The Wesley Institute Of Bible and Ministry Training
What is the Wesley Institute?
One of the original purposes of Light of Life Ministry (LOLM) was to write a foundational series of eight studies consisting of twelve lessons each that would lead a person from a basic understanding of God to the place of experiencing what it means to be conforming to the image of Christ. These eight studies included both academic and practical applications in the life of a Christian. While these eight studies are still at the core of the LOLM program, there have recently been added to these courses an additional twenty-two courses for a total of thirty studies that are now being written and/or compiled for this revised program to be complete (see chart of current studies being developed).
Without going into all the details as to how this came about, suffice it to say that Jim Jones was asked by Dr. John Hucks, Jr., then President of The Southern Methodist Church, to consider if LOLM would be able to develop a program that could be used by the SMC to meet the need for the training of laity in our churches as well as advanced courses to train clergy who desire ministerial advancement but have not been able to receive formal college ministry training (such as that received at the Southern Methodist College).
After several revisions the Six Year Bible and Ministry Training Program was presented to the General Conference Board of Administration (GCBOA) during its March 2009 meeting. This Continuing Education Unit (CEU) program was reviewed and approved to be the official lay ministry training method for the SMC as well as an accepted and endorsed program for ministerial advancement of clergy not able to attend the Southern Methodist College or other institutes of Biblical and ministerial training. In 2011 this program was again revised into a three level training program and named The Wesley Institute of Bible and Ministry Training. It officially became a division of Southern Methodist College at the Fall 2011 meeting of the College Board of Directors. Subsequently, Jim was given the position of Continuing Education Director of SM College over the Wesley Institute program.
As of 2014 there are seven of the thirty courses in print with several additional manuscripts nearing completion. Seventeen Wesleyan Arminian educators have been enlisted for this vast writing project, many of whom have a Doctorate degree in the area of Bible and/or ministry for which they are writing. There are currently plans to have each lesson recorded and made available online for those not able to be in an established Institute. The program is also available for Ministerial Advancement for those ministers seeking to progress in their respective ordaining organization. And while the standard measure of credit awarded for successful completion of these courses is the Continuing Education Unit (CEU), for those who would desire college credit, this is also possible through Southern Methodist College. To sum it up, the Wesley Institute program will soon be available in a local church classroom setting, an on-line self study approach, or even as a means to acquire college credit.
Why is the Wesley Institute Bible and Ministry Training program needed?
The need for Bible and ministry training among Christians is not in question. Knowledge of God’s Word and training for ministry have always been and will continue to be a function of the Church. LOLM is considered a “parachurch ministry.” This simply means that it is a ministry that comes alongside the local church to help it carry out some specific purpose or work for which it has a biblical responsibility. While Bible Colleges have served in the training of “professional” ministers, the majority of church laity does not receive this same organized and systematic approach to Bible study and ministry training in the local church. Paul states in Ephesians 4:12 that part of the work of the pastor-teacher is to prepare the saints for the work of the ministry. These training centers will help to accomplish this need for “preparing the saints” in the church. In addition it will also help to prepare those called into professional ministry who might not be able to receive a Bible college or Seminary education. Below are ten important biblical reasons why this training is needed in the church (order is not indicative of importance).
Ten Biblical Reasons to have the Wesley Institute Available for Your local Church.
1. To help believers become “approved unto God” through the study of the Word. (2 Tim 2:15)
2. To increase one’s faith through the hearing and understanding of the Word. (Rom 10:17)
3. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our God by diligently seeking Him. (Heb 11:6)
4. To gain victory over sin by hiding His Word in our hearts. (Psalm 119:11)
5. To learn how to effectively use the Sword of the Spirit in our spiritual warfare. (Eph 6:17)
6. To have the Gifts of the Spirit “stirred up” within us and used within the church. (2 Tim 1:6)
7. To prepare the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the Body. (Eph 4:12)
8. To train believers to apply their faith through practical works. (James 2:18-26)
9. To bring Christians into the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:2-4)
10. To teach conservative Bible believing Christians our Christian heritage (who we are), our Wesleyan-Arminian doctrines (what we believe), and most importantly our Biblical foundations (why we believe as we do). (I Pet 3:15)
If these are important to you as a believer, then you need to be a part of this ministry!