Global Associates for Transformational Education (GATE) Ministry exists to enable Majority World theological educators to equip church leaders in ways that are appropriately contextual, genuinely transformational, and biblically grounded. GATE’s programs have been primarily conducted in Eastern and Central Europe, but have now been introduced in Asia and requested by theological educators in Africa and the Middle East as well.
In Budapest, Hungary, in 2003, a gathering of about thirty pastors and seminary leaders dialogued with a team of educators from the USA. The consensus among the East Europeans was that current theological education is not adequately equipping pastors to meet the needs of the church, to address the problems of culture, nor to speak relevantly to the emerging generation. The meeting was summarized by Nik Nedelchev, then President of Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and currently President of the European Evangelical Alliance: “We imported the best theological education models from the West and they are not doing the job of training our pastors.” Although Nedelchev states graphically the experience of these East Europeans, the problem is not regional; it exists throughout the Majority World.
The GATE Strategy
GATE originated as a team of four educators: Duane Elmer (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Ralph Enlow (Association for Biblical Higher Education), Robert Ferris (Columbia International University, Emeritus), and John Lillis (Bethel Seminary, San Diego). All are theologically trained, have earned doctorates in education, hold teaching and leadership positions in theological schools, and have extensive cross-cultural experience. Moreover, all are dedicated to apprenticing Majority World educators who will extend GATE training in their own regions.
GATE’s strategy is to introduce “best practice” educational models and methods and to lead majority world educators to reflect theologically on these strategies and current practice. This is accomplished through a series of workshops which are characterized by:
- Four-year commitment from influential theological schools to participate in annual, three-day faculty development workshops, increasing the probability of long-term sustainable change
- Participation by a critical mass of faculty and administrators from each school, increasing the probability of change in the institutional culture;
Participation by multiple faculties, engendering greater fellowship and cooperation among evangelical theological educators; and,
- A workshop format which models a dynamic blend of presentation and learning tasks, leading to personal and institutional transformation.
- At the end of each workshop, participants set individual and institutional goals for the year ahead;
- Participants implement new ideas and methods and attest to positive effects in their context;
- Demand for workshops increases as people observe benefits for equipping ministry leaders;
- Participants express ownership, recognizing that changes are self-determined rather than externally imposed;
- Participants affirm that working with peers from other schools breaks down barriers and builds camaraderie;
- Majority World educators have been and continue to be identified as GATE associates.