The Forge Mission Training Network was founded in 1996 by a group of people who were convinced that the church in Australia needed a training system dedicated to the development of a distinctly pioneering style of leadership. The world in which they found themselves no longer saw relevance in church and they realized their churches needed more than just a cosmetic change to effectively move into the future. They started with a question: Were current forums of leadership development producing the style of leader needed for the missional challenge of our day? It was discovered that of the thousand or so students attending the various Evangelical Colleges in any given year in Melbourne, only 0.3% (around thirty people) would move on to engage directly in church planting or distinct pioneering work in Australia. Using of focus groups, further research began in order to profile what a missional leader in the western context would look like and what skill set would be needed for that task. Forge built their approach and curriculum squarely on that research.
As they dove into these issues and experimented with new ways of thinking about and being the church they developed a training network to help others make the needed shifts in paradigm and practice. They equipped a grassroots movement of people wanting to live as missionaries in their local context (be that an office, a neighborhood, a homeless community, etc.). Fueled by a sense of urgency in response to the missional challenge ahead, Alan Hirsch drew together a group of like-minded people (including among others, Michael Frost), and developed the first expression of the Forge Mission Training Network. Forge began to offer a revolutionary approach to mission training by focusing on the development of both the skills and knowledge needed by missional practitioners, church planters, and evangelists for pioneering ministry in Australia.
The Forge Missionary Training Network was established in Victoria, Australia in 1996. After 7 years of significant road testing and evaluation it expanded to six networks throughout Australia. From there, Forge developed an international system to birth and nurture the missional church globally, and to ensure that the Forge DNA and founding character is cultivated and supported within each new region. We wholeheartedly believe that the establishment and ongoing development of the international Forge Mission Training Network will play a vital role in the church emerging on the edges of the first-world mission fields.
In April of 2010, Forge made its way to the States to support the American church, which is experiencing some of the same struggles the church in Australia has faced. Forge provides a vessel and essential content needed to help individuals and churches make the important paradigm shifts that will position them to flourish in our current cultural context.