South west ministry training course
Ministry Training

This is the Executive Summary of the SWMTC Teaching and Learning Strategy which can be found in full by clicking here

We SWMTC: A Theological and Missiological Framework

(This is the Executive Summary of the SWMTC Teaching and Learning Strategy which can be found in full on our Virtual Learning platform for staff and students.)

1. A rounded theological anthropology

1.1 We attend in all aspects of the Course to dimensions of personhood that include the spiritual, interpersonal, intellectual and practical; and the interrelation of each with the other.
1.2 We give especial attention to context: both that of the individual student and that of the whole learning community. This results in an authentic transformation of their ministry practices as well as providing new resources for their training. Indeed, the most profound educative resource is the learning community that bears within itself the multiple transformations that God has effected in human lives and situations.
1.3 In allowing for cognitive and non-cognitive development, and as a Course committed to training candidates across the whole breadth of the Anglican tradition, and in an ecumenical spirit, we have come to understand formation as the habituation of practices orientated towards knowing God and making God known.
1.4 Our gift of personhood and our calling ‘in Christ’ involve loving God with heart, soul, strength and mind (Lk. 10.27); thus the content of SWMTC’s formation has four vectors: Christian Scripture, Christian Thinking, Christian Ministry and Christian Worship. We seek to engender and ensure competency in all these areas in the life of each individual candidate, and in our communal life, to the interrelation of each thread and their weaving into a whole that embraces the intellectual, practical and spiritual.
1.5 The ministry candidate whose call as a baptized Christian is being radicalized by a call to representative ministry needs to grow like an olive tree in the house of God (Ps. 52.8). The Christian imagination transforms this psalmic image by grounding this growth in Christ. Each tree must develop good roots in Christ, must learn helpful symbiosis with the trees that grow around it. It must learn how to flourish in the Church, and it must grow in the means to reach out with others into the world as an agent of God’s mission. All this is part of the ongoing process of new creation (2. Cor 5.17) which we read not as a once-off event but as a lifelong process.

2. A mission that flows from the heart of God

2.1 ‘Mission is the whole Church proclaiming the whole Christ to the whole world.’ (The Mission and Ministry of the Whole Church, p. 56). To set forth our understanding of the mission which the Church of God is called will always demand profound recognition of the fact that the Church of God proclaiming Christ to all the world demands a personal response to the Christ who has cleared a space in this world for the community called to be his body – the Church.
2.2 The minister is called, in radicalization of the basic baptismal call, to be a leader, encourager and enabler of the functioning of that body for the working-out of the mission of God. To be such a missional minister means to be able to inhabit the culture of the ecclesia without being trapped in it; to interpret the world to the church without being seduced by it; thereby to empower communities to serve and witness to the Crucified One who is Lord of both church and world.
2.3 It means working, and living, towards the imperatives of the Five Marks of Mission – praying with longing the mystery of ‘Thy Kingdom come’, stressing continually the minister as teacher and enabler of others in their discipleship, modelling and inculcating good pastoral practice (including the recognition of the place of failure in the life of the pastor), and including as a central concern (and worked example of doctrine and ethics in practice) issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
2.4 For the Church ‘to proclaim afresh in each generation’ the good news of the gospel requires the taking from the treasure-store ‘what is new and what is old’ (Mt. 13.52). It requires the development of a form of virtuous perception and disciplined improvisation that yet remains a faithful witness to the action of God. It requires then a sort of contemplative insight, just as it requires a level of technical competency.
2.5 In all we seek to do and be God’s grace comes first. But to live in Christ, for Christ, and hence to serve him in whatever contexts of missional opportunity, whether it be the making of disciples (Mt. 28) or the loving attention to the vulnerable and forgotten (Mt. 25), is still a positive choice. The working-out of this choice under the guidance of the Spirit enables us to ‘give an account’ of our hope with gentleness (1. Peter 3.15-16).

3. The development of vision, aims & ethos

3.1 SWMTC’s mission is to provide formation for Christian ministry and promote Christian understanding of the world.
3.2 Within that overall aim, the primary aim of our ministerial training programmes is to form women and men for an ever-deepening participation in the mission of the triune God in the world.
3.3 The Course does not train candidates in a vacuum but within a network of local churches upon which we depend, and which keeps us very close to the realities and demands of ministry today and tomorrow.
3.4 The Course promotes an ethos that is resolutely focused on the ‘end’ of theological education: the service of local Christian communities. Our formation is intended not to promote the acquisition of theoretical knowledge or to frontload leadership competencies but to nurture people in a Christ-like wisdom concerning how to lead and enable Christian communities in a variety of ways.

4. Worship, respect and care at our core

4.1 SWMTC seeks to be a place in which students and staff alike are continually formed as disciples of God, called to particular vocations in his kingdom. Our ethos is focussed on the corporate working-out of what it is that God calls us to be, as a community and as individuals. We put worship, respect and care, a need for authenticity in our relationships, and inclusiveness at the core of all that we do.
4.2 In our corporate worship we focus our attention on the God whom we are learning to love and serve. Through it we offer our lives to God and search for God's living word to us. In it we express and find our identity as SWMTC, a particular community of the people of God.
4.3 SWMTC is an environment in which relationships are characterised by openness to the other, and a deep mutuality. We value the experience of all our students and staff, and recognise the unique contribution they make to our corporate life. Yet we encourage everyone who is a part of our community to be open to God’s transforming grace, and to the chance of being changed through our encounters with one another, and the risen Christ. With this in mind, interaction is at the heart of what we do in community.
4.4 At the heart of our approach is a commitment to authenticity. We are committed to empowering our students, and staff, to be more fully the creature that God intends them to be. SWMTC hopes to engender a culture in which people are confident in offering their own viewpoints, and being themselves, knowing that they do so in a spirit of love, mutuality and respect.
4.5 Thriving communities are life-giving, but they can have an ugly underside: those who do not feel as if they fully belong to the community can become isolated, and unhappy. At SWMTC, we recognise that God’s kingdom is inclusive, and work hard to fight discrimination, among our students and within the wider church.
4.6 SWMTC has developed an approach to formation that marries serious engagement with a range of contexts to rigorous academic theological study and regular periods of residence. Our experience is that students find this rewarding, stimulating, and empowering for their future ministries, whether as Deacons, Presbyters or Readers. It is the hope of the staff team to model, and help form in our students, a ministry that is both theologically informed and practically grounded. The sacraments provide a touchstone here, of course, for they are both symbols of this world and carriers of God’s grace.

SWMTC: Contact: Administrator Belinda Speed-Andrews on 01392 272544
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