Edinburgh Bible College buildings silhouette

Ecclesial Training

EBC is committed to a training that is accountable to, and in partnership with, local churches

Icon for an EBC Distinctive: Ecclesial trainingAt EBC

  • our governing Board is made up of representatives of local churches and our governing documents constrain us to be accountable to the local church
  • ‘full-time’ Diploma students will only be accepted in consultation with, and with the full agreement of, their home church
  • the leadership of students’ home churches will be provided with regular updates and reports on their student’s progress and, wherever practical, involved in the training
  • those students who live away from their home church will be placed in and committed to a local evangelical church during their time at college
  • a large proportion of the teaching and training will be done by church leaders and other Christian workers, experienced in their own fields of service

Ecclesial– I admit it’s not the best known word in the world, but it is a real word and it is vastly better than ecclesiastical. Most importantly of all it highlights a key aspect of the vision and burden of Edinburgh Bible College which is to work with and serve the church of Christ.

At EBC we take the local church very seriously. The church is God’s agent for world evangelisation and the primacy of the local church is fundamental

That means that in practice there needs to be a strong relationship and partnership between the local church and the training institution so that the church can play its part and exercise its primary authority and the training institution can do what very few churches can adequately do themselves, but do so with accountability to local churches and for ecclesial rather than academic ends.

In this relationship,

the local church is best at and responsible for:

  • initial discipling and training
  • recognising and developing spiritual gifts
  • assessing any call to, and potential for, ministry

while the training institution is probably best at

  • providing a breadth of biblical, doctrinal, historical and practical training by those with breadth of experience
  • providing a community of, and facilities for, learning on a bigger scale
  • providing recognised and credible learning qualifications where these are needed

For the partnership to work well,

the local church should

  • expect accountability and insist on a meaningful partnership with those to whom it delegates the training of its members
  • ensure that all major decisions are made jointly
  • recognise and affirm the special role of the training institution

while the training institution should

  • have a purpose statement with a strong commitment to the primacy of the local church in the purposes of God
  • have procedures and policies that constrain it to act in a meaningful partnership with the home churches of its students
  • ensure that the students are involved in and committed to a local church while away from their home church
  • provide a training that is primarily delivered by ecclesially minded rather than academically minded teachers

If you are a church leader, with responsibility for helping someone make a decision about going to Bible College, or if you are a potential student, exploring the possibilities of training, let me encourage you to explore these areas when you do your research about courses and training institutions.