|This last month has been incredibly busy, filled with many exciting ministry developments throughout Global Training Network. Because of that, it’s been awhile since I have shared an update on my blog.
I did want to give you a brief update from the Desiring God National Pastors Conference in Minneapolis, MN that took place this past weekend (Sept. 23-25). GTN was invited to host a booth at this year’s conference for the first time.
Once again, God’s timing is perfect – the theme of this years’ conference was “Finish the Mission,” and we had the opportunity to share GTN’s vision with hundreds of the almost 3,000 pastors and leaders who attended the conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Everyone was challenged to “see the nations” (ethne – or ‘people groups’) as God sees them – in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of our call to make sure that this message gets out to all who have not heard.
One of the threads that ran through the entire conference was the clear and compelling need to provide quality biblical training to indigenous pastors and leaders throughout the developing world.
Speakers such as Louie Giglio, David Platt, Ed Stetzer, David Sills and John Piper all emphasized God’s heart for the nations.
Another exciting part of the conference was the session taught by Dr. David Sills, (pictured to the right with me at the Desiring God conference) Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Throughout Dr. Sills’ session he made the compelling case for teaching and training pastors and leaders in the neediest parts of the world. He said the “Great Omission” of the Great Commission is “teachingthem to obey everything I have commanded you.”
He went on to say that if we want “long term results that last for generations, then we must take seriously the task of providing solid biblical and theological training to the pastors and leaders.”
Dr. Sills also pointed out that in our “need for speed” to evangelize the whole nation and see them reached, we have neglected the hard, but necessary work of teaching and training the indigenous pastors around the world.
The fact remains: a church will typically not be any more mature or healthy than its pastor. If we want healthy, vibrant, God-glorifying churches, then we must first begin with developing “healthy, vibrant, God-glorifying” pastors!
I went out of his session and said to several who came by GTN’s booth, “Dr. Sills just made the most compelling case for why the ministry of GTN is so vitally important!”
Dr. Sills recently authored a book entitled, “Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience”– published by Moody Press (an excellent book by the way…I highly recommend it!).
Dr. David J. Hesselgrave, who is Professor Emeritus of Mission at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, wrote the following as part of his endorsement of “Reaching and Teaching:”
“North American missions had no more than gotten off the ground when missiologist Rufus Anderson visited the fields and made an all-important observation. He concluded that, if missionaries were suddenly to be withdrawn, schools, clinics and similar institutions would most likely continue on. The institution that would suffer most would be the church! Why? For lack of adequate leadership.
Both missions and missiology have undergone a sea change since then. But one characteristic persists to this present hour: imbalance! Some missionaries engage in ‘hit and run’ evangelism. Others are intent on eliminating poverty and transforming society. But – and much else- at the expense of raising up responsible, New Testament churches.”
Christopher J. H. Wright, who is the International Director of Langham Partnership International (John Stott Ministries, USA) and author of “The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative,” writes the following in the forward of “Reaching and Teaching:”
“Is there mission beyond evangelism (i.e. teaching and training)? Jesus certainly said so. Great Commission Line 3: ‘Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’ That’s how disciples are formed. And disciples (not converts) are what He told us to make. The apostle Paul certainly thought so. His first priority was to preach the gospel and plant churches. But then he worked tirelessly to make sure they grew in depth and maturity. He re-visited them. He wrote letters to them. He answered their questions and challenged their mistakes. He agonized in prayer over them.”
What David Sills, David Hesselgrave and Christopher Wright are saying is right at the heart of why Global Training Network exists!
Ed Stetzer, (pictured to the right with me at the Desiring God conference) President of LifeWay Research and a well-known author, gave this endorsement of Reaching and Teaching:“Reaching every people group with the Gospel is the task of the church. In Reaching and Teaching, Sills provides helpful guidance about the pace of the discipleship and training process of indigenous church leaders. With passion, he calls on missionaries, agencies, and the church to make theological training a cornerstone in the work of reaching the nations for Christ.”
It was incredibly encouraging to hear this message being shared over the weekend, and to see an emphasis on the need for pastoral and leadership training worldwide!
The Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé Timothy the following words:
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
Every pastor that we train around the world is challenged to find a “Timothy” to pass on what they have learned and continue the multiplication process.
This is what our 45+ staff members do in over 44 countries around the world. Our staff brings biblical and theological training to the neediest pastors in the poorest countries throughout the developing world! These pastors have virtually no access to any type of biblical or theological training (including over the internet because the majority don’t have access-much less their own computer-and if they can access it, the speed is pitifully slow).
As the late Ralph Winter said years ago, “There are 2 million functional pastors who…do not have a scrap of formal, theological education – and never will – the way things are going. Access is the problem.”
GTN is actively involved in helping to solve this problem. We believe that one of the most effective ways to see a nation reached and discipled for Christ is to train the “nationals” (the indigenous pastors and leaders) who can then take that training and pass it on to the people within their congregation(s).
This is the day we all look forward to…
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12 ESV)