Since the Vineyard in Canada began without any formal routes for theological training, such as a bible college or a seminary, we set out to devise a way to do theological training within the context of the local church where dynamic ministry is already taking place. This is a good way to ensure that theory does not get divorced from practice. It also allows people who need to work to support their family to learn both theology and practice "on the job" without packing bags and leaving home for several years.
While we heartily encourage those who are able to get formal theological training in residence to do so, not all are able. Our institution of choice for formal theological training is St. Stephen's University, in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, particularly because of the rich marriage of an academic community with the ministry of a vibrant Vineyard church. We have drawn liberally from many of their resources to develop this program, and the successful completion of the Thoughtworks program can lead to advanced study at SSU. We particularly recommend their Master of Ministry program for those who already have a degree in some field.
We call our theological mentoring program "Thoughtworks" because we understand that theology, at its best, is faith with understanding. And we want to encourage people to love the Lord with all of their . . . minds! We seek to stimulate a lifelong love for learning, and to foster learning communities.
It is our intent that any part of our curriculum could be used at any time by any church to fit their own needs. Other than the required materials (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) there is generally little or no cost for each course unless it a course from Vineyard Bible Institute which requires a modest tuition.
Thoughtworks courses are designed to be used somewhat like a correspondence course under the supervision of a personal mentor. Whenever possible, we seek to gather those who are all working on the same course to enrich the experience with group dialogue.
Some of our core courses are offered twice a year in all four regions of our country as weekend intensives. The readings are done prior to the event, and then a qualified instructor teaches and guides discussion over a Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon. These Thoughtworks Intensives have met with a very positive response ever since they began.