Over two years ago I read a paper by David Sills entitled “Teaching Them: The Great Omission of the Great Omission,” and things changed for me. Dr. Sills’ paper did not present a radical new missions strategy but called evangelical missions back to the Bible. The issue he addressed was not one of heresy, but overemphasis. In the well-intentioned rush to reach all the nations with the gospel, un-discipled and anemic churches were left to fend for themselves. His desire was not to slow down gospel movement around the globe, but neither was it to neglect existing churches in need of help. The result for my life was a clarified call to move my family to Cameroon to teach and disciple future African pastors.
This paper has grown into the recent book Reaching and Teaching: A Call To Great Commission Obedience. I have been waiting for a book to say what this book says for a while. Sills writes: “The Great Commission is not just about evangelism or church planting. Jesus said to make disciples of all the ethnic groups of the world and to do that by teaching them to observe all that He commanded us” (p. 13, italic original). Certainly, the Great Commission includes evangelism, church planting, and frontier missions to the unreached. In fact, one might say these three applications are at the forefront of Great Commission obedience. However, just as the apostle Paul circled back to encourage and train the churches he had already planted, we must not neglect teaching and training future leaders of indigenous churches. If you are a pastor, Bible teacher, or seminary student, read Sills’ book. You will see the problem of the global leadership gap facing the church and be forced to wrestle with finding your place in addressing it.
Rusty Osborne is a PhD student at Mid-America Seminary. Before that he taught at Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary.
Rusty Osborne serves as Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Old Testament at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is passionate about cultivating a love for the Old Testament within the international church community. Before moving to Missouri with his wife Sara and three children: Sophia, Eleanor, and Moses, he served as a missionary and faculty member at the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary in Cameroon, West Africa. He has also taught with Training Leaders International in Nairobi, Kenya. Both he and Sara love the outdoors, running, and missions. Rusty particularly enjoys fly fishing.