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International Training Centre

Partners in Training for Mission and Ministry

 

A PROGRAMME FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Christian College | Graduation Nigeria

Cliff College is a Methodist institution with an evangelical and mission ethos. As a Bible College, it has a proud history of giving training to Christian lay-people of all denominations from many parts of the world for over 100 years. More recently it has become a chosen centre for the further training of both ministers and lay people through its pioneering and popular distance learning courses validated by Manchester University and offered from Diploma through to Masters Level. Learning and reflection linked with praxis has become the hallmark of these part taught (during residential weeks), part self-study (reading and assignments) and part research/placement assessed courses which are usually completed over two years. During the past five years, Cliff College, through its International Training Centre, has used this basic template to pioneer and pilot a visionary training concept in association with partner churches in Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

 

TRAINING IN SIERRA LEONE

The British Methodist Church provided primary funding of £20,000 a year for two years and we began to explore what would be involved in using this well-proven template to do training overseas in partnership with local churches and Christian Councils.Christian College | Theological Training

At the invitation of, and in partnership with, the Christian Council of Sierra Leone (CCSL) the College ran a very successful ecumenical pilot programme at the Theological College in Freetown. This resulted in 73 of the 99 students who began the two-year course in 2002 completing and being awarded by Cliff College an International Diploma in Applied Ministry and Mission (IDIAMM) in 2004.

Once underway, the project attracted additional support from a variety of sponsors, including MMS (Ireland). This meant that over the two years of the course in Sierra Leone all students, including those who were not successful, received lecture notes and contextualised teaching (from a partnership of local and international lecturers). They were resourced with books (retailing at £700 for each student) that will continue to enrich their ministry in the years that lie ahead.

A positive evaluation of the two-year pilot project in post-conflict Sierra Leone prompted the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone (MCSL) to request further training in ‘Leadership and Administration' for those in ministry and Conference Office Staff. This training of key personnel involved in the rebuilding and reconciliation programmes of the Church was undertaken by a visiting team who made three visits in March 2006, October 2006 and February 2007. (Separate reports are available.)

 

TRAINING IN NIGERIA

The Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN) asked us to develop an IDIAMM course, similar to that piloted in Sierra Leone, but with a special emphasis on training ‘evangelism trainers' as the church repositions itself with a fresh focus on mission.Methodist Theological Institute, Sagamu

This programme began in July 2006 at two Methodist Colleges in Nigeria and saw more than 100 students graduate in July 2008. The programme has been so successful that further funding sought by the MCN for a rolling programme has been approved by the British Methodist Church so that all ordained ministers and deaconesses can receive this further training in ‘Ministry and Mission'. A total of 150 students were enrolled for the 2008-10 course and a further 200 students were enrolled on the 2010-12 course.

The IDIAMM programme is flexible but generally includes modules on:

Study & Research Skills; Adult Learning and Training; Mission in the Old Testament; Evangelism in the New Testament; Encounter with other Religions & Sects; Applied Ministry & Leadership (incl. Pastoral); Worship & Preaching (incl. visits to and assessment of local growing Churches); Christian Spirituality; Church Growth in (African) Church History (including teaching on Methodism); Applied Evangelism; Aids Awareness.

In Nigeria it was agreed that we should incorporate in the IDIAMM programme of training a requirement upon the students (mainly ministers) that they should be involved in training evangelists (possibly in the vernacular) in their local situation throughout the two-year course. Their success (or otherwise) with this will be assessed along, with a research project as part of the overall course.

 

‘DOING TRAINING OVERSEAS WITH PARTNER CHURCHES' WORKS!

 

Basic funding of around £20,000 a year from the British Methodist Church for each course has attracted further donations and funding from elsewhere. Feed the Minds grants, aided by discounted book prices from organisations like SPCK and The Langham Partnership have resourced students, local staff and college libraries associated with each of these courses. Our partner churches in Sierra Leone and Nigeria have contributed to the course costs by providing buildings, resources, hospitality for the visiting team and through a nominal registration fee for each student. Outside the programme budget, many thousands of pounds continue to be generated through visiting lecturers, for projects as diverse as Manse rebuilding in Sierra Leone and College water supplies in Nigeria. The co-ordinator is used by contacts both here and there as a supplementary (to the World Church Office), conduit for current information about the countries in which the CCITC is involved.

Highly qualified visiting lecturers/trainers, many with previous experience overseas have offered their time and particular expertise free of charge. The cost of travel, visas and out of pocket expenses for a visiting team of six–eight people utilised for the two–three weeks residentials, twice a year are met from the budget. The visiting lecturers, who are partnered with local lecturers, engage in a mutually profitable exchange of insights, lecture notes and other materials that enriches their continuing ministry both in the local situation and in the UK. A properly funded short-term exchange of lecturers between colleges in partnership would do even more to

Improve the cultural diversity experienced in a ‘from everywhere to everywhere' mixture of relationships and access to resources.

Large numbers of students are receiving (further) training whilst they continue with their own ministry through tailored courses that address their own concerns and contexts. Whilst every effort is made to maintain the courses and training at appropriate academic levels, the Cliff College validation, has freed the course from the additional costs and constraints that would be imposed by affiliation to a British university. In the development of future specialised programmes using the same format e.g. Diploma in Children's or Youth Work and with Undergraduate/Postgraduate Courses, it may be possible to obtain validation through an affiliated local University.

The CCITC concept of ‘Doing training overseas with partner churches' has proved itself economically viable, practically possible and adaptable to differing situations and circumstances (including a brief but enriching training visit to Cuba). The concept has limitations, largely associated with administrative and logistical support; finance and resources. Whilst this programme has been developed through Cliff College with the larger part of the funding being provided by the Methodist Church our hope is that at a time when funding/resources support through the ‘western church' is diminishing, there will be a general recognition on the part of all churches (and former missionary societies) that ‘Doing the training overseas with partner churches', with all the associated benefits for all parties concerned, is a worthwhile investment for the future of the church worldwide.

 

We welcome further donations from individuals or organisations who wish to support the kind of work overseas that we are doing through the ITC.

Further information and specific reports are available through contacting the Co-ordinator, Revd. Richard Jackson rev.rj@ntlworld.com


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