By Scott Sienkiewicz
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) – "In the providence of God, Truett-McConnell College is one of the only educational institutions, and certainly it is the forerunner, where one is able to acquire sound biblical theological training and at the same time acquire a marketable degree," said Fulbright Scholar, Phil Calvert.
A visiting professor of missions, Calvert reflected in an interview with TMCNews on comments he made during a Sept. 29 world missions dinner attended by almost three-dozen students, who are majoring in missions.
Calvert also is a missionary in Peru with the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board on stateside assignment.
"Dr. Calvert made it clear that, as world missions ventures further into the 21st century, there will be an ever-increasing need for missionaries to be prepared as tentmakers," said Dr. Ed Pruitt – missions professor and director of TMC's World Missions Center – who hosted the dinner in his home.
"The cost of fielding a missionary has gone up dramatically, and the cost of staying in that field has gone up, too," said Calvert, articulating the changing landscape of world missions. Missionaries with marketable skills overseas are easier to sustain, financially, and are not as much of a monetary burden on stateside organizations and churches, he added. "Right now, through a donations-based missions model, we have two finite resources: the called out ones, and the donations of those who are helping the called out ones."
With a tentmaking model of missions, finances are no longer a limiting factor in fulfilling the Great Commission, he noted, adding, "If we have a limitless supply of called out ones from our country, we will have a limitless supply of where we can place them globally because they will be sustaining themselves. That is at the heart of the Great Commission moving forward.
"Every TMC graduate can be equipped with a marketable missions degree. Such graduates can be full participants in the Great Commission by using the gifts and talents that the Lord has given them," said Calvert, noting a "Truett-McConnell education becomes the key enabler of lifetime Christian service, regardless of the place to which the Lord has called them, and regardless of future financial constraints at the church level."
TMC, according to Calvert, is taking an innovative approach to missiological education: "How do you enable those who are the called out ones to fund themselves through their work overseas? You need two things: number one, to train them theologically; number two, to give them a marketable degree."
"There are very few institutions where a student called to missions can get all that. And, you add the fact that what this college offers is solid, biblical training – then that gives Truett-McConnell, in my estimation, first mover advantage in educating the self-sustaining missionary workforce of the future. Everyone else will be playing catch-up."
Scott Sienkiewicz is a staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.