As our ministry host explains, the church here is wide but it is not deep. When the cinderblock and tin roof cathedrals fill each Sunday, the free flowing worship is often more planned out than the preaching. Few pastors throughout this city have received any training, and sermons might be entirely extemporaneous or plagiarized. We have discovered that the resulting false doctrines and harmful theologies are as common as the ornately lettered church signs posted throughout this city of 500,000.
These pastors already know the Bible stories and love their people well. As they are being taught how to identify and apply the main ideas from scripture in their teaching, they are exploding with confidence and enthusiasm. One pastor told me “This truly is a special moment for us. We have just been using the sermons of others, this has been our way. But now each of us may take the messages of Scripture and deliver them!”
There’s an Ethiopian proverb that says something like “grain and corn in the kitchen does not make a cook.” It takes more than a Bible in your hand to preach. Through the grace of God, the generosity of donors, and the labor of the TLI team these eager pastors have now learned how to feed their churches and country with the word of God and the bread of life.
Our host here said, “We have plenty of preachers who like to talk, but few who put in the work of study. In the pulpit we have theologian tabloids. We need preacher’s of God’s Word.”