The Chalmers Institute was founded in 2012-13 in response to local needs for theological education and formation in St Andrews. It grew organically out of disciple-making ministry of Mark and Jenny Stirling in St Andrews, Scotland and their long-term burden to see Leaders for the church and society who are Biblically equipped to “go and make disciples”.
Thomas Chalmers was one of the great leaders of the church in Scotland in the 19th century. He was born in Anstruther and was an undergraduate at St Andrews before being ordained to parish ministry in Kilmany, 10 miles north of St Andrews. During his time as a minister there, Chalmers came to faith in Christ and his life and ministry were transformed. He then accepted a call to the Tron Parish in Glasgow where he pioneered a system of parish poverty relief and became one of the most famous preachers of his day. He then came back to St Andrews as professor of moral philosophy between 1825 and 1828. During this time, he effectively carried out student ministry from his home, mentoring young students, several of whom went on to be pioneer missionaries. In 1828, he transferred to Edinburgh to take up the chair of systematic theology at the University of Edinburgh. Chalmers subsequently became one of the leading figures in the Disruption of 1843 when 470 ministers left the Church of Scotland over the issue of patronage, setting up the new Free Church.
Chalmers was a polymath, accomplished in subjects from astronomy to mathematics to philosophy and economics. He is remembered, amongst his multiple accomplishments, for his sermon “The Expulsive Power of the New Affection” in which he argued that it was not good enough to seek holiness only by negatively eliminating certain behaviours, but rather that the new love for Christ would displace lesser desires from our hearts.
Chalmers was thus a man who applied his theology to every aspect of life and culture and had a profound influence on his times. We see in Chalmers an example of the kinds of leaders we believe are needed in Scotland today.
We long to see generations of vocational and non-vocational leaders within the church who have a rich, whole-of-life understanding of the Gospel and are growing in their contentment and security in communion with the Triune God. These leaders in turn pass on what they themselves are receiving, shaping environments of grace in which every member of the body of Christ is loved and served towards finding their place and making their contribution to the whole.
We long to see Christian leaders in Scotland (and more widely) who are robustly equipped theologically and are therefore able to guard the truth against error and feed God’s sheep with nourishing food.
We long to see leaders who are safe and who serve rather than use God’s people.
We long to see leaders who are secure in communion with the Triune God and are therefore not competitive with other leaders in the body of Christ. Such leaders will be those who foster and build unity rather than cause division.
We long to see leaders who live for Christ in the whole of life and help others also to do so. They will be engaged with their neighbours and community, loving and serving others.
We long to see leaders who will understand that holiness involves the restoration of humanity rather than its diminishing.
We long to see leaders who will teach, preach and pastor faithfully.
We long to see the church in Scotland reformed so that its structures, forms and activities serve its biblically given purpose of discipleship and mission.
The values of Chalmers Institute arise from Biblical and theological reflection on the nature and purpose of the church, discipleship, mission and leadership. The particular burden of Chalmers is to see a renewal of the church through a renewal of Biblical leadership.
As an organisation, our ministry is shaped by the following core values:
The body of Christ exists to fulfill God’s mission to make disciples of all nations; in the church, family, workplace and community.
EQUIPPING EVERY MEMBER
For the body of Christ to be faithful to its mission, all members must be equipped towards maturity, making their unique contributions to the whole. There are no little people in God’s church.
Developing a diversity of leaders who have the character, knowledge, skills & vision to make disciples in every sphere of life will fuel the mission of the church.
Disciple-making leadership is caught as much as taught. Equipping disciple-making leaders requires an approach to formation in which disciple-making is intentionally modelled. This involves rigorous Biblical and theological education in a relational environment that fosters transformation.
APPLYING THE GOSPEL
God’s redemptive purposes extend as “far as the curse is found”. Disciple-making therefore involves helping God’s people understand the application of the whole gospel to the whole person for the whole of life. Our approach to education and formation is shaped by this goal.
We work across denominations & tribes to build partnerships in the body of Christ and serve God’s work wherever we are given opportunity.
Chalmers Institute provides a relational, home-based learning environment with instructors, resources and programmes to help men and women exercise faithful Biblical leadership in church and in society.
In practice, this means –
- A weekly learning community
- A year-long graduate development programme
- A PhD scholar support and development Fellowship
- Regular conferences, lectures and public discussions
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