It has been well documented that Christianity's center of gravity has shifted away from Western countries toward the South and East. Those who have studied this movement are typically referring to the sheer number conversions in Africa, Asia and South America. What they are not referring to is educational opportunities and well-trained theologians.
The lag between the explosive church growth and training accentuates the need for the global church to work together to help raise up Christian scholars and trained leaders from the emerging center of Christianity. Western mission agencies have not been as helpful as they could be as some have completely bandoned theological education in favor of planting churches and as such there are many empty buildings where places of theological training existed even 30 years ago.
On top of this, most of our new brothers and sisters come from poor contexts where education is hard to access. In many instances, if a person wants to enter into theological studies or just be trained for pastoral ministry at a western lay-level understanding, they must first overcome their own level of education. To enter the world of theological disciplines one must also learn English, which can be an insurmountable task for many, leaving them without many wonderful books and commentaries. To make it more difficult, there are many places where theological institutions cannot operate above ground and find it hard to organize, fund and deliver helpful resources to those looking for training.
While there is much to celebrate in the reported success of evangelistic efforts around the world, many are concerned about the long-term viability of these churches, and have tried to bring theological education and basic ministry training to the global church. Certainly education does not guarantee orthodoxy, but well-trained pastors, whether in partnerships with schools or in the context of local churches can provide stability and protection for God's people.
In many ways there has been an inadvertent geographical myopia as many have wondered whether the West even needs more theological scholars. The job market is difficult, so we say in the West, and many PhD holders work at coffee shops hoping to become adjunct professors at a college or seminary. All the while there is a significant need for well-trained teachers to be spread out around the world.
The impetus for this journal is born out of three desires. One is to provide the global church an opportunity to interact with each other on topics that impact them directly. As such, we have committed to making this journal free of charge and translating the content into a variety of languages in order to provide non-English readers access to theological discussions.
The second is to spur on those in particular who have an overwhelming amount of access to educational opportunities to see the need more clearly and possibly be moved to even help meet that need. It might require moving to another culture or committing to partnering with someone to offer modular courses where the need is great. One might think we are referring primarily of Americans, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge that there are many good theologians that have arisen from places like Kenya, Brazil, Korea and Singapore.
Lastly, we hope that the issues raised in this journal will be both challenging and encouraging to readers around the world. Whether we are introducing an unknown story of a Christian leader's work or examining the manner in which particular passages from the Bible impact different cultures, we trust the reader will have their eyes opened to the impact and complexity of Christian faith around the world.
We are not the first to acknowledge what the needs plainly are. It is our sincere desire to serve alongside the countless organizations that are serving the global church so that, "speaking the truth in love, [we, the church] grow up in every way into him who is the head... joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (Eph. 4:15-16).