Seminary & Missions: A Historical Perspective

Seminary / Bible College and missions have long been linked. (In fact, as we saw in the previous post this link between theological training and missions goes all the way back to biblical times). So, today lets look at a historical example.

Back in the days of the Reformation, Calvin 'the Academy' in Geneva to train future ministers. Yet the academy did not simply exist to fill the pulpits of Geneva. Rather the academy existed to train missionary ministers to take the gospel beyond the Swiss city, to France and even further afield. The academy was opened in 1559; in 1561 the records indicate that 142 men were sent
 out on 151 missions. By 1562 there were 2,150 protestant churches in France, with a membership of 3 million (out of total population of 20 million); furthermore it was estimated that half of the French nobility adhered to the Reformed faith! 

Although it must be remembered that the missionary endeavour to France (and even Brazil) stared 4 years before the official beginning of the Academy, this should not lead us to think that the earlier missionaries were sent out untrained. Rigorous theological training and gospel missions went hand in hand in Calvin's Geneva. The missionaries knew the Scriptures and preached the biblical gospel, and God worked through that gospel proclamation.  Although the word revival is not usually attached to the Genevan Reformation, I think that is the word that would be used today for the conversion of 15% of the population, principally in the space of 8 years!  Theological training and evangelism go very well together!

(P.S. The pictures are of the Calvin Auditory in Geneva, original home to the Academy, and site of Calvin's lectures even before the Academy's founding).