Opportunities in Theological Education

OMF work with many theological colleges around East Asia. Theological education for local Christians is an essential feature of discipleship, both for the individuals learning and for those they will go on to pastor. We wrote to a few of the colleges and asked them to give us an idea of what their institution is like and how people can get involved.

Singapore Bible College- Singapore

SBC was founded in 1952 by church leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and independent churches, with representatives from the Chinese Church Union, Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission, and OMF. The school’s mission statement to this day still reflects OMF’s aim of sharing the gospel with the unreached.

SBC’s current 450 students come from about 25 countries. They can study bachelor’s programs in church music, evening programs for lay training, a variety of graduate diplomas, two-year master’s programs in biblical studies and intercultural studies, the standard three-year master’s of divinity (MDiv), and the postgraduate programs of ThM and DMin.

How to be involved

To lecture at SBC candidates need a doctoral degree in their area of teaching, as well as full-time ministry experience. All teaching is done in English or Chinese. OMF workers have been part of SBC for decades, so secondment from OMF to SBC is a possibility.

Hokkaido Bible Institute 

HBI was founded by the Japanese Evangelical Association and OMF 52 years ago. It is interdenominational and serves the church in Hokkaido.

HBI doesn’t just seek to teach; it also encourages spiritual formation and pastoral training. The school’s motto is, ‘to know Jesus and to serve the church, the world, and this generation.’

HBI offers a three-year course for those preparing for full-time ministry and a one-year course for lay-people. The curriculum, covers traditional subjects, like the biblical languages and biblical book studies, and contextual courses, like Kitamori’s Pain of God; Spiritual Theology and Counselling in Japan.

HBI is small community. At present they have 12 full-time students, this number has been increasing over the years. After graduating from HBI, many students return to serve their churches, while others prepare for overseas mission.

How to be involved

Most lecturers in HBI are also pastors and some have reached retirement age and would appreciate qualified help. OMF and the Japanese Evangelical Church Association believe in a contextual approach to teaching, as a result teaching at HBI requires theological qualifications and also long-term commitment to language and cultural learning.

Seminari Theoloji Malaysia – Peter Lau

STM is about an hour from Kuala Lumpur. The seminary began as an Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Methodist joint venture in 1979.  It is an inter-denominational seminary whose aim is ‘to facilitate full-time workers and lay people to grow in Christian maturity and to train them for ministry and service through the Church.’

Full time courses are taught in Mandarin and English, and there are plans for a Bahasa Malaysia stream to start in 2018.

Most of the students are locals and the majority go on to serve local churches in Malaysia. However, graduates also work in mission, and a few return to the workplace.

The majority of lecturers have pastoral experience and some still work in their churches. Lecturers seek to incorporate spiritual formation, academic excellence and the development of ministerial skills in their teaching, while remaining contextually relevant and culturally sensitive.

How to be involved

STM lecturers need a doctorate and since teaching in English is an option, short-term opportunities are possible. However, a long-term commitment provides great benefits for faculty, staff and students, and is essential if you need to teach in a new language.

Only theologians need apply? – Ellie Perry

‘I’m often asked why a primary school teacher with a degree in English and a bit of TEFL training, is teaching in a theological seminary. What do I have to offer?

‘Well, plenty; I teach English to students who need it to read theology books and who learn best through techniques that are second nature to me as a teacher and mother of four. We live on campus, where food, cake, craft supplies, a large washing machine and a TV help foster closeness and trust with the students. When academics confuse them, they know we’ll wrestle to find a biblical answer, just like we help them think through personal issues.

‘My husband teaches counselling, which includes training in running a marriage course. As faculty members we have input through classes, leading English chapel and Bible study, supervising students’ practical placements, our ‘family group’, and a book group. As OMF workers, we can widen perspective and give advice to those with hearts to go beyond their borders.

‘Seminaries need people from many walks of life, concerned to stand firm for the gospel, disciple and train future church leaders. You don’t have a theology degree? Don’t assume that means you’re off the hook!’