There has been a recent move by many organizations to create training materials from recorded lectures. In the US, these recordings are sometimes used to create material for online classes. Abroad, they are used to train pastors. Is this the way of the future?
It is certainly appealing. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets, you can pass out DVD's, or even better, allow access to the lectures via the internet. Seemingly, the price is right. This also allows pastors to listen to some of the greatest teachers in the United States. Who wouldn't want to learn preaching from Bryan Chapell or New Testament from Don Carson?
So why has TLI made a conscious decision not to go in this direction?
1. This kind of teaching is nothing more then information dumping. While I can say that there are many lectures that I have personally benefited from, the reality is that they were given in my culture, with word pictures I understand, with analogies I get and with examples that make sense. You can't teach everything in a Western style everywhere. It just doesn't work.
2. We believe that teaching must include interaction. If I am puzzled by what I am hearing or want to challenge what is being said, I need the teacher in front of me to do so. This helps me to think through what I am saying and formulate an opinion. How many more studies do we need to show us that listening to a lecture by itself is a terrible means of learning.
3. It depersonalizes ministry. Call it preference, but I want to know the person that is teaching me. I want to see them interact with people. I want to see how they respond to good and bad questions. I want them to model what it means to be a godly Christian teacher and I certainly want to ask application questions of them that directly apply to my scenario.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.