Mission and Vision

Operating Assumptions

The following assumptions provide the philosophical base upon which IGSM operates.

  • In order to change communities we must change congregations and ministries. And in order to change congregations and ministries we must change pastors and ministry leaders. Pastors and ministry leaders have the best opportunity to be change agents in their communities.
  • Traditional seminaries and Bible colleges will not be able to re-configure or reengineer themselves to meet the practical training needs of most students.
  • The goal of training and equipping is no longer acquisition of standardized knowledge in a specialized area. Instead the goal today must be individuals who are contextually informed, dynamic life-long learners, able to connect with the necessary people and information and make the necessary applications to real-life, everyday problems, challenges and opportunities.
  • Using academically qualified instructors and mentors who have significant ministry experience allows students to glean from the experience of those who are experts in their subject area as well as those who are active in the front lines of ministry. To meet the needs of today’s pastors and ministry leaders, instructors and mentors must include those who are successful pastors, successful leaders of ministries that operate outside the walls of the church, and those who have demonstrated their proficiency as exceptional coaches and mentors.
  • Three Male Students StudyingWe assume that students will pursue their education at the same time they are ministering in a part-time or full-time capacity. Students are not interested in relocating themselves or their families to take advantage of training opportunities. Training while students are active in the field provides the greatest opportunity for personal growth and development.
  • The opportunity for students to participate in a dynamic learning community led by a spirit-filled, personal mentor, with significant ministry experience, provides the richest educational experience. Interaction that takes place outside of instructional time is vital to personal development—it allows students to process what they are learning. Interaction that is cross cultural and/or cross denominational is particularly valuable for ministry insights.
  • Because of time and travel demands, pastors and ministry leaders want to attend training that is offered either in an intensive format (where they can do their assignments prior to gathering for instruction and/or facilitation, and then write a practical application project based on the training) and/or in a distance learning format that utilizes the internet.
  • We must have a global and cross-cultural perspective that serves pastors and ministry leaders in diverse ministry contexts.
  • We recognize that every congregation, every pastor, every ministry and ever ministry leader is unique and there is no one program or model that fits all situations. Therefore we must be a forum for ideas, not salesmen for any particular style or pattern of ministry. The pattern worldwide is an increased diversity in ministry. Learning to ask the right questions and answering those questions based on one’s own unique setting and context is more important than learning the “right answers.”
  • Learning is a journey, not a destination and learning must be a life-long process.
  • Most students who choose to seek advanced ministry training will be pastors and ministry leaders who have prior ministry experience and some theological training.
  • We must place a high priority on training and equipping Christian leaders who are in, or intend to be in part-time or full-time ministry.
  • Attending classes (what some have referred to as sit-and-soak learning) does not guarantee successful implementation. We must format our learning modules so students can move from theory to practice and application.
  • Ministry skills must be considered as important as academic achievement. Traditional training is 80 percent theory and 20 percent practice. Those figures need to be reversed to produce quality leaders for ministry in the world today.
  • We must be accountable not just to accrediting associations but also to the congregations, ministries and communities for which we are training pastors and ministry leaders.
  • Our learning experiences must help students think positively and creatively, not just critically.
  • Graduates are expected to become leaders fully utilizing the gifts God has given to each one of them, not just academic scholars.
  • We are at our strongest when:

o   We are Spirit-led and Spirit-directed

o   We are doing something that we are passionate about

o   We know and use our spiritual gifts in collaboration with other Christians

o   When we recognize and honor one another’s God-given personality, gifts, etc.

  • We are called to develop Christian leaders who:

o   Walk in unity with other Christian leaders despite differences in style, gifting, and/or expression

o   Are open to new ideas and opportunities

o   Are open to risk (early adopters)

o   Have a broader perspective of the kingdom of God (city church versus their congregation, community ministry versus their ministry, etc.)

o   Have learned the importance of brokenness – they reflect genuine humility

o   Desire to minister in a team orientation as opposed to the more traditional lone-ranger style of ministry

  • Our role and purpose on earth is to execute God’s will, bringing forth his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, claiming and declaring his promises and defeating the works of the enemy. Therefore, nothing short of “…his kingdom come, his will be done in our world as it is in heaven…” will satisfy.
  • Teaching and learning without activation and implementation has limited value. Knowledge must become wisdom as the students activates and applies their learning in their local ministry context.
  • Knowing about God without truly knowing and experiencing God is meaningless. Genuine intimacy must be the highest priority.
  • Our history, including both our successes and our failures, are launching pads, not boundary lines. We choose to focus not on what is or what has been, but on what could be. We see ourselves as people of destiny, un-restricted by our past. We learn from our failures without shame or self-condemnation.
  • We are called to raise up catalysts for change, not maintenance workers. We are called to train and equip warriors, not security guards.
  • Our training and equipping must be in the very best sense: personal, didactic, Socratic, systems-focused, problem-centric, real-world focused, and technologically enabled.

Organizational Culture

A key feature of every organization is its culture or personality. While harder to define than assumptions, values or distinctives, culture or personality is a fundamental feature that provides guidance in the decision-making process for every organization. The following are the most important elements of our personality and culture.

  • Holy Spirit directed learning – We value the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit–the free expression of his creativity and his gifts. We are committed to a serendipitous approach to the walk of the Holy Spirit, always being aware of the possibility of his intervention.
  • Passion – We have a mission and vision which compels each of us to give ourselves totally to fulfill Gods’ purposes in our lives and the lives of those we serve.
  • Team orientation – We recognize that we are strong as a team and weak as individuals. When we combine our unique gifts, talents and abilities we can best fulfill God’s purposes and destiny for our lives.
  • Networking – We seek to connect with other Christian leaders, ministries and training institutions who are committed to the same things we are. We seek healthy relationships with those who can help us expand our ministry and increase our impact.
  • Concern for one another/honesty – In everything that we do, we must demonstrate genuine care and concern for one another. Developing and maintaining healthy relationships must always remain the highest priority. “Who we are is more than important than what we do.”

Distinctives

One of the hardest things for any institution or organization to do is to define its uniqueness, to define the difference between itself and others who are involved in similar ventures. The following are the distinctives that are most important to IGSM. While each of these distinctives is not totally unique to our school, we believe our emphasis on these distinctives and the combination of these distinctives does define the difference between ourselves and others who are training and equipping pastors and ministry leaders.

  • Local, personal, relevant learning experiences – When we think about Jesus’ and the Apostle Paul’s discipling, training and equipping we see the genius of a different kind of learning environment than is typically seen in training institutions today. We need to ensure that we create a learning community based on the very best practices that have proven to be most successful.
  • Congregation and ministry focused instruction – Learning modules and assignments focus on the issues pastors and ministry leaders’ face. Our goal is to provide successful application, integration and implementation for personal ministry.
  • Demonstration of the unity of the Body of Christ – We are open and committed to pastors and ministry leaders from all denominations and theological expressions that acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We believe significant interaction across the diverse cross-section of the Body of Christ strengthens us and demonstrates the love and unity Jesus commanded.
  • Empowered learning communities – We are committed to significant interaction between students as well as between students, instructors and mentors. We want to demonstrate the importance of relationship building as an integral part of successful ministry. We want to develop a global social network for those who are involved in ministry.
  • Effective use of technology – We are committed to taking advantage of the most up-to-date technology for training, instruction and operations. Students are able to learn in a virtual learning environment that provides all the resources needed including formats for social networking and interaction.
  • Instruction by successful practitioners – We select instructors who have been or are recognized leaders in the subjects they are teaching. Our preference is for instructors who are currently on the front lines of active ministry.
  • Modular approach to learning – We are committed to an educational process that works well for those who are already in ministry and desire to continue their education while serving in their present positions. Therefore our learning modules are offered in intensive and distance learning formats that allow students to grow and develop professional while they are in active ministry.
  • Devoting the necessary time for application and activation – We are committed to an instructional process that provides the best possible transfer of information into action. This is accomplished through assignments, simulations, case studies, directed reflection, etc. It is also enhanced through a required mentoring process.
  • Costs that are reasonable – We are committed to a fee structure that is commensurate with the income levels of the pastors and ministry leaders we serve. Because we are not dependent on full-time faculty and/or facilities we are able to keep costs significantly below other training institutions.
  • Mentoring relationships – By requiring all students to be part of an ongoing mentoring process we provide the necessary encouragement, supervision, accountability and support that ensures the necessary integration and application for practical ministry.

Mission Statement

Equipping today’s pastors and ministry leaders for practical ministry in order to significantly impact the communities they serve for Jesus Christ.

  • Equipping – We are committed to genuinely equipping pastors and ministry leaders, not just giving them information. We must ensure that our training results in genuine and positive changes in the lives of those being equipped. We expect that as a result of the training, these leaders will be better prepared to do the work of the ministry. (Mark 1:17-18; Eph 4:11-12, 16; 2 Tim 2:2)
  • Student Sitting by WindowPastors – A primary focus of our training are pastors who serve in local congregational settings. While others may benefit from the training we offer, a top priority must be to equip those who are in part-time or full-time pastoral ministry. (Acts 20:28; Eph 3:1, 4:11; Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 5:2)
  • Ministry leaders – Another primary focus of our training are those who serve in ministry settings outside the walls of local congregations. We want to offer training that will equip them in whatever leadership capacity they serve. (Eph 4:11)
  • Practical ministry – While teaching always involves a certain amount of theory, we want to emphasize the practical aspects of ministry. The instructors, the assignments, and the training format all emphasize the practical aspects of ministry.
  • Significant impact – We believe we are in the world to make a difference. That means there should be measurable results from our labor. The true test of our training and equipping is whether it makes a significant difference or impact in our ministry setting. (John 15: 8; Gal 6:9; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1)
  • Communities – We believe that the church is more than the ministry of single congregation. The rich fabric of Christ is to touch every city or community with a variety of ministries that together reflect the fullness of Christ.
  • Serve – Pastors and ministry leaders are servants first and foremost. Missionaries take years to learn the local culture in which they serve before figuring out the real needs and appropriate strategies. Pastors and ministry leaders must recognize the genuine call to a place or location and spend the necessary time learning why they are there. All ministry must be contextualized to fit the unique needs of the those being served.
  • For Jesus Christ – The reason for our existence and our ministry is the call of Jesus Christ. Everything we do must reflect his purposes and his plans for us. We want to be in total alignment with his will as we seek to fulfill his vision for our lives. (John 15 1-8)

Values

Every organization and institution must operate with certain core values that are non-negotiable. The following values are fundamental to the life and ministry of IGSM.

  • We value a Christian community characterized by love, acceptance and forgiveness.
  • We value risk-taking–the adventurous expression of faith, i.e. a pat on the back for a good try is more important than safe, methodical steps.
  • We value the right of every person to choose for themselves, to make up their own minds on issues related to their personal life. This is a non-directive approach to Christian leadership.
  • We value wholeness and personal growth—an accurate self-knowledge and assessment of who we are, knowing areas where there is potential for failure, having true integrity and balance in our daily living.
  • We value leadership that is strong, visionary and exemplary.
  • We value the historical roots of Christianity that have shaped the theology and orthodoxy of the faith.
  • We value openness—an educational environment that is open to diverse opinions, ideas and concerns expressed in appropriate forums with respect and grace.
  • We value mentoring—the biblical model for Christian growth and training is developing a network of relationships that allows for significant personal interaction. We believe that we need to develop these types of relationships today for personal growth and accountability.
  • We value a healthy understanding of ourselves, particularly our value and position in Christ, which allows us to be agents of reconciliation with others.
  • We value a learning process that allows for discovery, as well as enabling and certification of capacity for ministry.
  • We value a training process that authorizes and empowers graduates to reproduce themselves by mentoring, coaching and teaching others.

Vision statement

Building a personal learning community for empowering and extending ministry