On-field Theological Education for Pastors and Evangelists
We are involved in providing on-field theological education to the ambitious pastors and evangelists in the countries of the 10/40 Window, who otherwise could not afford to go to Bible school for their basic theological, spiritual and leadership formation. We are currently focusing on developing India's rural church leadership.
Why Focus on Field Leaders/Church Planters in India?
- Why Focus on Field Leaders/Church Planters in India? The general fact is that 68% of India is still rural where God is moving powerfully. More than 2/3rds of the Indian church stands on the rural areas and the majority of those churches are independent, indigenous and charismatic. According to India Today, a leading newspaper, "Independent churches mushroom across India...These freelancers of God are growing while mainstream Churches are facing a decline in their missionary activities." Unfortunately, "these preachers are not trained in theology. They often play with the sentiments of people......and create communal tension. We are forced to take the blame for their wayward preaching methods," says Sister Annie, the principal of All Saint's Convent School in Ajnala, who has been working in Punjab since 1984. (India Today, April 30, 2011). Annie is right. But can we blame these "freelancers of God" who passionately preach Christ and establish congregations effectively in spite of financial and educational limitations and in spite of opposition, persecution, and suffering? Most of the self-made pastors and evangelist in India cannot not afford to go to Bible schools for their formal theological training before entering the Church planting ministry. They are convinced of their call for ministry and move forward with faith and persistence.
- In the age of education, technology and opposition to Christian mission, there are cultural and contextual logistics that the independent pastors need to be aware of in addition to their call for the ministry. Due to lack of Theological Training, many of them are unable to comply with social issues and make the gospel relevant or effective. One of the reasons Christians are opposed to the work of God in India is not due to Western form of Christianity alone, but lack of evangelists' or church planters' ability to make Gospel relevant to various demands and contexts of the day. No doubt that most of the non-Christians in India love Christ and accept His divinity. But the message of Christ is not articulated well enough to bring glory to God. Therefore, Serving Alongside International takes these aspects and challenges into consideration, and provides those independent Church Planters/Evangelists meaningful, culturally relevant and practical on-field training wherever they are so that they may serve the Lord with dignity, rationale and full of joy in their call for the ministry.
On Field Theological Training helps church leaders to:
Maintain dignity and handle the Word of God correctly (2 Tim 2:15)
Make gospel culturally relevant (I Cor 9:22)
Multiply the ministry (2 Tim 2:2)