By Rev. T. B.
Another academic year begins. It’s worth asking, “Why are we doing this?” That is, to philosophize a bit about what we’re doing. A philosophy for education lies at the heart of the institution, unveiling its motivations for starting each academic year once again. It means that the stakeholders of the institution agree (at least implicitly) on what they are trying to do, why they are trying to do it, and which methods available seem best for the task.
What: The mission of RPS is to provide Christ-centered training to equip godly leaders for Christ’s church among Nepali people, who are authentic in Christian character, competent in theological knowledge, and equipped for ministry. We prepare individuals for true ministry. What does it take to be prepared for true ministry? A level of theological competence—ability to meaningfully interpret God’s revelation. But this theological competence is not measured merely in academic terms. It must be a ‘living’ competence. The theological academy always carries the double burden: nurturing the student’s character as well as their academic performance. By graduating a student, RPS says to the church community that insofar as its faculty has been able to observe, the student demonstrates a heart and competence for ministry. This competence is recognized by a love for Christ and his body, the church; by an active service to the community and church; and by a teachable spirit. Graduating students can express in words and lifestyle their belief in the gospel as it engages reality, and why they have placed all their hope in Christ alone.
Why: The vision of RPS is to (We) see Nepali Communities flourishing in the fruits of the Gospel through the labor of disciples yoked to Christ. We hope that our graduates impact Nepal and beyond with the gospel, primarily through building the church (Ephesians 4:11-16). Central to this training ministry is the equipping ministry of a theological education. A good theological education helps a student to keep their feet on theologically solid ground. That is, to recognize where they stand in a historical and worldwide ecumenical church as differentiated from cults and false religions. They gain the tools for a consistent and yet spiritual method for interpreting God’s word. They learn how to think clearly in a world of chaos—a chaos in which the church is situated and not exempt. They set up a foundation on the hope of the gospel for leading in the midst of this brokenness. A theological education does these things like perhaps nothing else can consistently do since Jesus came in the flesh. And the theological academy is so well suited for this task simply because she stands as an accountable servant to the church, Christ’s body.
How: the ‘how’ regards the methods, the tactics, and the inputs for accomplishing the goal. The apostle Paul used the image of grafting in Romans. We are grafted into Christ through faith. This metaphor can extend to the seminary: the student is one grafted into Christ and the seminary waters the plant and grafts additional branches (knowledge, skills, behaviors) for producing fruit in ministry. Some of these methods and inputs are:
- Classical curriculum components such as church history, biblical interpretation, surveys of biblical books, preaching, etc. All of these are taught in light of the Nepali context.
- In addition to the classical aspects of the curriculum, our program continues to adapt for the specific issues of ministry in Nepal, including such elements as basic community development, implementing a work-study program, a Christian Education department.
- Early Morning Prayer every day, chapels, spiritual life retreats and other curricular and extra-curricular spiritual nourishment.
- Weekend service in local churches for practical engagement.
- An increasingly strong library.
- Perhaps most important, a believing faculty of individuals, members of Christ, who along with their students continue growing into Christ our Head.