If you and I went for coffee sometime in the last few weeks, this subject would have come up. It's something that I've been working on for a couple of years.
How do I tell this story?
Over the last couple of years, I've had at least a dozen people (male and female) ask me what they could do to prepare for ministry. They felt called. At first it was just a couple, so I started the intern program. Then when we passed double digits, I knew that I needed to do something different than interns.
I think it's important to take these conversations seriously. Calling to ministry isn't something that people come up with naturally or ordinarily. So, I want to take it seriously, and see that we as a church have a responsibility to encourage and equip these people.
So, for the last couple of years, I feel like I've been around the block with Bible College ideas, school of ministry, online and distant learning, discipleship programs and so on. Back in October, I had a conversation with a pastor that was in the Ukraine for a few years. They had a similar situation to ours, with the same limitations and opportunities and they felt the Lord leading them to offer a handful of basic courses. As he shared their experience with it, I felt the witness of the Holy Spirit. It was a simple idea, biblically based, church based, inexpensive, practical, personal and transferrable. The courses they taught were New Testament Survey, Old Testament Survey (split into 2 parts), Romans, Acts and Revelation, 6 courses in total. The Bible serves as the textbook and the homework.
So, after a lot of discussion, conversations and prayer... Here's the BIG Announcement and our plan for 2012:
Starting on Thursday nights, March 1st-May 10th, from 7pm-10pm, at the church office, we will be offering 2 courses:
-New Testament Survey - An overview of the entire New Testament, it's origin, it's authority, it's themes, emphases, unique features and connections to the Old Testament. This course will be taught (in English!) by Pastor Georges Larabie of Eglise Baptiste Evangelique du Bon Berger.
-Romans - A study through the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans. Romans is a great letter to examine the basic doctrines of sin, salvation, Spirit-filled life and God's plan for Israel. This course will be taught by myself.
New Testament Survey will be from 7pm-8:25pm and Romans will be from 8:35-10pm. A person should take both courses simultaneously, and be able to apply the content and homework into their life. We will only be able to take 20 people for this first term. There will be no courses for Spring Break which is March 15th. We will have a registration page up shortly on the church website, along with some more information and details. The cost is still being decided, but it should be very inexpensive and accessible to everyone.
We are planning a second term to start in the fall, probably at the end of September. In that term we would like to offer Old Testament I, and Acts. And then in a third term starting in January 2013, we could look at offering Old Testament II, and Revelation. Of course, this is all subject to change, but we could also look at offering additional courses and so forth and so on...
Obviously, this is a big deal. My friend from the Ukraine, told me that God really blessed what they did, and raised up all kinds of workers for the Harvest fields there. It turned out to be such a fruitful thing for the church there. If you think about it, this really is what the church is supposed to do, raise up it's own leadership, and reproduce itself in other places.
Can I ask you to take a minute and pray for us in this? Pray that we would stay focused on what the Holy Spirit wants us to do through this. Pray that the Holy Spirit would put the people He wants in the room, and would continue to guide our minds and hearts further into the truth. I believe with all my heart, that God wants to equip people from our congregation to do some amazing things not only in Ottawa, but in the surrounding area and all around the world. May we be faithful to His call.