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PROJECT TOPIC: THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF LEADERS FOR THE CHURCH FROM ANCIENT ISRAEL TO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0.      INTRODUCTION

The emergence of the church on the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts chapter two could be traced back in time to the last chapters of the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16: 14-20; Luke. 24: 44-53), in those records lies the Great Commission that Jesus gave before his ascension. Inherent in these biblical accounts is the specific instruction to the believers of being sent to “make disciples … and teach…”

It is instructive to note that Jesus sent those he had trained and prepared (Mk. 3:13-19; Luke. 6:12-16) and here lies the unassailable fact: for there to be a fulfilment of the mission of the church,, the church must be at all times involved in the training, discipling, and teaching of all believers. This is the essence of theological training and Christian education in particular.

1.1.      BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Growing up as a son of a Pastor-Theologian exposed the researcher at a tender age to the age-long unresolved conflict between theological training and actual pastoral work; the researcher recalled questioning his father after reading through Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible if the content of the book accurately summarizes what is being taught at the seminary. The father’s answer in the affirmative never prepared him for the next question, “then why are most of the graduates not teaching and living these truths?”

This question still bothers the researcher’s heart as the researcher grew and observes in detail the difference between what pastors professes and practices; why is it that what is taught in the Seminary does not accurately depict the realities in the church? Today, as an emerging educator, theologian and pastor, that question has become the researcher’s personal quest to seek for answers that will bridge the gap between what is known and done; what is taught and lived, and find exactly what is the missing link that will make us truly say like the Apostle Paul, “pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).”[1]

The problem of leadership development in Christianity is as old as Christianity itself, and in responding to this great task several models have been developed through the ages to accomplish the task of providing quality, relevant, timely, and effective Theological Education to the body of Christ, especially at the leadership or ministerial cadre. As A.W. Tozer states, “The rewards of godly leadership are so great and the responsibility of the leaders so heavy that no one can afford to take the matter lightly.” (Emphasis mine.)

Dave Buckert writing in CCBT Newsletter asserted: “There is little doubt that one of most urgent issues facing the church in these critical times of doubt and confusion is the need for godly leaders. The church, indeed the whole world, desperately needs men and women who know God intimately, who look like Jesus Christ in their daily lives and who know how to help others to become mature disciples of Jesus.”[2]

“In many areas of the world—Asia, Africa and South America—the church is growing at a phenomenal rate. With this growth comes a commensurate need for mature, well-trained leaders. Over the past century the church has relied heavily on formal Theological Education for developing pastoral leadership. Although theological schools have adopted new strategies for reaching more students, such as Theological Education by Extension, satellite campuses, correspondence and later on-line classes, this mode of education cannot meet the increasing demand for pastors, teachers and missionaries. Local churches around the world need more trained leaders than these institutions will ever be able to produce.”[3]

But beyond the need for more trained leaders, equally important is the question, “What kind of theological training will give a solid and foundational basis for future Christian leaders to work in the contemporary world?  What kind of Theological Education will impact society as a whole and address the individuals who are growing increasingly distant from God and His kingdom?  To answer this question thoroughly, we need to realize that “for at least the last millennium of Christian history, if ever there were examples of the confusion of cultural values overwhelming truly Christian values it is in the area of training for ministry.”[4]


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