How were church leaders trained in the New Testament?
The answer to that question drives us to consider church-based theological training. The options of the last hundred years till now for further training seem to have considerable drawbacks:
Go to a Bible college (which is fairly expensive, options are limited, and interaction with the local church is reduced drastically)
Go to a seminary (which is very expensive, and usually takes leaders out of their ministries for 4-5 years)
Get an online degree (which means little or no personal contact with teachers and fellow students)
We think there’s a better solution. Local churches must reclaim their biblical duty to proactively train gospel-centered, reproducing leaders. A rigorous yet affordable church-based theological training program here in Mid-coast Maine is crucial to see the gospel advance in this corner of the world. Without strong leaders we will not have strong churches, and without strong churches we will not have reached communities. This model of church-based theological training is not innovative, but rather is rediscovering an apprenticeship approach to ministry training modeled after Paul’s personal investment in rising leaders like Timothy and Titus.
The Antioch School uses a Biblical Theology approach to present texts, questions for Socratic discussion, and theological readings to generate theology-in-community discussions. The student then distills what they have studied in an assigned project to drill down what they have learned and how it applies tho their local church context.
Here are the Leadership Series I courses to form the core of the Leadership I program. The Leadership Series is a collection of resources designed to help local church leaders, missionaries, and pastors develop leaders to strengthen and expand the church worldwide.
Acts: Keys to the Establishment and Expansion of the First-Century Church
Determine the fundamental biblical principles regarding the mission of the church and its role in missions and developing guidelines and strategy from these principles for a local church’s involvement.
Pauline Epistles: Strategies for Establishing Churches
Determine the fundamental biblical principles for growing and strengthening (establishing) a church to maturity and developing a strategy for implementing the biblical forms and functions of a church necessary for making and keeping it strong.
Understanding the Essentials of Sound Doctrine
Build a contemporary didache—an Early Church manual to establish believers in the essentials of the Apostles’ teaching. This contemporary didache must be founded solidly upon the faith delivered by the Apostles; seasoned by the historical effort of the Church; and be eminently relevant to our present cultural situations.
Leaders and the Early Church
Bring leadership training back to the center of the local church in a way that will empower churches to participate in the expansion of the gospel with the same vision and effectiveness as the first church at Antioch.
Preaching, Teaching, and Worship in the Early Church
Develop the ability to preach and teach within the five sermonic forms of the Early Church: evangelistic, catechetical, expository, prophetic, and festal. These forms grow from the integration with sound hermeneutical principles rooted in author’s intention, literary design, the theology of each book and canonical section of the Scriptures, and related to the multi-level needs for teaching and establishing local churches in the Apostles’ teaching.
Shepherding, Counseling, and the Early Church
Build a comprehensive shepherding strategy for a church that is rooted in the traditional pastoral care paradigm, drawn from the Scriptures, especially from Paul’s early letters, rather than the secular psychological care paradigm of contemporary culture.
The Family and the Early Church
Understand the idea of the church as a family and the individual family as a “family within a family,” and use the implications of this reality to develop strategies for building strong households within the context of the church.
Evangelism and the Early Church
Develop and implement a household strategy for reaching unbelievers with the gospel and incorporating them into the life of the church, based on biblical principles and patterns for the home and the church.
Habits of the Heart
Determine the necessity of every believer embracing sound doctrine in the habits that under gird life and ministry, coming to conviction regarding its role in the lifelong pursuit of purity and wisdom.
Character of a Leader
Understand the biblical idea of qualified leadership and determine the fundamental biblical guidelines for character formation in leaders and in the household of God.
Ministry Priorities and Personal Management
Create a life-management strategy founded on biblical principles and focused on a central life purpose that will guide each person to be an effective steward of his or her God-given priorities and responsibilities.
Ministry Perspectives: Conflicts Without, Fears Within
Develop a biblical perspective of life and ministry as the guiding force for standing firm in the ministry, skillfully and resolutely addressing the problems and problem people within the church.
Interpreting the Word I: Principles and Procedures
Gain the skills and insight for identifying the author’s intention for writing, as it is expressed in the text he has written, as the determinant of meaning. Then, out of that meaning, determining the significance of the text for today.
Interpreting the Word II: Linguistics, Languages, and Study Aids
Develop the ability to skillfully use Hebrew and Greek in the interpreting, preaching, and teaching of the Word, using the advancement of linguistics and computer technology tools.
Covenants, Unity of Scripture, and Biblical Worldview
Understand the basic message of the Scriptures and the major motifs of both testaments as a basis for developing a life view that is consistent with God’s plan and purposes.
Here's a synopsis of the Antioch School and the philosophy of establishing leaders through church-based theological training rather than sending away our leaders and farming out the training to institutions: