Blog — 4th February 2021
More to learn and room to grow, Andrew’s story
Andrew Tissingh said he’s absorbed a lot of theology over the years. First, while growing up as a missionary kid. Then, being involved in ministry throughout his adulthood. But after two intensive courses in Nazarene Theological College’s Flexible Theology Certificate, Andrew discovered there’s still more to learn and room to grow.
Learning through practice
Andrew’s parents are missionaries in Northern Africa, and for many years he attended school in Spain. At the age of 16, he left school to begin training for a life in full-time ministry. He took a series of missionary placements, from six to nine months at a time, in various countries around the world.
In 2004, he moved to London, where he ministered to urban youth. Andrew met his now wife in London. The newlyweds trained under Youth With a Mission and continued globetrotting in ministry.
Walking with people in spiritual and mental health
In 2011, they settled down in Preston to raise their two sons, who are now 9 and 11. Andrew is the family and outreach pastor at their local church in the Free Methodist denomination. He oversees the youth work and families ministry and manages the church’s online content.
We have a real heart for mentoring, and in particular, in the area of mental health
“My role is just walking with people,” he said. “We have a real heart for mentoring, and in particular, in the area of mental health. We do a lot of work in that area. I believe prevention is better than the cure.”
Andrew’s heart beats for those with psychological and emotional struggles. Recently he read data collected by an organisation that studies mental health. The report revealed that 75 percent of adults in the United Kingdom with mental health issues said their struggles began in their teenage years.
“So, you think, well, with that 75 percent, if we had taught them some basic coping strategies, if we had taught them how to be open, how to be vulnerable, how to really share where they’re at, how to process what they’re thinking, it would save so much grief later, so much pain, so much damage,” he said. “That’s where my heart really lies, with those who are broken and, even more importantly, those who are maybe a bit fragile. If you can get them at the right time and teach them, it’s going to make a world of difference. That’s what I do with our young adults and teenagers. It’s about training and equipping people how to listen well and recognize the signs. And how do you take biblical Christian principles of emotional well-being and prayer and then apply them to situations in which someone’s really struggling, together with medical professionals.”
Pursuing a deeper theological foundation
In order to complete his ordination requirements, Andrew was asked to pursue formal theological training.
He chose to study through NTC, partly because of his church’s already existing connections with the college. His church had hosted some of NTC’s remote classes, and Andrew had taken a church planting course with NTC lecturer Trevor Hutton. He also had friends who worked or studied at NTC.
“So, I had an affinity to NTC already and knew them,” he said.
Additionally, the college’s Flexible Certificate allows Andrew to continue as a full-time pastor while caring for his family alongside his studies. When the 2020 coronavirus pandemic pushed NTC to shift its courses fully online, that further benefitted Andrew, who saves time in his busy days by not having to commute into Manchester for his classes.
Although he’s taken just two modules so far, he has found immediate application for what he’s learning
Although he’s taken just two modules so far, he has found immediate application for what he’s learning, as well as the time management skills required to keep up.
“To be stretched in my discipline of reading and expanding my views has been a good challenge that’s shaping me in how I use my time, and the juggling of studying with work and family commitments,” he said. “But some of the content is shaking me up a bit.”
“The lecturer’s main role is to make you question everything,” he continued. “That then made me ask certain questions, as well, about presuppositions I’ve had. So, inevitably that domino effect is shaping some of the ministry. When you come to a Bible study group with 18-year-olds and they say, ‘I read this in the Bible, what does it mean?’, what I’ve been learning in the lectures comes out in the day to day.”
The courses are not only giving Andrew the tools to step outside of his experiences and assumptions and ask new questions, but to find ways to answer them. For instance, he realised that a specific English translation of a passage might shape the way he understands it. But if he reads the same passage in a variety of translations, he learns new things.
“That was very eye-opening for me,” he said. “The goal [of theological education] is to deepen our faith because we have a better understanding. I came away more equipped. I felt very challenged in my preaching and how I relate to young people, and the information I get across. I definitely change the way I do that.”
To find out more about the Certificate of Higher Education in Theology (Flexible Delivery) visit the webpage below