Our goal in this country was unreasonable. We wanted to start a training movement in a developing country using farmers. The need was clear. There were millions of believers among the minority populations. These minorities were poor, marginalized, and in desperate need of sound Biblical teaching. Revivals spurred by missionary movements in the 1960s and radio broadcasts in the 1990s had led to an explosion in people coming to Christ. However, without mature leaders who could disciple others, there were real problems facing the church.
The church was ripe for cults. Anyone with a dynamic personality could twist Scripture intentionally or unintentionally and pull hundreds and thousands of spiritually hungry people to them. The church was experiencing syncretism as they blended old animistic practices and beliefs with a small amount of Biblical understanding. In some cases the church was already falling prey to a generational collapse as the faith of the initial believers was not transmitted to the next generation.
What if we could train leaders to be more effective teachers in their congregations and empower them to train others to do the same? What if this training could happen anywhere, at any time, with any kind of leader? What if leaders could be trained as they are put into leadership so that they are better equipped to continue the spread of the Gospel?
We began teaching a group of pastors.
Fast forward 5 years and we are at a certification. Members of our group of pastors are there to be certified in four core courses (Old Testament, New Testament, Basic Theology and Bible Themes), which make up our first level of courses for this kind of student. However, these students are not alone. They have brought 80 of their students and some of these have brought a few of their students as well! Our first group of farmers have taught more than one thousand church leaders who have taught thousands of others! A movement has begun!
And now we stand on new ground. There is a pastoral training movement happening right now, but the work is not yet finished.
First, the movement is happening strongly in four out of a targeted thirteen provinces. We must find a way to engage the other nine provinces. Please pray for guidance as we move forward to engage these areas using the pastors who are already trained and reproducing in other places.
Second, transference of our memorized motions and phrases was strong but our recent certification showed that there are holes in our students’ abilities. One hole is in the area of application. The ability to take a Biblical truth and apply it to a local congregation is a skill that must be developed. Unless these pastors are able to show Christians in their context how the Bible must impact their lives, it will not lead to lasting growth. Another hole is that the students appreciate the different teaching methods we use but are slow to apply them to their own teaching. This limits the effectiveness of their teaching and ultimately will slow down the progress of the movement. Pray that these farmer-pastors will develop the confidence to try new ways of teaching and that we have discernment as we guide them in the process.
In response, we are now preparing a new course that focuses on teaching methods and drawing out practical application. Combined with a close working relationship with national Christian leadership, this new course should increase the effectiveness of our trainers and allow the movement to spill over into other areas. We need wisdom as we create this new course so that it will empower teachers to improve their skills and teach the Bible more effectively to their congregations.
We began with unreasonable goals but have seen God do a work that we could not imagine. The task is not finished but we serve a God who accomplishes wonderful things. Pray that His Gospel will Advance.