Early efforts: TEE
In 1973 the first advanced program of theological education by extension (TEE) began offering courses in French and Arabic with students enrolled from three North African countries. A first generation of church leaders was prepared for ministry. However, by the mid-1980’s the program had fallen into disuse.
Summer Bible Schools
Then in 1987 the Summer Bible School program was launched first in southern Spain, then in France and North Africa. It provided two 1-week modules of intensive Bible study courses each summer through the 1990’s.
Meanwhile, the need for a basic discipleship program for new believers became apparent, and a survey was conducted. This resulted in the release of a new inductive Bible study program of 10 courses in 1995. It was called ‘Progressing Together Level 1’. The courses were originally made available in Arabic, French and English, then in Kabyle-dialect Berber and Spanish. An eleventh course was added to address forgiveness and reconciliation in 2008.
Level 2 Certificate
To meet the increasing demand for advanced discipleship and leadership training, a year-round study program was deemed necessary. In the year 2000 objectives were carefully defined and divided into a program originally of 30 courses. These were eventually reduced and consolidated to 10 core courses + one practical ministry course elective. This indeed is the current Progressing Together Level 2 program. The courses were strengthened with readings, exercises requiring analysis and practical application activities to offer a Certificate of Preparation for Service. This program has been accepted for review by MEATE (Middle East Association of Theological Educators) for accreditation. Currently all 10 core courses of the Level 2 are completed, but work continues to expand the variety of practical ministry courses available.
Level 1 Orality
Multiple requests came to us from western North Africa for a comprehensive basic discipleship program for non-literate believers and for those who, being from an oral culture, prefer to learn orally. This led in 2008 to the creation of a first task force to adapt the objectives and content of the Progressing Together Level 1 program for oral learners. The first teacher’s training seminar using the oral method was held in February 2015. Since then, orality teachers have been trained in North Africa, the Gulf and Europe. The first complete orality teacher’s manual was released in January 2016.