School of Biblical Studies

Background

Training will always be one of the great needs of the Church at home and abroad. In the early days of its existence the EMF had to face up to this challenge. As a result the Mission commenced, in the 1960’s a two-year course known as ‘The School of Biblical Studies’. With the move to the present headquarters in 1981, it was decided to review the purpose of the School. The outcome was a shorter course suited to those interested in evangelism and church-planting at home and overseas.

It was apparent that students from abroad should be targeted as they had little opportunity to receive training that was both evangelical and reformed. The course was shortened in order to keep costs to a minimum and to ensure that the overseas students were not kept away from their own environment for too long. Even so, a twenty-six weeks course crept up to thirty weeks to provide more time to cope with a very demanding schedule.

From 2010 further change was needed because of new Government regulations for issuing visas to overseas visitors who wish to enter the United Kingdom in order to study. We do not want to restrict the availability of the course to applicants from countries not needing a visa. Therefore, to meet the requirements for receiving students on ‘Student Visitor’ visas, two changes have been introduced. EMF is now accredited by the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education and, secondly, the course itself has been shortened so as to be completed within a six month period. The course runs from January to July each year.

If further study is desired then either the London Theological Seminary (LTS) or Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST) is recommended. In fact the traffic is two ways with some students coming to us to fill out the preparation already begun. Those who have completed both courses testify to their complementary nature.

The Course

As we are situated in Europe and the vast majority of the students come from the continent, much of what is covered has a decidedly European flavour. Thus Church History focuses on Europe in particular. To help to provide Biblical and rational answers to some of the most common questions raised in our secular and multi-religious environment a practical course in apologetics is undertaken. For similar reasons attention is given to the cults, world religions and ethics.

However, our main concern is not simply to defend the faith but to promote the positive proclamation of the gospel. To fulfil this obligation there is a need to grasp the content of the Bible and the basic principles to be adopted in seeking to be faithful to this charge. An historical survey of the Bible is given together with lectures in systematic theology and hermeneutics. There is an introductory course in New Testament Greek. With the emphasis on missionary work, another vital area concerns the biblical principles that ought to govern our practice of evangelism, church-planting and pastoral work. In view of the current confusion even among evangelicals on this issue, it is believed that such an understanding is crucial to the kind of work, which ought to be carried out as the gospel is preached and churches established.

In addition to the weekly schedule of fifteen hours of lectures, there is an essay to be completed most weeks and other practical exercises. Involvement in local church life is by participation in the regular activities of the Evangelical Church in Welwyn as well as visits to other churches. Although examinations are not part of our requirements, high standards of work are expected with the essays being rigorously marked and graded. Alongside the study and the discipline this instils is the expectation that there will be the cultivation of a spiritual mind and heart.

The Staff

A crucial part of any school is its staff. Its success or failure is bound up with their knowledge and enthusiasm. Over the years the Lord has supplied lecturers of proven ability and experience. Most of them are either pastors or have had considerable pastoral and/or evangelistic experience. As much as possible we try to draw upon those with specialized knowledge in a given field.

Therefore, some join us for a morning or two in order to pass on the benefits of their particular sphere of interest. Others complete a series of studies sometimes involving six weekly visits or more. We are indebted to the lecturers for their commitment and co-operation and, in many cases, that of their churches as well.

The Students

What about those who attend? The short answer is anyone with the time and the support of their local church may apply. This latter feature is crucial. It is vital that each student comes with the recommendation of their local church that recognise in them either the call of God to some specific service or an ability to benefit themselves and others in the work of the gospel as a result of their studies. The majority of those who come have some sense that God is calling them to some form of Christian service involving evangelism. A fair number of these feel that God is calling them to missionary work in Europe.

Nevertheless, attendance at the School of Biblical Studies does not mean automatic membership of the European Missionary Fellowship. Although it is normally expected that anyone wishing to work with the EMF will complete the course, applications to join the School and the Mission are deliberately kept quite separate. If at the end of the course students believe they are being called by God to this work they may apply and proper consideration is given to their application.

Then again, a small proportion of students want to take the opportunity of setting aside a period of time to concentrate their minds on a course of study, which will sharpen their grasp of Biblical Christianity. The expectation is that this will enable them to be more faithful in their own life and witness and more useful in the life of the local church.

There are no formal academic requirements for application but students must demonstrate that they have a level of English equivalent to a minimum of Band 6 on the IELTS scale.

General

We are able to continue to provide this training due to the goodwill and support of Churches and individuals in the UK. This means that full or part-sponsorship of student places is available, although we encourage students and their churches to contribute as they are able. The course lasts for six months and runs from January to June. Most students live in Guessens for its duration, although some travel in on a daily basis. There are even some who apply to join for a particular aspect of the course, but these usually live locally and are admitted at the discretion of the Principal.

During the years it has existed the School has had the pleasure of welcoming people from many different countries. In addition to the British, we have enjoyed fellowship with men and women from such diverse countries as Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Haiti, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Moldova, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States of America. Some have gone on to work for EMF or have joined other societies. The pastoral ministry has received some, while others returned to their former employment and church life. Much encouragement has been derived from the spectacle of such diverse nationalities living and learning together in harmony. It is noticeable that many who have been here maintain contact with and interest in the EMF. The hope is, with the improved access to a wider Europe, the School of Biblical Studies may continue to have a useful role in helping the cause of the gospel by preparing men and women for Christian service.

Please write or email if you are interested in studying at the School and would like to receive an information pack and application forms.

Curriculum

  • Church History
  • Contemporary Studies (Apologetics, Creation and Evolution, Ethics)
  • Historical Survey of the Bible
  • New Testament Greek
  • Pastoral Theology (Hermeneutics, Homiletics, Pastoral Theology)
  • Systematic Theology
  • World Mission and Evangelism (Cults and World Religions, Principles of Evangelism; Principles of Mission)
 

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