Further in the series of articles on Creative Things happening in theological education is this report by the Coordinator of Leadership Training for Victorian Baptists in Australia, Darren Cronshaw. Darren writes of a ten year experiment in training:
“The Forge Mission Training Network was started in Melbourne ten years ago by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, authors of The Shaping of Things to Come. It now runs courses in six states of Australia, New Zealand and is starting to develop networks in the United States. Forge runs a training program focused on church planting, and increasingly also remissionalisation, in the Western world.”
“The foundational year long 'internship' consists of:
- 3 four day intensives, on 'Paradigms of the Missional Church', 'Spirituality, Sustainability & Discipleship' and 'Pioneering Leadership'. These are based on the skills Forge identified church planters needed and that colleges were not always offering. We give students readings for background, but the focus of teaching at intensives is on inspiration and stories of innovative mission more than information and theory.
- A missional field placement, reflecting on the intern's own missionary context or a new one that stretches their comfort zone
- Fortnightly coaching for an experienced missional practitioner
- Monthly cluster group meetings with other interns”
“Past interns are now planting house-churches, cafe churches, doing community development in schools and some of the poorest areas of Melbourne, and seeking to live out their lives as missionaries in their everyday lives. Forge is not a church, denomination or college but thrives on win-win relationships with each of those groups e.g. they are not accredited in their own right but work through partnerships with other colleges for whom they teach courses. About one third of interns do their training through an accredited college towards a BTh, GradDipMin or MA, and two-thirds do it just for its own sake without wanting accreditation.”
“Forge invites denominations and churches to partner with them for $1000 per year and in exchange gives two free tickets to any and every.”
“Forge's staff members are all on 1-to-3 days per week, or voluntary, and are involved in some other context of mission that they draw on in their teaching and supervision of interns.”
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Students at a Forge event.