Let’s start with the good news. The Church of Jesus Christ is growing rapidly in many places of the world.
As a result, new pastors need theological education so they can lead their churches and stay on course with sound doctrine.
Internet and mobile phone technology now creates the means to distribute this critical training to the pastors who need it at the time they need it most.
But here’s the problem. Most new pastors and many new churches don’t want training that has not been certified by a regionally recognized accreditation board. In North America, The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is the recognized authority for accreditation of theological schools. Not many churches will hire a pastor who did not graduate from an ATS accredited school.
Accreditation boards have not yet caught up to where Internet and mobile phone technology has brought us. They are still regional, and they focus on certifying particular institutions. Educational institutions are the INPUTS of education. They are not the desired outcomes.
As a result of how the current accreditation system works, each educational institution develops their own curriculum and courses. Most of the time they produce all their own class material as well. Then they pay highly educated professors to distribute that training in a very expensive environment. Air conditioning, buildings, libraries, heat, dorms, etc. all cost a lot of money. Tuition rarely covers the entire expense of a student’s education. Foundations, governments, or other sources of income help most schools offset this loss.
What if we created an outcome-based accreditation system that focused on an individual’s educational OUTCOMES? If we did this, we wouldn’t have to focus on certifying particular institutions. Instead we would focus on whether a student possesses the academic outcomes required for a certain field of knowledge. This would allow each student to acquire the education they need without all the high cost of acquiring it in the traditional way (at a school).
Back to pastors. If each seminary continues producing all their own educational material and distributing it to students in the expensive environment of school campuses, we will never be able to train all the new pastors who are ready right now to lead new churches.
If we can switch to an individually focused outcome-based accreditation system, then we can use the leverage of Internet and mobile phone technology to distribute educational training at a rate and at a price that can keep up with Church growth.
With a new accreditation system we can see a more rapid spread of the gospel!
This is one of the major shifts we hope to accomplish with our mLearning Project. Yes, it’s ambitious.