Institut Theologique du Soir – an elegant, almost regal title to the ear when heard in French. Yet, when translated, the phrase reveals its decidedly simple meaning – Theology Institute in the Evening.
Night School for Truth Seekers is what it is. And, this is exactly what Pastor Michel Texier and the Eglisse Evangelique de la Grace of Paris had in mind when founding the institute in 1994. ITS holds as its primary purpose the reaffirmation of the total authority of the Word of God. Students come and are equipped with a complete, balanced training that provides a deep knowledge of the Bible and a clear understanding of Christian doctrine.
Nowhere, perhaps, is this needed more than in Paris and the nation of France. For centuries now, the power of human reason spawned in the Enlightenment Age before the French Revolution has gripped the political, social, and religious character of this country.
The concepts of Martin Luther and John Calvin were at first received by some, but others resisted, often violently, before the Reformation's roots could find depth in France. Therefore, many turned to natural philosophies and the empty promises of worldly "liberty, fraternity, and equality."
"The world lives in the lies," said Pastor Texier in delivering the keynote address at the commencement exercises for Maryland Bible College and Seminary to the Class of 2012 in May 2012 in Baltimore.
Pastor Texier has observed this reality in the city that often sets the tone for fashion and the spirit of the age. He warned the MBC&S graduates of a particular brand of lie -- flattery.
"Flattering words are words that give just part of the truth" - Pastor Texier
"Flattering words are words that give just part of the truth," Pastor Texier said in his address. "We have a message; a message that is not there to flatter people. We tell all the truth to exalt Christ."
Parisian society promotes the image of polish and smooth living. But, as Pastor Texier put it, this is "a slippery way" that seems easy and accessible.
ITS draws those seeking another way, the way of practical training in Bible doctrine. These faithful ones come from a diversity of French-speaking backgrounds. The institute's enrollment of 167 this past year included Africans, Haitians, Belgians, French Carribeans, and Swiss. Nearly 90 percent of them are from ministries unconnected to Greater Grace.
"We've been blessed to see how the Finished Work orientation of the teaching we have in GGWO actually has a deep impact on people and, especially on pastors and leaders who come for training," said Pastor Philippe Serradji, the director of ITS.
The ITS program is divided into four parts:
- On-campus evening classes at night, so people can work and have Bible training
- Distance learning acquired through using mp3 downloads of the complete ITS catalog
- Off-campus programs that feature video classes and an ITS teacher visits to partner churches throughout France.
- And, the Pastoral School dedicated to serving men in ministry with specific training on several Saturdays through the year.
This latter category is particularly important to the ministry of ITS, explained Pastor Serradji. Church leaders are instructed in areas both practical and spiritual. Students get intense teaching in sermon preparation and delivery, administrative practices and counseling essentials, as well as sessions in ministerial ethics, the theology of grace, and the premises of healthy church life.
“Beyond the classes and teaching opportunities,” Pastor Serradji said, “we see real discipleship on a deep level with people who hear the message and want to apply it and make changes in their own churches.”
To find out more about ITS go to itsparis.org on the web, or email ITS at firstname.lastname@example.org.