Many people have noted the changes taking place in education across the globe. On October 2-5, a group of ten Nazarene educators and leaders met in Singapore to discuss “re-envisioning theological education.” The group included mission directors, college presidents, regional and field education coordinators, district superintendents, pastors, instructors, and administrators. Members came from Europe, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines, and the USA. Several hundred years of experience in Nazarene education was represented in the group.
The group discussed the challenges that theological education faces on the Asia-Pacific Region. The driving question focused on character formation and the relationship of being, knowing, and doing, which have been crucial values in Nazarene education. The group is concerned that students be formed into the image of Christ through Nazarene education at every level.
They began by exploring the central mission of the church—to make Christlike disciples—and that everything in education must serve this mission. This includes the local church all the way to the highest degrees offered in our institutions. The group emphasized that all believers are called to make disciples, although some will be called to the specialized ministries of Ephesians 4:11. With rapid church growth in some places, increased government regulations in others, and the challenges of globalization, the Church of the Nazarene must think creatively how to equip people for this mission.
To address these pressing needs, the group explored new models and methods that are consistent with our Wesleyan ethos and the blend of Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience in the transformation process. The vital roles of local churches, districts, and educational providers in fulfilling Christ’s mission for the church was also discussed. Mentoring was determined as a vital link among these to help students experience character formation and vocational preparation.
The group felt God’s leading and presence throughout the meeting, in the quietness of listening to God in prayer and in the sharing of stories and testimonies of God’s grace.
The group sees this meeting as an important first step of rethinking the whole process of making disciples and leaders. As the group reflects on their ideas in the coming months, they will prepare materials that will be useful for education across the Asia-Pacific Region and Global Church.