There are three main reasons for experimenting with this concept:
1. To fill a gap in Christian education. Currently there is no systematic Christian learning between the local church Sabbath school class and degree based schooling. For church members who want to mature past what their local church offers (which is generally extremely limited), the only real possibilities are a college/university programme, or to attend an independent programme in another part of the world. We believe this is a gap that people are longing to be filled.
2. To concentrate on learning that matures faith. In John Westerhoff’s classic book, Will Our Children Have Faith?, Westerhoff suggests that Christian education has largely copied the secular educational system which has traditionally focused on the methods to transmit information, while nurturing faith requires a different approach. So rather than concentrating on classroom-based learning, the citySeminary is focused on providing a framework for spiritual learning that takes place in the many different aspects of our lives.
3. To provide a tool for united city-focused mission. There can be a tendency for churches to operate individually from each other, even though they work in the same city. The citySeminary serves as mechanism for developing a more united work together.
The logo helps to further explain this concept.
The “city” part of the name indicates its city-based function, where individual churches and their leaders have easy access to each other. Mark Finley recently quoted Elton Trueblood who believes that churches of the future should be “reconstructed into the pattern of a small theological seminary, with the pastor as the professor” (Incendiary Fellowship.) Ellen White further notes that “In every city there should be a city mission that would be a training school for workers” (Letter 56, 1910. MM 303-4).
The “Seminary” part of the name indicates the idea of systematic Christian (discipleship) education.
The tagline “until Christ is formed in you” which is a quote from Galatians 4:19, indicates God’s purposes for us, and the focus of our work for God. It is when Christ is authentically revealed in a believer’s life that witness and mission is successful.
The lighthouse in the letter “i” of “city” reveals the spiritual light that the seminary gives within its city. This echos Paul’s urging the Philippians to “shine like stars in the universe as you hold out a the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16) and Ellen White’s idea of “city missions” being “steady lights, shining amid the moral darkness” (Fundamentals of Education, 121).
1. Curriculum-based discipleship learning. Discipleship learning is based on a vision that links the spiritual formation process of being re-formed in the image of Jesus to mission. Discipleship is a process, and having curriculum based learning helps to foster the achievement of specific, measurable outcomes, while keeping the mission focus of discipleship. In Dublin, we are working according the following vision that will shape our curriculum:
As our greatest desire is to honour God by revealing the beauty of his character in our city, we are learning how to be ever more closely re-formed in His image, becoming cross-cultural missionaries who are passionately searching to bring others into an intimate communion which we enjoy with Jesus.
2. Team pastoral ministry. Pastors work across the different churches in the city and are not rooted to specific churches. This enables pastors to work inside of their spiritual gifts. It also requires the strengthening of elders as local church leaders. Each city church receives the benefit of the best leadership exercised by the team of pastors. By working as a pastoral team, this provides encouragement for individual pastors. This relies on churches being within easy reach of one-another.
3. Co-ordination of all city churches for united mission. The citySeminary provides the organisational mechanism for united mission within the city, rather than churches working independently from each other. Churches working together provides something greater than merely the sum of the parts.
4. Nurturing and training of local church departments. The citySeminary is also local training structure for the joint nurturing of church departmental leaders. For example, all elders can be trained together rather than each church running their own programme.
5. Core ministries. The citySeminary provides the coordination for core ministries. Such ministries are accessible to all churches, which may not be feasible to run in a single local church. For example, teen ministries, where each local church may only have a few teens but a teen ministry is feasible if run centrally for all churches to access.
The following video describes where we are in the process so far.