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Episode 6 - What We Love about Thirdmill's Curriculum (with Josh Warren and Will Savell)


Date: June 6, 2018
Run Time: 12:23
Host: Dr. Gregory R. Perry
Guest: Rev. Will Savell with Josh Warren
From the Series: Collaboration and Creativity to Equip Church Leaders

Program Notes

Will Savell of The Grace Institute introduces us to Josh Warren, his new Director of Curriculum. Will and Josh tell us about:

  • The new guy and how he avoided a hand slapping
  • Why they like Third Mill
  • The importance of the Kingdom
  • How no place in need of theological education is exactly like another

Rev. Will Savell is President of The Grace Institute, an organization dedicated to training, equipping, preparing, and resourcing church leaders throughout the world.

Josh Warren is The Grace Institute’s Director of Curriculum.

Podcast Transcript

Episode 6: What We Love About Thirdmill's Curriculum
Guests: Josh Warren and Will Savell

4 the World is a production of Third Millennium Ministries where we believe every Christian deserves a well-trained pastor. To study Scripture deeply or to learn more about how you can partner with us to provide Biblical Education. For the World. For Free. download our App to your phone or visit our online classroom at Thirdmill.org. And now, your host 4 the World, Dr. Greg Perry.


We're back today with Will Savell and also another guest, Josh Warren, from Grace Institute. It's good to have both of you guys here. I'm Dr. Greg Perry, your host, and we're coming to you from the studios of Third Millennium Ministries in Orlando, Florida. We've talked a little bit already about our partnership with The Grace Institute. But you guys are growing. There's new things happening all the time, and part of what's happening is Josh coming on. And so tell us a little bit about why Josh is a part of your team now, and just introduce us a little bit to who Josh is, Will, if you don't mind.

Will: So Josh is a longtime friend of mine. We've known each other for what, 15 years? Josh: Something like that, yeah. Will: Something like that. And when we went down to Costa Rica, as we discussed earlier, in 2011, Josh was one of the first supporters, financial supporters. He also helped with some of the projects we did. And as we established The Grace Institute he was on the board of directors. Josh has been a Bible teacher for a while at a local Christian school, and it was just in April of this year he texted me and said, "Thinking about maybe The Grace Institute. What do you think?" And it developed from there. He sort of wanted to take some things off my plate, but I'm a good southern boy, and imagine a plate of chicken and you grab something off my plate, I'm gonna slap your hands, right?

Yeah, you might get a fork.

Will: You might get a fork, that's right. It's like, it's my plate! I was, like, you know, you have an opportunity here to think through a dream job based off of your skills and talents and everything. Let's think through that. And we came up with a job description for him to be the Director of Curriculum. And I'll let him tell you a little bit more about what that means.

It sounds like ya'll think in terms of not just adding but multiplying — what are ways we can multiply effort? So tell us about your role, Josh.

Josh: Well, you know, Will doesn't like sharing and so I had to figure out a way to supplement without getting my hand slapped. And so what I really like doing is thinking of systems and looking through what's there and thinking of the end user. And so, what is the current curriculum being used and where are the gaps? And trying to supplement that, but also not just supplement it for, you know, one size fits all type of thing, but for who the specific audience is that we're trying to reach, or the pastor, or the church leader.

So you make sure that the content gets to the end user in a form and a format and in a relational context that makes sense for where they are in the world. Is that right?

Josh: Exactly.


Now, you guys have chosen to partner with Third Millennium. What is it about our curriculum that really would make you choose it for your partners and for your end users?

Josh: Well, I love what Third Millennium stands for with the authority of Scripture and their understanding of who Christ is and the centrality of Christ in Scripture and in the world in general. And with that, one thing that Will and I have talked about a lot is whenever Third Mill even publishes something, I know that I can give it to somebody. It's someplace that I can trust. I feel like a lot of people that produce content, I can trust them on some things but some things I would say, well, maybe this is better for this. But with Third Mill, everything that they produce is so high quality and thought through and makes sense in the larger scope of what Third Mill is already doing, and so it's just a really easy partnership.

What is it about the courses that makes them understandable and useful in different cultural contexts?

Josh: Well, what I like is the language use is consistent throughout the whole thing. Even though they have different professors and different people chiming in, it's still edited and put together by a team who have seen and used all of the other parts of the curriculum. And so the language, especially the theological language which can start to get very nuanced and specific, is still uniform throughout.


So when we talk about, say, applying an Old Testament passage in a New Testament context, one of the things we like to talk about here at Third Mill is the inauguration of the kingdom, the continuation of the kingdom and the church, and then when Christ returns, the consummation of the kingdom. So, yeah, it's something…

Will: The people we have that we're training, they know those three words. Even more than that, you mention the kingdom. There's a kingdom thread that goes throughout all of the Third Mill courses and that I've personally gained so much from, my friends back in Memphis who meet with me every Tuesday night, we've all gained so much from. We've selected an order from Old Testament and New Testament and then on into theology, but we start with Kingdoms, Covenants and Canons of the Old Testament. And lesson two and three on the Kingdom of God and God's Covenant People, so impactful for anybody that I've ever come across, because they've been introduced to the kingdom and priests and vice regents and all the stuff that Dr. Pratt talks about. And in my wife's group, alliance group, they're finishing up with the Book of Revelation, and they're about to be on lesson three which just, I mean, bookends that Kingdoms, Covenants, Canon course. And it's just a kingdom throughout all the way through, and it teaches you how to view the Bible front to back as one great story about the kingdom of God.

Of God's reign, to redeem and to mend his world that he loves.

Will: You know, and all kind of based on… We always go back to "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And that's just a common language spoken now in Germantown, Tennessee, and in Argentina, and Nicaragua, and Uganda, and wherever.


It's something Christians pray everywhere, isn't it? Now, you've talked about not only a consistency of language and shared theological values that add sort of a consistent interpretative framework about the kingdom of God and covenants. But something that Grace Institute really brings and has taught Third Mill a lot about is that you appreciate the different technological needs of different contexts, and you've been able to develop systems — like you were talking about, delivery systems — and tools that are really helpful in different contexts. So could you just say a little bit about the different formats you've used and even helped us sort of develop and think about?

Will: I think one of the big lessons learned over the last five or so years is no place is exactly the same. And no group of people, even in the same country, have the exact needs. I mean, you can generalize as much as you can, but, you know, you have some people who live in a city who have internet access, so how to use the internet. You have some people who live in places that don't have electricity, so to give them laptops they can't charge up, to give them a memory card where they don't have computers, you have to think through all those sorts of things. And you guys have done such a good job offering all the courses on the different formats, MP3, MP4, text, manuscripts, study guides. What we focus on is not trying to redo that sort of stuff, but to say, what platform or delivery system can that go on? So we started out with tablets, and Josh was instrumental from Memphis getting tablets into Costa Rica so I could get them into Cuba or wherever.

So when you say tablets, is this self-contained?

Will: Yeah, a little 7-inch computer, cheap tablet that held a microSD card. So like an iPad wouldn't work because it doesn't hold an SD card.

JW: And they're really expensive.

Will: And they're really expensive. But you know, an economical tablet with an SD card, it worked for some people. There was a story out of Bolivia where a dairy farmer was so excited because he could watch the video in one hand and milk the cow with the other. But he had to start listening to it on MP3 because he cut production in half because he couldn't use both hands.

I see. Okay.

Will: You know, cell phones that hold microSD cards that you can just do MP3's, full-out learning centers like in northern Colombia where there's so many people and people travel 12 hours — 2 hours on a river, 10 hours via bus — to get stuff. Well, let's get a learning center where they only have to travel 2 hours. And let's have that with projectors and books and copy machines, and computer labs, and those sorts of things.

Yeah, most of our brothers and sisters throughout the global church are holding down a couple of jobs, they have family responsibilities, and so to be able to multitask, to listen while you're exercising or while you're working, if your work allows for that, it's just so helpful, and so important, isn't it?

Will: Well, some of our brothers in El Salvador, for example, they can't leave their house for more than a day at a time because of the gang activities and the cartel activities. I was on a road one time where I looked about 50 yards up and it's Guatemala. And there's no border control or anything. It was just a well-known road of the drug trade. And I asked my friend who did the work down there, like, "So these pastors live along this road?" And he says, "Yes, and they can't leave for more than a day because if they were, their wives and children would be exploited, you know, to put it lightly, by the gangs. And so we have to be careful with that, and you have to provide them a resource where they can learn from their homes and around their own communities and not have to travel all the way in to the seminary that cost a lot of money and…

It's interesting, you know. These things actually go together; the commitment to particular values like the authority of Scripture and the centrality of the gospel, but also the commitment to delivering it in ways that our brothers and sisters can use, because isn't that what Christ did for us? That's what the incarnation is all about, right? That the Word became flesh that we could understand the love of God.

Well thank you, men, for being with us. Thank you, Will and Josh, for your time today and for coming down from Memphis to be with us here in Orlando.

Will: Thanks for having us.

4 the World is a production of Third Millennium Ministries where we are reimagining biblical education for Christian leaders in a global church. Each week we bring you conversations to cultivate your curiosity about God's word, to inform your intercessions for God's people, and to equip your efforts in God's mission for the world. Our host is Dr. Greg Perry. Our sound engineer and editor is Christopher Russell. Our web designer is Ra McLaughlin. Production assistance is provided by Stephanie Mathis. And I'm your announcer, Cindy Sawyer. Today's podcast was brought to you by The Grace Institute and by listeners like you. Thank you.