Online Theological Training Workshop

Two of NetACT’s associate members, the *Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life ( https://www.ocrpl.org/ ) and the Barnabas Fund (ttps://barnabasfund.org/ ) invited 200 members of NetACT to attend a free zoom-workshop from 27 to 29 July on Online Theological Education – a unique opportunity!

On the 27th of July 500 plus people registered for the abovementioned workshop! This kind of training is crucial in these times of making creative plans in order to keep going during and post-COVID-19.

NetACT, ACTEA, Tearfund and SATS had a preliminary meeting with Barnabas Fund /OCRPL to discuss the workshop for theologians in Africa in developing online theological education. Also assisting in the training were resource people from GlobeTheoLib and TEE Africa.

NetACT is thankful for the Oxford Centre for Religion in Public Life and the Barnabas Fund for helping them to master the skills needed in a post-COVID-19 world.

The training involved three sections:

  1. Introduction to online theological training
  2. Creating online theological training and
  3. Delivering online theological training

Participants were requested to come on Tuesday prepared with a lesson outline as one of the sessions involved a practical workshop that required that.

The workshop was opened by Prof. Jurgens Hendriks after which Dr Patrick Sookhdeo spoke about the challenges of our time for Africa. Presentations were translated into Portuguese and French by using three Zoom channels and having skilled translators that helped the communication between presenters and listeners. Telegram (a program like WhatsApp) was used for the discussions between language groups and between working groups focussed on discussions on either theological progammes (OT, NT, Missiology, Practical Theology etc) or interest groups!

Experts in these fields were present at the discussion. They wanted to make some observations to be crucial for all theological training institutions in Africa:

  1. Online Theological Education can adapt to the level of internet/cell phone reception of any given area. In other words: the magnitude of information to be shared can be adapted to the level of communication available.
  2. The future of theological education and that of the institutions providing that education are closely related to their ability to adapt to and make use of modern communication technology. The financial advantages of this form of education are significant.
  3. If the principal/provost and senior leadership of an institution are not knowledgeable of the advantage of online theological education and of making use of information technology, the institution can hardly expect to take this step forward in a post-COVID-19 world.

They, therefore, appealed to senior management and a few board members of theological schools to attend the first part (Introduction to online theological education) of the workshop. The rest of the staff stayed on for the nitty-gritty detail of developing and implementing programmes.

*Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life is a centre for creating Leadership among Christians facing persecution and pressure around the world. They work in collaboration with the Barnabas Fund who has recently provided hands-on training for theologians in South Asia in developing online theological education. They are providing this training in Africa working with NetACT, Tearfund, ACTEA and the major theological schools in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

Contact Prof Jurgens Hendriks at hjh@sun.ac.za for more information.