Midwestern Seminary announced July 7 the launching of the For the Church Institute—a free online training platform designed to provide accessible theological training to equip, encourage and edify the local church and beyond.
Jordan Wilbanks, director of church partnerships at Midwestern Seminary, acknowledged that there is a growing movement in local churches, called “church-based theological education,” where regular church members are seeking out educational opportunities—such as classes typically taken in seminaries—from within their own churches.
In response to this need, Wilbanks said Midwestern Seminary has spent considerable time over the past year-and-a-half developing For the Church Institute, which provides solid theological training to local congregations through 10-week classes on foundational subjects like theology, church history, being a Christian, Old Testament, New Testament and more.
“What we’ve aimed for in developing FTC Institute is to provide a curriculum consisting of shell versions of our core classes that are accessible for anyone from pre-teens to great-grandmothers,” Wilbanks said. “We want to remove the ivory tower image of a seminary in our dealings with churches. The fact is we exist for local churches.
“Our primary goal is to strengthen the church from the inside out,” he added. “In these challenging cultural times, it’s imperative that our everyday church members know how to defend their faith and continue growing as a Christian.”
The FTC Institute, Wilbanks shared, is a free resource built specifically for church members to learn from Midwestern Seminary’s world-class faculty—making the Bible come alive and enabling believers to grow in a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Wilbanks added that through this program there is absolutely no intent to displace the local church pastor’s teaching responsibilities or teaching function. Rather, he noted, “For the Church Institute is a tool created to help church leaders shepherd their people and equip them for ministry.
“The courses are intended to help church members know God better through his Word under the instruction of their pastors with our professors as a resource. At Midwestern Seminary, we have a world-class faculty, and FTC Institute shares them directly with local churches. In these classes, you can build a solid foundation of theological education to strengthen your faith and your confidence with the Word of God.”
Wilbanks said his office frequently hears from pastors wanting to provide some kind of educational structure so their people can grow deeper in their personal study and knowledge of God. In partnership, he said, FTC Institute desires to see these saints, with eyes trained on eternity, being equipped for the work of the ministry—while not leaving all the ministry to those in pastoral ministry.
For the Church Institute’s initial offerings include Church History I, taught by John Mark Yeats, dean of students and professor of church history; Theology I, led by Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian Theology; “Being a Christian” with President Jason Allen; and “The Story of Everything” led by Jared Wilson, author-in-residence and assistant professor of pastoral ministry. Other courses to be developed in the future include Old Testament & New Testament Surveys and Interpreting the Bible.
Wilbanks explained that FTC Institute is a tool ready-made for pastors to help their churches without needing much prep time, and participating church members aren’t required to have any prior level of training to benefit from the courses. “Just come with a heart willing to learn more about the God who saw fit to come to the earth, save us from sin, death, and hell, and make us his own through his Son, Jesus Christ.”
The FTC Institute’s vision for the future is one in which each member of each Christian church is trained with sound doctrine to go and make disciples, Wilbanks said. “For the Church Institute is not a silver bullet or the ultimate answer to any church’s woes—again, that answer is Jesus Christ.
“But through these classes, we desire to have a church body in which 15-year-olds know that the Old and New Testaments are one story, revealing the Word made flesh. We need our oldest saints equipped and laser-focused for mission that they might share the great story of Scripture with friends who fear the darkness on the nearing horizon. As a result, the church of Jesus Christ will be made stronger.”
To learn more about the FTC Institute or register your church for the program, visit www.ftcinstitute.com.