Theological Education and the Local Church

What Does a Teaching Church Look Like?

October 7, 2016
In the first article of this series, I described our vision to return theological education back to the local church. Such a vision begs the question, “So, what would that look like in my church?” Or, “How can you incorporate formal theological education into the discipleship and leadership development programs of my church?”

The answer to such a question is Carroll Institute’s Advanced Christian Leadership Training (ACLT) Program in a Carroll Teaching Church.

Along with the highest quality of training for men and women who seek degrees for full time Christian Ministry through the Teaching Church, it is also the goal of Carroll Institute to provide the highest quality continuing education and training for church members and leaders within Teaching Churches and their surrounding mission fields. These participants are called “Readers.” Readers at Carroll Institute take classes much like auditors in other institutions. Individuals, who elect to take classes as Readers may attend class sessions (face-to-face, via videoconference, or online), receive class materials, participate in class discussions and activities, and have access to portions of the online library. Classes completed by Readers will apply toward Readers Certificates in Advanced Christian Leadership Training (explained below).

Who can participate in the ACLT Program and How Much Will it Cost?

All Teaching Churches that have entered into formal agreement with Carroll Institute to do theological education within the context of that church are able to have all of their lay members participate in the ACLT Program at no cost. Non-Teaching Church Readers pay a small administration fee to audit the courses. We also want to make this training available to members and leaders within churches that surround the Teaching Church (churches within the association or sister churches of other denominations). A Teaching Church can become a hub of training to surrounding churches, staff members, ministries and associations through face-to-face attendance and classes offered via videoconference.

What Makes This Program Different From Other Discipleship Training Programs?

Unlike many training programs, most courses will be taught at the Masters level and will provide the highest level of quality training for church leaders. Highly qualified and degreed instructors who are specialists in the field of study will also teach them. Carroll often utilizes the credentialed and qualified members of the Teaching Church as professors to teach the courses locally. Participants will train along with matriculated students of Carroll who are going into full-time Christian ministry and are working on degrees. This is member/leader training at a seminary level—taught in the context of the local church. The ACLT will provide the advanced, discipleship-training program for which most of today’s church leaders and members search for today.

How Does The ACLT Program Help Discipleship Training in the Church?

Most staff leaders who oversee the discipleship and leadership development programs of the church are constantly looking for ways to make disciples and develop leaders. The ACLT Program of Carroll Institute provides such training at a professional but practical level in the context of the church. Because it covers the full spectrum of theological training at the professional level, participants constantly encounter a wide diversity of subjects in Christian ministry and leadership—from in depth Bible and practical / pastoral ministries studies, to historical and ethical studies, to age-group training and worship / mission studies. The spectrum of training is far more extensive than any curriculum plan developed by any publishing house. We offer a schedule of sixteen core courses, four from each Learning Cluster, regularly throughout the year. Such a program will challenge all of the church’s leaders—from the beginning novice to the most sophisticated, highly skilled disciple/leader. The ACLT gives the person responsible for the development of members and leaders, a way to tract the training and development of those who participate.

What are the Readers Certificate and the Readers Diploma?

When Readers have completed four courses of study in the ACLT Program of Carroll they will automatically receive a Readers Certificate in Advanced Christian Leadership Training (Level 1). When they have finished another four courses of study, they will receive a Readers Certificate in Advanced Christian Leadership Training (Level 2). This will continue through four levels. When the fourth level is completed the reader is awarded a Readers Diploma in Advanced Christian Leadership Training. A church should celebrate each level of training for each leader in order to recognize his or her achievement and to encourage others to “sharpen the saw” of their biblical knowledge and ministry skills.

If you would like more information about Carroll’s partnership with Teaching Churches or would like to dialogue with one of our current churches, email me at gwilkes@bhcarroll.edu, and I will get the answer to your question and/or connect you with one of our active Teaching Churches.

I remain convinced the Carroll Teaching Church network is the model for equipping men and women called to serve Christ and his church and to “build up the church” through biblically-based theological education.

Let me know what you think/feel about what we are trying to do.

Share your experience of partnering with a seminary to train your members for “works of service.”

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