I've been asked by people whether Australian Lutheran College's (ALC) new "Discovery" program is the same as FRONTIER. I have been asked whether we are competing with ALC, even though FRONTIER was developed several years before ALC developed "Discovery". So, I thought I'd post a short blog and share the difference.
Before I begin, it should be noted that FRONTIER's model comes from Melbourne School of Theology, who, for a number of years , has offered a DipMin or GradDipDiv as an introductory degree which could be used to continue study. In response to FRONTIER's initiative, it seems ALC has adopted a similar model with "Discovery".
Firstly, one has to ask what the end-state or outcome of each program is. It's a little complex to fully discern this with ALC, but it would appear the outcome of the "Discovery" program is to give a taste for theological study so the individual will take up the opportunity of relocating to Adelaide and continue study towards becoming a Pastor/Teacher/Layworker of the LCA.
FRONTIER's end state is very different to that mindset. FRONTIER seeks to enable, empower and release people into the local mission field of the local church. It is delivered at the coal-face of local mission. It's focus is to create missional practitioners skilled in adaptive change who can bring the Gospel in fresh ways to the unchurched world. It equips people to think theologically while being actively engaged in missional ministry. If people wish to pursue further study, that's fine, but we are more concerned with releasing for missional ministry.
Secondly, ALC's units in their "Discovery" program are the standard palette they normally offer. It is theoretically heavy and disconnected with the local church. It is hard to find a truly missional focused theme, or unit, within this plethora of options.
FRONTIER, on the other hand, is focused on missional thought and practice. The units offered are intentionally designed to release people into local mission. It offers units that are missional in intent, and embedded within the local church. The units it offers are that which ALC currently cannot currently offer.
Thirdly, ALC is structured to deliver its units in the "Discovery" program within the traditional model of higher learning. It is staffed to teach in this traditional form, which tragically remains disconnected from the grass-roots of the local church. In such a model, too often, currency of practice and experience become abstract elements. It is partly why theological colleges across Australia are struggling.
FRONTIER engages practitioners currently in-the-field doing missional leadership and ministry within the local church. The trainers are people who are actually doing mission, not just a group of people who've read a book or two about it. They are people who are networked within the church planting and missional movements within Australia and overseas. They bring to the table real life experience in a way that demonstrates the need to allow practice and theory to interact in creative and transformational ways.
The truth is that each program has its own agenda and desired outcome. Each is structured and delivered to support that outcome. We are excited for ALC's development of "Discovery", and for those interested in simply doing theological study, we encourage you to pursue that. But if you want to be missionally active and engage the unchurched world at the coal-face of the local church, then FRONTIER is here for you.