I’ve gone to lots of conferences. Sometimes they are tailored for inspiration, sometimes for information, sometimes for indoctrination, sometimes for integration---of peers and ideas.
The ICETE Conference held on the plush beaches of Playa Bonita, Panama, this November, had some of all of this, but with a supreme purpose of struggling with one singular theme---“How do we address the ‘secular-sacred’ divide that has seduced many evangelical Christians into posturing a religious bent on one day of the week, or consigning Christian professionals into the metaphoric airline “first class” of evangelism while lay people are relegated to the “economy class” of so-called “secular occupations”.
ICETE, deciphered, is the International Council of Evangelical Theological Education that brings together hundreds of bible colleges and seminaries that are networked into a dozen or so formal accrediting associations, that extend around the world The conference itself meets every three years to tackle a contemporary theme. This year, 460 theological academics, book publishers, and Christian trainers gathered, representing 75 nations, and over 200 institutions to tackle this very contemporary theme.
We noted that the MSF TOW program has awarded 414 grants to institutions that have engaged 59 lecturers and professors, in sessions have exposed 55,000 participants to the themes.
However, a new major shift in the allotment of grant funds was introduced, encouraging local ICETE-related organizations to find qualified teachers who would be mentored by core MSF-assigned professors, tutored through a formal course, in an arrangement that would credentialize them to receive scholarship funding, and a commission to formally teach these courses under Mustard Seed auspices. A detailed description of this new initiative was made available to all participants and can be downloaded here.
Overall, there were ten “take-aways” for me from the five days in Panama.