'When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.'
2 Tim 4 v 13
A friend I work with has started to study theology at St Mellitus and if you wonder who on earth St Mellitus is this is the story. St Mellitus was birthed out of HTB and is one of the many extraordinary ministries and initiatives that are having a global impact that have had their start there. Among these are Alpha, The Marriage Course (which is now being run in China authorised by the Government), the Wilberforce Trust with its work in social transformation and the excellent God at work course which we took some of our church through last year (written by Ken Costa).
The things God is doing through St Mellitus and the St Paul's Theological Centre excite me because it is making theology accessible to huge numbers of people who may not ever have considered it. Maybe that's you?
Recently, I was discussing the story of Martin Luther with my friend who is now writing an essay on Justification by Faith. He is being tutored by Graham Tomlin who used to work at my old Vicar Factory and wrote a very helpful introduction to him called Luther and his world. By the way, if you want to know about Luther and wonder why he is such an important dude (which everyone should want to know:) you could always watch this talk called 'The role of Scripture and the Life of Luther' by Timothy George. If you watch this and then get the bit between your teeth for more reading this is a good starter kit on the Reformation. Everyone I think should explore the doctrine and man upon which the Reformation hung.
Too often, certainly in the C of E, theology is the preserve of those in a dog-collar and a dress with letters after their name and if the Reformation, with all its imperfections (as I am discovering), was about anything it was about a desire to make the gospel and scripture and, by extension of this, theology accessible to all. Isn't it great that in the heart of London and, wonderfully as part of the C of E, people from all walks of life ('the laity' as we ontologically changed folks like to refer to you.....:) can now commit to study theology and grow both in their love of God and knowledge of him (Romans 12:2) They can do this while also being rooted in the context of their local churches.
You can enrol as an independent student and study part time or do your ordination training through the college. They have accredited courses if you want letters after your name and are being Rev'd up or why not explore the School of Theology as an option for some first study. This is worth thinking about if you lead a church and have people in your churches who would like to study or are sensing a calling-point them here. A 'dip your toe in' for some of you might be to take a module or two? If you are a worship leader you might like to check out the Worship Academy or for youth leaders there is this great course.
In 'Why Plant Churches?' I suggested the need for a seismic shift in the way people are trained and equipped given these latest depressing vital statistics (Do read this). I agree with David Keen that at some point soon someone must have the courage to blow the whistle and call time on the old system in order to usher in the new. Amidst the gloom though there is much to be encouraged by in so many churches across the land and in the C of E in particular. There is so much new hopeful creative thinking around planting and grafting currently and lots of prayer going on. As it so happens, I will be starting a wee bit of study at St Mellitus from January-sharpen the saw and all that. 'Why plant churches?' might be a bit more than a blog post I pray. I do believe there's life in the old girl C of E yet.
As a final aside, I gave my pal Tony Reinke's new book called Lit!: The christian guide to reading books to aid him in his studies which is a good accessible introduction on how to read books so that you get the best out of them. You might want to get hold of it.