How international research helped to shape how Crosslands operates today
Early in our life, marketing company House Communications helped us conduct a feasibility study gauging the appeal of in-context provision of theological training and resources to churches and church leaders in the UK, Europe and 10:40 window.
House contacted ‘gatekeepers’ (key leaders within the Acts 29, Oak Hill and European evangelical constituencies) and completed in-depth interviews with over 20 church and ministry leaders in China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, France, Greece, Italy, Nigeria, the Republic of Ireland the UK.
Here is what we found:
- Evangelical Christians in Western Europe aren’t nearly as interested in learning as their leaders would like! Unless they were in an explicitly church-planting scenario, most leaders had no idea of the training their congregation members were undertaking and where they were aware, there is a wide variation in the appetite for learning using books, distance learning and lectures, but church leaders do not have time to construct bespoke courses for those that want to study.
- Evangelical Christians in other parts of the world are voracious learners, where materials exist. By contrast, those outside Western Europe supplement their sermon diet and home group meetings with further study, although this is restricted in many places by availability and language.
- Character, conviction and competence develop in different ways. Conviction can be accelerated in residential training scenarios, giving a profound understanding which can last a lifetime. But formation of godly character and the virtues of leadership take time and cannot be rushed. Books and distance learning are unreliable training tools until they are combined with the interpersonal by
- Bottom-up training is the norm. When churches do have a culture of looking for and training pastors or church planters, the small group supplemented by personal study was the usual way of doing this. This allows tailoring to the local context in terms of time, intensity and content.
- Training providers are chosen based on who trusts whom. The choice of providers for theological education does not depend primarily on proximity and cost, but on confidence that senior pastors and ministers have in those running the course.
- Ability to pay varies globally. In Western Europe, it is possible to ask church members to fund their own training of the courses. But further afield, part of the pastor’s job is to fundraise to support their own training meaning that conventional fees don’t work in these situations because it can become unaffordable.
These conclusions helped shape Crosslands into what it is today – Created by Acts 29 and Oak Hill College, we aim to provide excellent in-context theological training and resources for churches and church leaders in the UK, Europe and 10:40 window.
The table below lays out how these are direct responses to what we learnt:
Our thanks to House Communications for their hard work in helping us reach these conclusions.