GATEWAY Phase I began in 2007, originally in Spanish, to meet the training needs of gifted and called Hispanic pastors, as many of whom were serving congregations but lacked formal theological training. GATEWAY quickly added English curriculum, however, as there were many non-traditional English-speaking students that also had a need for formal theological training. GATEWAY Phase II began in 2009 (in English and Spanish), partnering with The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) to use their seminary-level curriculum to meet the needs of the GATEWAY students that desired additional education.
Understanding our beginnings, welcome to GATEWAY Phase I! We are excited to see how God will use your hard work and dedication in this theological training course to build your faith and serve His global church. We at GATEWAY are driven by the EFCA’s mission to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people, and we believe that your participation in this course advances us all one step further. This course is for men and women, including those of ethnic, urban or other non-traditional student backgrounds. The content of this Phase I course focuses on understanding and personally defending the EFCA Statement of Faith, an expression of the gospel. Through this study of core doctrine we seek to help both established and emerging leaders (leaders like yourself) to do their part in faithfully leading current and future transformational churches and ministries.
Throughout your time together, we pray that your cohort will become a true learning community, a group of humble individuals that truthfully and graciously challenges each other to learn and grow. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Given this truth, we believe that leaders should not serve alone; our desire is that your participation in this cohort will help you to not only develop tools for ministry, but that it would additionally cultivate gospel-centered relationships that you can invest in through loving, serving community.
About the readings
GATEWAY Phase I uses two textbooks. You will need to purchase each of these texts for the course:
- Evangelical Convictions 2nd Edition, an EFCA publication: this text is an exposition of the EFCA’s Statement of Faith. It walks through the SOF article by article, just as you will a session at a time through Phase I.
- Bible Doctrine, by Wayne Grudem: this text is a condensed version of Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It provides an overview of Christian doctrine from an evangelical perspective and explores multiple approaches to theological issues.
Note: some churches may have one or both texts available for you to borrow.
It is expected that you complete all required reading material prior to each session. You have chosen to take this course to improve on your theological knowledge and skills, and while you may be able to finish the required papers without reading all the assigned material, much of the learning that this course has to offer comes from the content within the assigned readings. The readings are broader than the EFCA Statement of Faith, and that breadth of content is intentional; it’s meant to help you acquire the wide base of knowledge that’s necessary to properly defend core doctrine. Coming to class prepared by the readings is to your benefit, and to the benefit of your classmates.
Following their involvement with GATEWAY Phase I, many participants will decide to pursue an EFCA ministry license as the training provided does prepare students for that application. Please note, however, that GATEWAY does not credential students and that the completion of a GATEWAY course does not guarantee that you will qualify for an EFCA ministry credential. Students that are interested in EFCA credentialing can find more information on the application requirements and process at the Credentialing Department’s website. All GATEWAY students are held to the same standards regardless of their plans for credentialing.
A closing thought
We challenge you to do everything with excellence. To “do it right” rather than “get it done.” For many of you this may be your only attempt at formal biblical and theological training, so we encourage you to enter these studies with the diligence they are due. Doing so is for your benefit and for the benefit of those that you will minister to in your current and future spheres of influence.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
(1 Timothy 4:14-16)
We’re excited for you. May God bless you in this journey.
The EFCA GATEWAY Directional Team