Hebrews 5:14 teaches us that more difficult theological subjects are for those who have their sense of discernment trained by making use of the simpler doctrines they already know. This suggests that a person is better trained in theology if he is actively using what he knows. It is good for a Christian to be teaching and evangelizing the Word in a local congregation and community before and while he studies theology. Difficult concepts are best learned when a person is working to apply them to spiritual concerns real people have – the way the apostles did. The development of Christian character and learning of theology should go hand in hand.
From Ephesians 4 we learn that all the saints receive a measure of gifts and all need to be equipped for the work of service. We grow to maturity as all the members of the body supply what is needed for the body to grow. Thus, theology students are helped in their growth to maturity by participating in the life of the congregation. This would be by both receiving from and giving to other members of the body. The methods adopted by the IRTC keep students active in their local churches and permit their local pastors and elders to shepherd them on a regular basis.
It is interesting to note parallels between biblical methods of training and ones that today’s distance education promotes. In most cases Paul went to where the learners were and did not uproot them from the calling in which they were at the time. Learning involved learning to do by doing, and disciples working in their own towns received support from Paul by means of letters and occasional visits. The IRTC has a worldwide campus and the instructors do not occasionally visit the students. She applies the other concepts, while looking to local pastors to carry out face-to-face guidance.