“People have gained a love for God’s word and a passion for theology. We worship in a deeper way now.”
“There’s been a deeper appreciation of the whole Bible story for those on the course.”
“It’s a really excellent course which we aim to require anyone to complete to be an elder in our church.”
“Having three elders in training do the course has been a great way to strengthen team.”
“It has emboldened and encouraged participants to engage with others in sharing the gospel.”
“Some participants have gleaned insight into possible callings on their lives, with two in particular wishing to study theology formally.”
“For our staff study group the course has fostered some fantastic discussion, brought new insights, and has been a great team building time away from ‘function.’”
“The course is easy to roll out and provides great content.”
These are just some of the comments from the 30 churches in Advance that have been running the Advance Theology Course (ATC). For a course that was launched less than two years ago, the uptake has been impressive, especially when one considers the challenges of the global pandemic and the lockdowns that we’ve been faced with.
Currently 476 people are participating in 53 ATC study groups in 23 Advance churches. In addition, another 23 participants from 4 Advance churches have already completed the course. At the moment, a further 6 churches have had to pause their ATC programmes due to Covid lockdowns.
ATC has been intentionally designed to help equip elders, leaders and church planters for the ministry of the Word. So far, 8 Advance churches have created ATC study groups specifically for leaders and potential leaders, and the feedback from these groups has been very positive. The majority of the ATC study groups have accommodated any who have expressed interest in growing in their understanding of the Bible. For each of the 33 sessions in the ATC programme that takes one on a journey right through the Old and New Testaments, there are portions of Scripture to read, a video to view which is presented by Andrew Wilson, and notes and discussion questions which Jon Marshall has provided.
The aim is to be reading and studying the Bible in community. Consequently, participants are part of a study group that meets every week or two to pray, worship and discuss the Bible readings and the teaching on a particular section of Scripture. Unfortunately, Covid lockdowns have meant that most study groups have had to go online rather than meeting in person. A few churches have paused their ATC programmes because of these lockdowns. In some contexts not all participants have internet access, or churches have needed to make data available to participants who would otherwise not be able to continue online. Yet, thankfully, most programmes have continued during the global pandemic.
Here is a tally of the numbers currently involved in ATC study groups:
- In the USA there are 23 participants in 4 study groups, while a further 22 people have already completed the course, and 6 Advance churches are involved.
- In the UK there are 85 participants in 7 study groups, while 1 person has already completed the course, and 8 Advance churches are involved (two of which have paused their ATC programme for the moment).
- In East Africa there are 28 participants in an online study group that serves the Advance churches in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Madagascar.
- In South Africa there are 340 participants in 41 study groups, and 16 Advance churches are involved (three of which have paused their ATC programme for the time being due to the lockdown).
Many of the current ATC study groups will complete the course in 2021, and some of these churches are already planning to launch further groups. Another 8 Advance churches have expressed their intentions to launch ATC study groups for the first time in 2021.
It’s exciting to see the gathering momentum and to realise that this investment, as people grow in their biblical knowledge and understanding, is bound to yield much fruit across the Advance family of churches in the coming years!
Dave Adams, ATC administrator
Read more about the Theology Course here.