Tilsley College has grown up as the training wing of the work of Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO) in Europe. GLO itself is an international movement with the aim of playing a significant part in the task of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. It was launched in Australia in 1965 primarily through the vision of Colin Tilsley. He had the goal of furthering mission work by mobilising Christians to be involved in missionary teams both short and long term.
GLO has grown steadily both in the work of training and in the ministries undertaken. It is based within the Christian Brethren churches and operates in partnership with commending churches, missionary service organisations and national leaders. GLO has developed into an international ministry and now has around 230 people world-wide engaged in various ministries aimed at strengthening existing churches and planting new ones. In order to do this, it encourages teams of Christians to go to places where there are few believers with a view to establishing churches in such places. Missionaries associated with GLO are presently serving in more than 20 countries worldwide. GLO has helped to establish Training Centres (like Tilsley College) for Christian workers and missionaries in countries such as Australia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru and Zambia.
The base for GLO Europe was established in Motherwell, Scotland in 1974. The work included the organising of short term mission teams, development of long term teams, and the establishing of a Bible Training Centre. Another key feature of the work was the Business Ministries which initially involved a bookshop and coffee shop in Motherwell as well as a wholesale book ministry in Scotland, operated on behalf of STL (Send the Light Ministries). Funds from these ministries have been used to support the work of training and mission in Europe. GLO Europe currently has over 90 people working full time in what are mainly church planting ministries with some involved in administrative support and training.
The GLO ‘Training for Service’ Course, commonly referred to as ‘the GLO Course’ was run on much the same basis each year from 1974/75 – 1982/83. The complete course consisted of two 10 week terms, made up usually of one week courses, with a total of 10 hours of classroom teaching per week. The rest of the time was spent in personal study and involvement in a wide range of evangelism and Christian ministries in association with local churches.
Significant development took place in the mid 1980’s with the appointment of a new Principal. These changes included aspects of course structure and content as well as improvements to the infrastructure. In the 1990’s “Training for service” became a full year course in length and approximating in academic standard to the first year of a diploma or degree in Applied Theology. At the end of 1995 the name “Tilsley College” was adopted to replace the phrase “GLO Training centre,” which reflected the development in vision for the training facility to be not only a training ground for GLO workers but to provide training for people who would not necessarily be working with GLO in their future ministries.
In 2004 a second year option was commenced which is in the form of a church or ministry-based apprenticeship, giving students the opportunity to develop ministry skills in a structured and mentored way. Then in 2008 our main “Training for Service” course was taken successfully through an accreditation process with the European Evangelical Accreditation Association. More recently, shorter courses for those unable to take a year out for full time study have been developed under the “Joshua Project,” as well as a scheme called “FirstServe” for people wanting to take a structured GAP year in overseas mission which is run in conjunction with other mission partners.