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Missions 101

A Case for Informal Theological Training

Oct. 21, 2014By: Philemon YongAuthor Bio

In one developing country, there is a denomination with over 1000 churches. Church planting is a strong push in this denomination. A glaring problem is that of these 1000+ churches, less than half have a pastor with reasonable theological training. This means that less than 50% of the churches have a leader who is able to guide the flock biblically.

This denomination, for many years, has had one significant seminary that trains pastors for their churches. Over the years, the seminary has not been able to produce enough pastors to meet the needs in these churches. As a result, many churches continue without a trained pastor. The unfortunate thing about this situation is that for a lot of the Christians, the pastor’s sermon each week is the most they get in terms of interaction with Scripture. The good news is that some of the untrained pastors want to seek training at the seminary. The bad news is that they do not meet the standards for admission. This creates a dilemma.

The Dilemma

Each year, the seminary conducts interviews for those who want to pursue a formal theological education. Many apply and interviews are conducted. In many of the interviews, it becomes clear that a good number of the candidates do not meet admission requirements. Some of them clearly are not believers (it seems). Others struggle to explain their faith or even explain the gospel that they believed in order to be saved. Obviously, such individuals should not be admitted into the seminary to be prepared as pastors. Right? Not so sure!!!

The problem is that these same individuals are currently pastoring churches as lay pastors. Some have been pastors for 5 years and other more. Now, they are deciding to go to school and learn more. These are the ones who can afford to go to seminary and yet, they are not qualified.

What then should be done in such situations, when it is clear that these pastors who do not qualify to enter the seminary are going back to continue their pastoral work? Two options:

First option is admit them as a service to the church to keep it from continuing to sink deep in wrong doctrines. But, then, with whom do you replace them? Churches cannot find pastors since there are more churches than trained pastors. So, we say no to admitting them to seminary, and send them back to their churches. Is this helpful?

A second solution is most likely, but requires commitment. While they are rejected from entering the seminary, the seminary can be taken to them informally. In this scenario, the pastors go back to their churches, but we provide them with a biblically-grounded curriculum that will help them grow in their knowledge of Scripture, and in turn help the Christians grow through teaching. We go into an area where theological education is lacking, set up a training center in one close location where pastors can attend without having to leave their churches on the weekends. We send teachers for one week, three times a year for three or four years, five days a week for 4-8 hours a day. At the end of the three years, the pastors would have received between 60-120 hours of theological education. This is reasonable and when done well, will equip pastors to be equippers.

You see, theological education does not only have to take place in a traditional seminary setting. Informal training programs, like the one just described, will introduce the Bible to pastors and prepare them to be better preachers and teachers of the word for the good of the church.

Training Leaders International believes in this informal approach to theological education as a way of filling in the gaps, and as a way of helping meet the need to put trained pastors into local churches.


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Some Statistics

Oct. 20, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Here are some statistics from Philip Jenkin's book The Next Christendom:

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, Europeans dominated the world church with 70.6% of the Christian population.  By the end of the 20th century, the percentage had shrunk to 28% with Latin America and Africa providing 43% of the world's Christians.
  • In 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians representing 10% of the population.  In 2000, there were 360 million Christians representing 50% of the population.
  • The number of African Christians is growing at around 2.36% annually.
  • In 2050 Christianity will chiefly be the religion of Africa and the African diaspora.
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Activism in an Age of Social Media

Oct. 14, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio


HT: Andrew Wilson

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Ten Reasons You Cannot be a Missionary

Oct. 13, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

From David Sills:

1. I don’t have the training I need to be a missionary.

2. I couldn’t raise the kind of support I would need.

3. I’ve been divorced.

4. I have some medical issues.

5. I have student loans.

6. I’m not a preacher/theologian/church planter.

7. I can’t learn languages.

8. Our children are too old/young.

9. I’m too old.

10. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to adjust to the food, dirt, heat, traffic, crime . . .

Read the whole thing here.

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Thirteen Questions to Assess If You Are Intellectually Humble

Sep. 26, 2014By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

From Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso:

Even when you feel strongly about something, are you still aware that you could be wrong?

Do you trust that truth has nothing to fear from investigation?

When someone disagrees with your beliefs, do you view it as a personal attack? If so, why?

Think of a recent time you became defensive when someone disagreed with you. What may have been underlying your feelings in that moment?

Do you reserve the right to change your mind? Or do you feel weak or ashamed to change a strongly held opinion?

Is it difficult to respect people whose beliefs differ from your own?

What is a specific step you can take to better understand someone who disagrees with you on an important issue?

Do you feel insecure when others disagree with you?

Do you feel like you need to hide past errors in your thinking?

What would it take for you to feel more comfortable acknowledging to others when you’ve been wrong in your thinking?

Do you feel less worthy when you realize you’ve made a mistake in your thinking?

Do you approach others with the idea that you might have something to learn from them?

Are you open to learning new things every day? Even if it means changing previous ideas?

HT: Biola

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