The new Oak Hill programme is designed to equip men and women for a life of fruitful ministry. It is a course carefully structured over three years.
The first year is a foundation year, where we are looking to put down deep roots and tap into a broad range of skills and subjects. Central to that, of course, is the study of Scripture, and so we start by thinking about the nature of God’s word, and by beginning to explore Old and New Testaments.
But there are other strands as well. A number of modules help us come to a better knowledge of ourselves and how we are shaped by our contexts and cultures; becoming more self-aware as individuals, but also as evangelicals in 21st century Britain. That kind of self-knowledge is vital if we are going to engage deeply with the Scriptures, and if we are going to relate humbly and generously towards others.
An overview of Christian doctrine and church history is also vital, as we learn from others down the centuries and see how the doctrines of Scripture have fuelled the worship and ministry of the church. First year Greek provides a foundation for biblical languages and the careful study of God’s word. And we will also develop tools to interpret and engage a fast-changing and ever more diverse culture.
In the first year, then, we are drawing on lots of different strands in ways that build towards the second year and its emphasis on integration.
Here we are drawing those different subjects and skills together and starting to see how they combine in fruitful ways. The work in biblical studies comes together in a module focussed on biblical theology, reflecting on how the Scriptures are a unified word and we explore what it means to interpret individual parts in light of the whole canon. Likewise, we begin to sketch what pastoral ministry, evangelism, and ethics look like, drawing on those earlier studies.
So in the second year we focus on putting the pieces together. We see how Scripture is unified and how pastoral ministry is resourced by those deep and varied roots.
The third year builds on this with its emphasis on application. Here we develop in much more detail what a life of worship and ministry looks like. Two modules in particular are central to that: A module on the doctrine of God is a capstone to our studies in Scripture and theology with a strong emphasis on how the doctrine of God forms us as worshippers. And then a module in the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), where we aim to engage and embrace their model of ministry in which theology, pastoral wisdom, and worship are woven together.
So that is the core of the Oak Hill programme. It is designed to a deep-rooted and unified theological training for whatever kind of gospel ministry you want to train for, whether that’s heading up youth and children’s ministries, leading churches, ministry amongst women, or serving in cross-cultural mission. Like an oak tree, the programme is able to flex and bend to some degree, recognising that some students arrive with prior training, and that some will want to tailor their route through college with more specific ministries in mind. But whatever your specific needs are, we are convinced that this kind of deep-rooted and well-integrated training is vital for the health of your ministry over a lifetime.