The Local Church Is First

Chris Hay —  January 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

churchHere at Eternity Bible College we believe in the local church. We believe the church is the Bride of Christ, the living organism that God instituted in Acts 2 to be His primary vehicle to accomplish the Great Commission. We recognize that we as a Bible College are NOT the local church, but that we do have an integral role in seeing the church fulfill her God-given task.

We require every one of our students to be involved in a local church which includes having a regular ministry and having someone in their church mentor or disciple them. We have even built in procedures and accountability that could result in a student being asked to leave if they are not involved in a church. It is that important to us.

We currently have about 115 students at our Simi Valley campus. These students are plugged into 44 different local churches in the greater Simi Valley area! I think that is an amazing statistic! Our students are getting an incredibly diverse ‘hands-on’ education as they immediately apply the things they learn in the classroom to the ‘real world’ of ministry.

We also have about 75 Distance Ed students, and all of these students are also involved in their local churches. That means our students are actively ministering in nearly 120 different local churches. And there are currently 156 older, wiser adults serving as mentors/disciplers, investing in our students, helping them work through issues and the things they are learning in the classroom.

This ‘non-academic’ education is a critical part of every student’s education. In his journal article “Multiplying Jesus Mentors—Designing a Reproducible Mentoring System: A Case Study,” D. Michael Crow observes that Chinese church leaders complain that institutionalized training models from the West are too formal and academic, as opposed to their more informal apprentice-style training models. Using the apprentice model, Chinese evangelists led millions to Christ, prior to the arrival of institutional models from the West in the early 1990s. They say that conventional Western academic approaches tend to produce leaders with lots of head but little heart who are unable to lead, care for people, or minister effectively. We here at Eternity work hard to avoid that syndrome in our students and graduates.

So we will continue to require our students to be involved in a local church. We will continue to require every student to have a mentor in his or her local church. We will continue to provide training for those mentors.

We do this because we are fundamentally committed to the local church. Are you?

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Chris Hay

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Chris is the Director of Church Relations at Eternity. He grew up as a pastor’s kid and served in the pastorate for over 20 years, both in associate and senior roles, before coming to EBC. He is passionate about seeing people live out a radical life-changing commitment to Jesus, and he is deeply burdened for the spiritual health of pastors. He and his wife Dawn are the founders and directors of Zarephath Ministries (ZarMin.org) which provides spiritual retreats for pastors. His hobbies include reading (history, biography, Puritans, mystics), woodworking, and being in God’s glorious creation. He and Dawn homeschooled their two amazing children.