There are 1.9 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus. To reach these people, we are exploring innovative and faithful ways to train workers to share God’s love and build Christian communities in every part of the world. We believe that planting new churches, communities committed to sharing life together and ministering in the name of Jesus, is the best way to evangelize the world. In order to plant faithful and hospitable new churches we must train and equip laborers for this good work. Likewise, we learn to strengthen churches that already exist when we listen to other members of Christ’s body and learn to see God as the God of all the nations.
It is with these concerns in mind that President Timothy C. Tennent shares seven reasons why institutional partnerships are vital for the global Church.
- The cross-cultural encounters between our faculty, staff, and students will equip them to occupy a global platform and will stimulate deeper theological reflection.
- These relationships will force us to move beyond simplistic understandings of the gospel and expose many places where we in the West have domesticated the gospel. Seeing Christianity from a global perspective forces us to rethink Christianity and how it responds to major global challenges such as poverty, the challenge of major world religions, structural economic sin, and so forth.
- Global partnerships will enable Asbury Seminary to move beyond seeing itself as merely a teaching institution and move to also becoming a learning institution. Lasting and productive partnerships require deeper levels of humility and patience, particularly in the area of listening. Learning how to learn, especially from those we sometimes subconsciously regard as inferior, demands deep spiritual change and repentance, as well as intellectual adjustment. It takes humility to turn a class over to a visiting professor who may not have published books, but brings a wealth of global experience to our students.
- Global partnerships will challenge our home culture’s understanding of success and force us to rely more fully on divine resources, providence, and power.
- As our professors discover the global Church more intimately, they will inevitably learn things about their own discipline, such as church history or theology that were not previously evident. We have told church history from the perspective of the Western struggle with the Roman Empire for so long, we forget how different that story looks if you are form the Han or Indic civilization where the unfolding of church history looks very different. Students from other countries challenge us with new questions and a broader frame of experiences through which they approach the gospel and specific texts of Scripture, forcing deeper reflection. This, in turn, will influence our teaching and learning on both of our campuses.
- As faculty gain more of a vision for the needs and contributions of the global Church, they will become better equipped for encouraging mission awareness and calling in students. Ideally, professors would come to view students as potential emissaries of the Kingdom who will return to their context more fully prepared to preach and teach the gospel.
- Finally, we are fully embracing what it means to be a missional Christian. We are devoting our lives and resources to the end to “make disciples of every nation.” This is really about the great commission, which surely must have been at the forefront of H.C. Morrison’s vision when he founded this institution to “spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.”