Leadership Development Partnership between Advent Christian General Conference & Berkshire Christian College
ACGC and Berkshire Christian Announce Partnership to Address Leadership Crisis
Advent Christian General Conference (ACGC) and Berkshire Christian have announced the formation of a strategic partnership to address the most pressing problem in the recent history of our movement. The Berkshire board of trustees approved a partnership agreement at their May board meeting that allows the two institutions to collaborate to avert the impending leadership crisis in the denomination.
The current leadership situation is somewhat dire. Currently seven out of 10 Advent Christian pastors are at or near retirement age. Within the next five to 10 years we will need more than 150 new pastors. The Berkshire Christian board of trustees has determined that the primary focus of Berkshire Christian is to train pastors. Therefore, this new partnership offers a perfect alignment of vison, mission and values between ACGC and Berkshire Christian. The collaboration also allows for the most efficient use of capital, functional and human resources without costly redundancies.
This agreement has been born from a lengthy season of prayer and dialog. More than six months ago, ACGC invited Berkshire Christian to join them in this united effort to change the trajectory of our leadership trends. Since that time, Board Chair Mike Alix and President Dr. Glenn Rice have spent extensive time in prayer, research and conversation with ACGC Coordinator of Leadership Development Matt Larkin regarding the potential partnership. In the end, ACGC and Berkshire believe that their partnership represents the best chance to avoid the leadership crisis. The collaboration will take place primarily in the context of the Ministry Training Institute (MTI).
What is the MTI?
MTI is a 3.5 year, 60 credit, cohort-based program for training church planters, missionaries, pastors, elders, deacons and others. A cohort of students begins together each September and journeys through the year completing coursework online, meeting for Socratic symposiums that are designed to sharpen one another through dialogue and exercises, learning from experienced teachers online and through topical seminars, gaining personal experience through the apprenticeship of an approved local church and mentor and developing independent research skills by reading over 2,000 pages during the summer in their chosen track emphasis. Students accepted into the MTI program are also taken through various assessments designed to help in their character formation as they work toward the successful completion of this program by earning the Leadership in Ministry Certificate.
MTI is still in the development stage but is expected to start this fall at three strategic locations around the country (Knightdale, N.C., Oxford, Maine, Tustin, Cal.), referred to as field offices. These locations have been selected by ACGC and staffed by an ACGC-approved field office director. Field office directors will work with local churches and pastors in the identification and recruitment of potential students, gathering, training and sending these students into other local churches. Students enrolled in the MTI program remain in their local setting and current employment as they prepare for vocational ministry through the MTI program. Collaboration with local churches and pastors provides opportunity for the apprenticeship and mentoring of MTI students. By remaining where they currently live and work, they do not need to change location or incur significant indebtedness. Program costs are intentionally lower to make the MTI program more readily accessible to prospective students.
What Will This Mean for Berkshire?
This program will fit well into Berkshire Christian’s focus and can easily be accommodated in their structure by retooling one arm of their Distance Learning Program, the Local Learning Center (LLC). Since this program has not had much demand, it can easily be redesigned to accommodate the MTI program. Berkshire Christian will continue to offer its Distance Learning Program (called eBerkshire) with online courses available to individuals. Nothing will change for students currently enrolled in courses and/or certificate programs.
Through the partnership Berkshire Christian will be responsible for program promotion, student management and library development. They are making a substantial financial investment that will cover the costs associated with software, licensing fees for library access and part-time support staff to manage the program. ACGC will be responsible to promote the program, to establish and maintain the field offices and select and employ field directors.
With a clear sense of the Lord’s direction and an obedience to follow his leading we submit our collective will to the will of our Heavenly Father, trusting in his providence and resting in his gracious provision. Through this partnership opportunity it is possible that a leadership crisis that otherwise may lead to our demise as a movement and an Advent Christian people can be averted. If you would like to learn more about the Ministry Training Institute or if you or someone you know is interested in training for ministry, please visit www.acgc.us/lead or contact Coordinator of Leadership Development Matt Larkin at 704-545-6161.
Published June 5th, 2019