Chris Bruno Posts
July 27, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
The following post is from SAET Fellow Dr. Chris Bruno, soon to be the academic of the Antioch School Hawaii and the minister of Training and Discipleship at Harbor Church. Those interested in following Chris can do so here.
Not long ago, the SAET blog hosted a friendly debate on church-based vs. institutional theological education. While this conversation will no doubt continue, I am excited to see a growing number of churches who are committed to training leaders without having to send them away for 4 years. Throughout my seminary and doctoral studies, we were aiming at being involved with a church-based theological training program in some way, but we not quite sure how that would work out.
But in God’s providence, I recently connected with a group of churches in Hawaii who are launching a church-based theological seminary. My wife and I have been out there twice now and we both feel strongly that God is calling us to partner with them. I will serve as academic dean in the Antioch School Hawaii as well as minister of Training and Discipleship at Harbor Church. Although I will be four thousand miles from Chicago, I plan to continue to be involved in the SAET and hope to contribute to our conversations on ecclesial theology. We are praying that God raises up many pastor-theologians in Hawaii for the sake of the islands and the entire Pacific Rim.
Hawaii is a beautiful place, there’s no denying that. Once you get past the tourist level, there are some pretty significant spiritual needs and opportunities. It is the only state in the union where church attendance is growing faster than the population; therefore, they need pastors with solid training. Beyond this, Hawaii is a strategic location for reaching Asia and Oceania in ways that we could not from the mainland. However, the options for theological education there are very limited. There are basically three options, none of which are ideal:
- Go to a local Bible college, which is fairly expensive with limited options;
- Go to a mainland seminary, which is expensive and usually takes leaders out of their ministries for four to five years; or
- Get an online degree, which means little or no personal contact with teachers and fellow students.
Based on this, Matt Dirks, lead pastor of Harbor Church concluded, “The result is a preponderance of leaders who have no serious theological education, and therefore struggle to accurately communicate the biblical gospel to their churches and communities.” So the need for theological education is severe, and we are excited to serve in this way.
While the pastors in Hawaii are working to fund it through the churches out there, we are also raising a financial and prayer support base on the mainland. However, Hawaii is an expensive place, so we are trusting God to provide the necessary funds for this endeavor. I am spending most of the fall raising funds for this endeavor, so if you would like to hear more, contact me at email@example.com or you can give here.
Al Mohler, the president of my “institutional seminary” recently said, “My hope is that we can put the [seminary] institution out of business. What I want to see is more godly, biblically grounded, gospel-driven local churches begin to prepare pastors, because it’s in the local church where that should primarily take place.” We are excited that God is raising up such a group of churches in Hawaii, and are excited to see how God will use this church-based, theologically-driven seminary in coming years.2 Comments