My wife brought my attention to a post of the Affinity website about the training of ministers. She noted that there was a very helpful comment by Helen Thorne or London City Mission and suggested that I contact Helen to interview her for my blog series. Helen has kindly agreed to take part.
1) Please introduce yourself and your role at London City Mission
My name is Helen Thorne and I’m the Director of Training and Mentoring at London City Mission.
2) Tell us a little about London City Mission
London City Mission was founded in 1835 with the specific remit of taking the Good News of Jesus to the people of London, especially the poor. The Industrial Revolution created slums where many people lived in physical and spiritual poverty, London City Mission was established to bring them true and lasting hope. Today, our missionaries continue to work among the “least-reached” communities of our capital city – serving alongside local churches to share Jesus with those living on deprived estates, those from other cultures / faiths, those living or working on the streets and those caught up in gang or prison-life.
It’s an exciting ministry but not an easy one so we are committed to offering high-quality training to our staff and to local churches who share a passion for the lost. For newer Christians, we offer a 2-year, one day a week “Foundation Course” covering the basic biblical theology and practical evangelism needed for urban ministry. For more mature Christians, we offer our 2-year, one day a week “Urban Mission Course” which looks at biblical, historical, doctrinal and practical aspects of city mission in more depth. We work in partnership with Moorlands College and The Message Trust to offer a short course in “Christian Community Development and Evangelism” and are the London Hub for Union School of Theology’s Graduate Diploma in Theology. Each year we run a 5-day summer school in urban mission, a series of Practical Evangelism Training days and a range of Muslim Engagement Training courses too.
Our flagship course is our Pioneer Programme. Open to younger Christians from deprived backgrounds who may have few educational qualifications, we offer a 2-year, 3-day a week programme which enables people to access training while staying rooted in their local church. The programme includes lectures, mentoring, practical experience alongside one of our missionaries and a chance to spearhead a pioneering gospel-centred project in their local area.
3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?
All our courses are part-time which means people can stay serving in their local church and work around their studies.
4) How do London City Mission students fund their studies?
We keep our courses low-cost – and there are reduced rates for the retired, unemployed and those working in self-supporting ministry roles so most people can pay fees from their earnings. The Pioneer Programme is unique in that we pay people to train with us! Places are limited to about 10 a year but we love to serve local churches in this way.
5) Does London City Mission take students from overseas?
Usually our students are already living within commuting distance of London. International students who are interested in courses – particularly the summer school – should contact the training department for more details.
6) What type of ministry is London City Mission intended to prepare students for?
All our courses are designed to equip people for mission within the least-reached communities of the city. Our students range from new Christians with no qualifications to pastors who want to supplement their degrees – it’s a wonderful mix of people who can sharpen each other well.
7) When students leave London what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into?
Our aim is to equip people to serve where they are. We are passionate about training our own staff and volunteers – we are passionate about training people who want to serve better within their local church. A few of our students go off to serve in other mission agencies too and it’s a privilege to have equipped them.
8) What is distinctive about what London City Mission offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?
Our focus on part-time courses that concentrate on reaching the least-reached communities in our urban setting, welcome people with no prior learning and leave people embedded in their local chur
ch is a pretty unique combination. We hope and pray that’s a great spur to the church’s call to “equip the saints for works of service”
9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.
We’re working on the establishment of an Urban Mission library … but we’re not quite there yet!
10) Does London City Mission offer a distance or on-line learning option?
Check back in 2019!