The Theological Training Course (TTC) of the Evangelical Movement of Wales (EMW) is designed to train men for gospel ministry in the 21st century. The thinking behind the course is that there is an urgent need for men who can faithfully preach and teach God’s timeless truth and relate and apply it to our ever changing world.
Philosophy and aims
Only God can give the graces and impart the gifts which are needed for gospel ministry. The Course seeks to help develop these gifts and graces in a number of ways. It does not provide a general theological education for anyone who is interested in such studies; rather, it seeks to give the necessary training to help a man develop the graces and gifts which God has imparted to him, so that he will be an effective preacher and teacher of God’s Word, a pastor of God’s people, and be able to function evangelistically in God’s world.
Who is it for?
Men who will serve God effectively and who will benefit from the Course will have a conviction that they should give themselves wholly to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and the care of God’s people, and will have a burden to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. Their home church will have responsibly assessed them and will share the conviction that they should devote themselves to gospel ministry.
The Course is particularly suited for men whose circumstances or convictions are such that attendance at a theological college is not possible. Men already in preaching / pastoral / evangelistic ministry who have not had the opportunity of training may also find the Course to be especially suitable for them.
What does the Course involve?
The Course lasts for four years: years A, B, C, and D. Men may join in any year (thus it is possible to start in Year D or end in Year A). All students, therefore, study the same material at the same time.
There are 2 residential sessions, one in the week of August and the other in Easter week. These sessions begin on Monday morning and end on Friday afternoon. Each morning there are lectures in the following subjects: Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, and Church History. There is free time each afternoon between lunch and afternoon tea, during which men may use the sports facilities at the Conference Centre where the Course is run, or at the Bala Leisure Centre opposite the Conference Centre. Alternatively men may choose simply to enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding area or spend time with their families if these have accompanied them.
Between tea and dinner there are lectures on Pastoral Theology (which, as can be seen from the syllabus, is widely defined). After dinner there will either be an open discussion session or a paper given on a subject chosen from a wide variety of issues, such as contemporary culture, issues of theological concern, or historical or biographical material. These papers are then followed by discussion.
For the rest of the year students will follow a course of guided reading, having to submit a total of nine assignments through the year. There will be six written assignments after the August session (one per month) and three after the Easter session (also one per month). Where at all possible students will be allocated to a local tutor with whom they should meet each month for nine months of the year. The tutor’s function will be to help the student’s thinking with respect to the written assignments, as well as to be something of a mentor to him.
In addition, it will normally be the case that a student will be active in his home church, being given opportunities to preach, to take meetings, and to be involved in evangelistic and/or pastoral work.
The contents of the Course
All the lecturers are committed to the evangelical faith, and all students will be required to give whole-hearted assent to the EMW Statement of Doctrinal Belief found at the end of this prospectus. While no specific stance is taken over those issues with respect to which evangelicals differ (e.g., baptism, church government), the arguments for the respective positions being fairly stated and assessed, the position of the EMW and of the Course is that the Statement of Doctrinal Belief is understood, with respect to ‘the doctrines of grace’, against the background of the great Reformed confessions of the church (Westminster, Savoy, 1689 Baptist, 1823 Welsh Calvinistic Methodist).
While men of differing conviction with respect to these matters may be accepted onto the Course, the standpoint with respect to the doctrines of grace is, therefore, Reformed or Calvinistic, but allied to the experiential emphases which characterized Calvinistic Methodism.
Details of the syllabus are set out towards the end of this prospectus.
How is the Course delivered?
By a mixture of lectures and discussions, guided reading and assessment of written assignments.
What qualifications are needed?
The essential qualifications are that a man must have a sense of conviction that he should devote himself wholly to the work of preaching, teaching, and pastoring, and, in the normal course of events, have the support and endorsement of the officers and members of his home church that he is suitable for this work.
No formal academic qualifications are needed to be accepted onto the Course. This should not be interpreted to mean that the Course is a ‘soft option’. Quite the contrary! Men with first class degrees or doctorates from excellent universities have testified to the fact that the Course stretched their minds. On the other hand, men of lesser academic abilities or with few, if any, academic qualifications have found the Course to be extremely profitable and beneficial. Since God calls and equips both types of men for gospel ministry, we believe it to be right to provide training for all those who are gifted and equipped by God.
What qualifications are given?
No formal qualifications are awarded. This does not mean that the Course lacks spiritual and intellectual rigour or that students do not need to apply themselves to their studies; rather, it reflects our conviction that there is no biblical warrant for such a procedure, and that such an approach is inappropriate to preparation for gospel ministry. However, in recognition of the fact that men have given themselves to a demanding course of four years’ study, a certificate will be awarded to those men who complete the Course, in acknowledgement of the fact that they have attended the residential sessions and completed the written assignments. For those who are able to attend, this certificate will be publicly awarded during the Annual English Conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales at Aberystwyth, in the August of the year in which the student completes the Course.
Relationship with other evangelical bodies and training courses/institutions
The Evangelical Movement of Wales is glad to be part of Affinity. It is committed to evangelical unity. As such, it has cordial relations with other training institutions and initiatives. It believes that, in these days of both great need and great opportunity, it is essential for evangelicals to be in co-operation, not in competition. Two of the lecturers also lecture on the PFS course run by the FIEC, while two of the lecturers lecture at LTS, and a third lecturer is a former Principal of LTS. Another lecturer has lectured in the past at LTS and at the former ETCW (now WEST). One of the lecturers pastors a church which has in its membership two of the faculty at WEST, as well as numerous students from WEST who attend the church.
As different keys fit different locks, so different courses will be suitable for different men. We rejoice in the fact that some men will find LTS, PFS, or WEST to be more suited to their needs. At the same time we acknowledge that some men will find the EMW Course is more suitable for them.
Applications will be sympathetically considered from men who are convinced that they should devote themselves to gospel ministry. The applicant’s home church will normally have to support the application. His home church will need to confirm its belief that the applicant has been born again and that he has been equipped by God in such a way as to hold out promise for future gospel ministry. Applicants must be whole-heartedly committed to the evangelical faith and be able to give unreserved assent to the Doctrinal Belief of the Evangelical Movement of Wales. (If at any time a student can no longer assent to this statement of belief, it is expected that he will make this fact known to the Principal and, if so requested, resign from the Course.)
The leadership of the Course reserve the right to turn down any application they deem unsuitable and also to suspend from the Course any student who is either not profiting from it or who, it becomes clear, is not suitable for the Course.
New students are normally admitted at the beginning of the Course year, that is, the August session.
Most students will be funded by themselves or by their home church. This being the case, every effort is made to keep the costs of the Course as low as possible. This does not mean that the quality of the teaching is substandard; rather, we wish to give the very best value for money. Further details can be obtained from the Registrar, whose address will be found on the application form attached to this prospectus.