One of my all-time favorite lines of fiction is the opening to C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” That wasn’t a compliment for Eustace, and if you read on in the story you realize very quickly why it’s so. Like Eustace, I hope the Alliance for Transatlantic Theological Training deserves it’s name––but in a good way. I hope that as we build our organization, we deserve all four words that make up our name. In this blog series we want to share with you the vision behind the name by explaining what each word stands for. We’ll look at each word in turn starting with Alliance, then moving on to Transatlantic, Theological and Training.
What does Alliance mean?
To best understand Alliance we began with its dictionary definition (Oxford English of course). The OED states an alliance is:
- A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations.
- A relationship based on an affinity in interests, nature, or qualities.
- A state of being joined or associated.
These definitions connotate ‘Alliance’ as something rich and relational. Combining them leads to this definition: An Alliance is a rich commitment and partnership between two entities to achieve a common purpose.
So who are being allied together?
We began by creating alliances with churches, networks, denominations, missions agencies, theological institutions and others who share the same vision of raising up the next generation of church planters, revitalizers and leaders. AT3 is exactly what our name says we are, we are an alliance for like-minded organizations.
Everything we do is meant to create more alliances between individuals and between churches. When a student from the US joins AT3, he or she forms an alliance with a UK student as they study and train side-by-side in the same UK local church. That alliance is the foundation for the sending church of the US student and their placement church in the UK to create a rich partnership to further gospel ministry. And ultimately, the vision is for these student alliances to culminate in a network within the UK, that spans across the Atlantic to churches in the US as students go on to plant, revitalize and lead churches on both sides of the ocean.
So what is the purpose of the Alliance?
The heart behind AT3 is to strategically contribute to the strengthening of the church in the UK, and to see more people reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Quite simply, there are still thousands of people in the UK who fall outside the reach of a gospel proclaiming local church. Despite hearing many exciting stories of church planting initiatives, missional communities and church growth, there are still many churches struggling, and many closing their doors and therefore many people left to reach. I have spoken to many leaders who feel overstretched and unable to expand and grow their churches. When probed as to the reasons why, one of the recurring themes is a deficit of leaders who are equipped with both theological training and ministry experience. Another is a lack of resources. We aim to create alliances that will do something about the deficit of leaders and resources.
So why not join our alliance?
Have a look at the “Transatlantic Alliances” page on our website. See who we have the privilege of sharing rich commitment and partnership with as we work to further the building of Christ’s Church. Please begin to think and pray about whether or not the Lord is calling you or your church to join the Alliance for Transatlantic Theological Training.
Next in the series we’ll explore the word ‘Transatlantic’.
Written in 2015