Sometimes several IRTC students come together in a local study centre organized by their church and not by the IRTC. In some cases, a centre can be set up in a specific location with several computers and a library so that students come together daily. In others, the students have computers at home and they meet as frequently as appropriate. A minimum of once a week is recommended. In all cases, there should be a mentor who encourages the students and gives spiritual guidance. The group regularly discusses topics being studied and stimulates the members to stay on schedule – one of the biggest difficulties in distance education.
Churches can use our programs very flexibly. They can teach some courses themselves, so that the students do not take these courses from the IRTC. They can also give their students courses not offered by us. The ideal is that churches be in control of the training of their own leaders. As their servant, the IRTC seeks to make available courses that are usually taught in traditional seminaries and churches can use them as they see fit.
The importance of the local church needs to be emphasized. Our way of educating works particularly well when the student’s church is much involved. When several students can get together with a pastor on a regular basis, and when the pastor counsels and encourages them in evangelism, teaching, sermon preparation and confessional perspective, this training can be most effective. It is not always used well, but it certainly can be. By the Lord’s grace, the IRTC can be a great help for churches with students that cannot attend regular seminaries and churches that do not have enough funds or professors to set up a complete training program. For the sake of clarity, it must be said that the IRTC gives credits only for its own courses.