A Church Who Takes Learning Seriously

With students back in school this week, we're excited to share an interview with Jean Martin, member of our Advisory Team at the180 and current Academic Dean of ETEQ, l'École de théologie évangélique du Québec in Montreal. Jean's perspective on the importance of learning is invaluable to us at the180 as we strive to be a church who takes learning seriously.

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the elements of your history (where you were born, travel, education) that are important for understanding who you are today?

Quebec City is my home town and where I lived for exactly half a century! My dad was a proud, bilingual Canadian of Irish descent and on my mother’s side, I am all Canadien français. At home, we spoke French. Love and the Catholic faith had brought my parents together and they gave birth to a family of six children. I heard the Gospel story for the first time at age 17 and immediately decided to do follow Jesus and commit my life to him.

After pursuing studies in biology and education, my young wife Elizabeth and I did theological studies for three years in Regina. However, I could not wait to get back to Quebec City where we served the needs and opportunities of the small French Quebec Church. Later, Elizabeth and I were both involved for over 10 years in chaplaincy within the Correctional Service of Canada. Since 1983, my primary work has been in developing university-level, evangelical theological education en français here in Quebec. Today, I am the Academic Dean of l’École de théologie évangélique du Québec in Montreal.

What draws you to remain in Quebec?

Love for the Québécois, my people. At 17 years old, I remember praying over a huge map of the province of Quebec.  I thought that was a strange thing to do but others were doing it, so I joined in. As people prayed for Chicoutimi, Rimouski and Baie-St-Paul, I remember having to scan the map while others had their eyes closed… because I had no idea where those cities were.  That evening, God called me to stay or more precisely, to get totally involved with my people.  I fell in love with Quebec and that love has never diminished: a heart-felt love for its places, its people with all their pains and problems.

What is your role with ETEQ today?

I am the Academic Dean and also teach two classes each year.  I am especially responsible for the ongoing development of programs, professors and students here in Montreal as well as in our small branch in Quebec City. I am also the point person for our unique relationship with Université Laval to which all our students belong and which provides the degrees to our graduates.

What do you admire about this school?

L’École de théologie évangélique de Montréal is a school that is the fruit of the cooperation of two church families (The Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Mennonite Brethren) and many men and women with a passion to see young and old Québécois think, be, and live in ways that honour God and demonstrate Christian love, faith and hope in a secularized society. With about 80 students, ETEQ strives at nourishing a learning community where disciples of Jesus (as well as those who are not yet there…) learn about the Bible, theology, church history, missiology and best ministry practices in view of contributing to kingdom work in Quebec and beyond. For now, our programs are only in French.

What draws you to being involved in education and learning as a Christian?

I have a passion to see people grow and be transformed into effective servants of Christ, the church and society – I believe that Christ’s mission in the world depends on this. I think that Christianity has an on-going responsibility to think through and demonstrate healthy educational practices. We err when we simply adopt the way society does education.  Both at the personal discipleship or church-level of education as well as at the university-level of theological education (as at ETEQ), we need to ensure the place of three essential contributors to our learning and training methods: the Word of God, the People of God and the Spirit of God.  Whenever one of these is neglected, we are not in the presence of truly Christian education which is always Word-nourished, Community-challenged and Spirit-directed.

Do you sense a good fit as a learner at the180 and why?

Being the church means learning Biblical truth together, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

I am excited about the180 because it takes learning seriously. It understands that real personal questions are essential to learning and growth. Real spiritual pilgrims will ask real-life questions that intersect with our daily lives.

I am excited about the180, because we believe that while questions must come from individuals, we are committed to seeking answers together, as community.

I am excited about the180, because its leaders understand that in the final analysis, God, through his Holy Spirit, is the Teacher and Educator who speaks, leads and transforms his people into Christ-likeness so that we can be effective witnesses in this world.

But most importantly, my wife Elizabeth and I are involved with the180 because more than ever before, we are thirsty to learn yet more and even all over again! With others, we are here to experience, witness, explain and launch out into what God is up to in 2016 here in the city of Laval and beyond.

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Hope you can join us this Sunday at 10:30 as we continue learning in our current sermon series "All In: Loving Jesus in an Age of Distractions."