Calvin Theological Seminary Announces Partnership with Missional Training Center

Date Published

April 17, 2024

Home / Blog / Calvin Theological Seminary Announces Partnership with Missional Training Center

Published by Calvin Seminary

Calvin Theological Seminary is excited to announce our new partnership with Missional Training Center, located in Tempe, Arizona. 

In this partnership, Calvin Seminary will oversee Missional Training Center’s curriculum, assessments, and faculty. However, this partnership between the schools is more than oversight for accreditation purposes; it is the continuation of a vibrant relationship between two like-minded institutions seeking to equip ministry leaders with biblical training and reformed theology to engage with culture and ministry in Christ-honoring ways. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits this partnership offers to both schools, as well as the unique pedagogical approach and missional focus of Missional Training Center’s educational work in Arizona.

How does this partnership benefit both institutions?

This partnership between Calvin Seminary and Missional Training Center reflects a shared mission, provides opportunities for student learning, and pedagogical development. 

Missional Training Center is “committed to developing theological education that will effectively train missional leaders in the greater Phoenix area for the realities they face in equipping God’s people to be a faithful witnessing presence in life, word, and deed in our contemporary world.” This mission aligns well with that of Calvin Seminary, which is “preparing individuals for biblically faithful and contextually effective ministry of the Word and by offering Reformed theological scholarship and counsel.” Both institutions are Reformed and committed to education that focuses on Scripture, doctrine, and practical ministry experience that help students engage congregational ministry and culture in Christ-honoring ways.

The partnership between Calvin Seminary and Missional Training Center will offer numerous involvement opportunities for students at both institutions. Some Calvin Seminary faculty have already taught at Missional Training Center. The finalization of this partnership means Missional Training Center faculty members Dr. Mark Ryan, Dr. Dave Beldman, and Dr. Mike Goheen will also have opportunities to teach Calvin Seminary students. We also anticipate the possibility of Calvin Seminary students visiting Arizona, and Missional Training Center students visiting Michigan. We’re excited about this opportunity for students at both institutions to engage with faculty members from other contexts, as well as meet other students with similar interests and a shared passion for Gospel ministry.

Another way this partnership will benefit both schools is through helping improve each other’s pedagogy. Calvin Seminary’s nearly 150 years of experience in equipping ministry leaders will aid Missional Training Center in refining their curriculum and assessments. Missional Training Center’s missional focus and creative pedagogy will help Calvin Seminary continue to reevaluate its vocational training methods to bring theological education to more communities in North America and beyond. 

What is Missional Training Center?

Missional Training Center is committed to providing theological education “to equip pastors and leaders for their missional calling” in Tempe, Arizona and the surrounding cities. 

Missional Training Center works to accomplish this mission by offering an MA in Missional Theology. Each year, Missional Training Center places students in cohorts of 12-18 members who spend four years pursuing their degree part-time so they can have a full-time job in ministry. The curriculum is taught from a missional perspective, exploring how missional ecclesiology shapes theological education in order to effectively equip church leaders. 

Missional Training Center’s theological education model focuses on five core tenets:

  • Missional curriculum: A curriculum reshaped and reframed by the centrality of mission to the nature of the church. This is not an attempt to start all over again and reject the historical traditions of the various disciplines. Rather we engage the same material and reframe it with a missional lens.
  • Connected to the local church: This allows church leadership to be involved in the theological educational process in mentoring, developing competency and skills, nurturing character, and overseeing the development of devotional practices. We do not reject institutions of theological training (seminaries) but want to work with them within the context of the local congregation.
  • Pedagogically innovative: We want to combine seminars with top-notch scholars along with communal discussion in cohorts, foster individual research and study skills, employ technology and long-distance learning, and encourage mentoring both by pastors and scholars.
  • Academically rigorous: This is not designed to be more practical, less theoretical, or less academically rigorous. We reject that theory-practice distinction. We reject the notion that academic excellence is defined by the Western university model of education.
  • Assignments: All assignments are connected to actual ministry in the local congregation.

Faculty members of Missional Training Center include Dr. Michael Goheen and others such as Dr. Tim Sheridan (Congregational Ministry) from Resonate Global Mission. The robust faculty at Missional Training Center allows students to learn from faculty members from different seminaries and backgrounds. In addition, most courses are co-taught by multiple faculty members, allowing students the opportunity to learn from more than one faculty member on a particular topic.

In addition to their partnership with Calvin Seminary, Missional Training Center also has several partnerships with local and global ministries that are focused on pastoral education and local ministry: Surge Network, The Reformed Church of Hungary, The Center for Church Planting (Campinas, Brazil), and The Presbyterian Seminary (Santiago, Chile). Missional Training Center is the fruit of Surge Network, a group of Phoenix-area pastors and leaders who desire to grow as leaders of missional congregations. Missional Training Center’s partnerships in Hungary, Brazil and Chile have opened opportunities for training sessions, courses, and dialogues about theological education and local ministry.

Missional Training Center President Rick Thiemke reflects, “We are excited that Missional Training Center can draw upon the richness of Calvin’s tradition and learning while we grow and expand. This more formalized partnership between Missional Training Center and Calvin Seminary opens up a whole other door of opportunity for mutual learning.” 

Calvin Seminary President Jul Medenblik explains, “When I think about partnerships, I always think of Philippians 1:5. I think of the Apostle Paul, who is in prison, but still thanking the Philippian church for their partnership in the gospel. Here we are some 2000 years later. What does it mean to be a partner in the Gospel? The Gospel implores us to be a community together. It focuses on recognizing that we have a story to tell that’s not just for ourselves, it’s for others. When we find people who join us in that Gospel ministry, we find people who are interested in theological education, and when you’re in partnership with one another, you go farther and farther because of that work together.” 

We are excited for this opportunity to partner with Missional Training Center, and look forward to the mutual encouragement, growth and education that will happen between the two institutions. 


Visit Calvin Theological Seminary’s Campus

We can’t wait to host you on campus! Schedule your visit today, or, if you need more time to find a date that works for you, please request information so we can continue the conversation about supporting your calling!