JT English Isn't Talking About the Brookside Institute in This Audio Segment. But in a Lot of Ways, He Could Be.
Recently, I was pointed towards this audio segment with JT English, Pastor of Training at The Village Church in Texas. I love hearing people articulate a passion and vision for biblical & theological equipping in the church and for the church - because of how closely this aligns with what we're trying to do with the Brookside Institute.
Below I've included a recent episode (Episode #5) of The Village Church Podcast Show (you can find it and subscribe on iTunes if you'd like). The whole episode is worthwhile, but the segment I have in mind for this post - where the episode deals specifically with the Training Program at The Village - is about 2/3 of the way in. Start listening at about 21:50, and you'll get about 10 minutes worth of solid stuff.
Of course, Dr. English is talking about the Training program at the Village - he's not talking about the Brookside Institute. Don't expect 100% overlap. There are certain things they've chosen to do there that we've chosen not to do at the Brookside Institute. But there's still A LOT of overlap. Keep reading to learn more.
Let me piggy back on this audio segment by adding my hearty (and brief!) "Amen" to four things mentioned about (1) the role of training in "bolstering" other ministries of the church, (2) the imperative of the church to ground people in biblical literacy and theological education, (3) theology has always been done in and for the church, and (4) explicitly connecting theological formation to Christian formation and discipleship:
Training bolsters other ministries of the church
Theological training does not exist for itself, nor should it be hermetically sealed off from other ministries of the church. (This sort of elitism or isolationism actually touches on two of our "Academic Vices" that we take pains to avoid in the Institute!) Instead, other ministries should "feel" the value that an intentional equipping program IN THE CHURCH provides. Theological education can provide a framework to better worship Jesus through music, as lyrics are appreciated in fresh ways. Theological formation equips group leaders (and group members) with a grounding in the Bible and Christian orthodoxy that we want winsomely explained in living rooms and coffee shops around the city.
The church has an obligation to ground people in biblical literacy and theological formation
The church must not abdicate theological instruction to educational institutions such as Christian colleges and seminaries. As valuable as those institutions are (and will remain), the local church must have an intentional, relatively comprehensive plan for grounding and growing the believers in their midst who will never attend a residential seminary.
Theology is for the church
Historically, the task (and benefits) of theology have not been reserved for institutions - theology has been done in and for the church. May this be the case in our culture and context as well!
Theological formation serves discipleship
Theological formation should never create "big heads with small hearts and idle hands." Instead, theological formation should set our minds our fire, stir our affections for God and the gospel, and train us with skills to better know, love and serve God and our neighbor. Theological formation should help us Dig Deep, Learn Good, and Launch Well!
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