologians on the street.
But there is more than a bit of truth in what they are saying.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Where's the quote from?