It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million pastoral leaders outside the U.S. and an overwhelming majority of them have very little to no theological training. In order to play our part in meeting this need, Chosen People has a vision of training 130,000 pastoral leaders around the world by 2040.
Prioritizing Global Pastoral Training
In a recent blog post, I mentioned the epidemic of syncretism and false teaching in the global church. After five years of working with pastoral leaders in Latin America and South Asia, we realize that syncretism has passed unnoticed for years. What’s worse is that there are still North American mission organizations undertaking a variety of missions, yet, desiring not to “get their hands dirty”, choose not to engage the global church in providing theological training, and many times, correcting false teaching.
We have come to realize that a return to a strong emphasis on training pastoral leaders is an urgent task and is essential to the completion of the Great Commission given to us by King Jesus. In light of this “theological famine” in the global church, I am convinced that the greatest need in the global church today is the training of pastoral leaders in sound doctrine, godliness, and the ability to communicate God’s truth to God’s people. Therefore, we believe that we can best advance the kingdom of Christ in the world through the training of His leaders in biblical doctrine and practice.
Raising Up Trainers to Equip Pastoral Leaders
In order to respond well to this global theological famine, we have designed a 2-year certificate-level program in theological studies. Our own curriculum has as an underlying theme of shepherding God’s people to live faithfully on God’s mission. This is what we desire to see from those who have completed our theological training. We see this in the words of the apostle Peter, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV) This is God’s purpose for His people. It is both a call to holy living and a call to good works.
This is God’s purpose for His people. It is both a call to holy living and a call to good works.
We also have a unique aspect to our ministry compared to other organizations—raising up trainers from the local context to equip pastoral leaders. We believe this is a vital aspect to seeing a healthy church in the future. Because of certain contexts and learning styles, mobilizing national trainers is one of the healthiest ways to provide under-resourced pastoral leaders with theological training. That is not to say that theological training delivered via internet or theological training delivered a few times a year by North American missionaries is invalid.
In many contexts around the world, mentoring is transformational when done face-to-face. Pastoral training is most effective in most of the world’s cultures with this kind of life-on-life teaching. In face-to-face, collective, group-oriented cultures, this “mentoring” type model is even more important and crucial for thorough pastoral training. We desire to see our trainers serve as both professors and mentors to pastoral leaders.
Because of certain contexts and learning styles, mobilizing national trainers is one of the healthiest ways to provide under-resourced pastoral leaders with theological training.