Two thousand years ago, Jesus left a command for his disciples to fulfill. It is the most comprehensive and challenging command given—to make disciples of all nations and teach all to obey all of Jesus’ teachings. We can observe great strides in the world mission movement, yet a paradox seems evident. While there are more Christians in the world each day, more Bible translations, more unreached people groups hearing or reading the Gospel, and more and better resources for conducting a mission, churches are losing their influence and impact in their communities. The church’s declining impact is observable by the seeming increase in poverty, injustice, corruption, and violence. Jesus taught, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:38-39 NASB. If the latter part of the command is not taking place, one might assume that the former part of the command is not a present reality. We cannot love God and not love our neighbors.
Top leaders worldwide state that the number one challenge they have is to equip godly leaders who will lead their congregations to love God, obey Him, and love their neighbors. Until congregations and ministries are led by transformed leaders to lead God’s work, the clause in the Great Commission, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,” remains largely unfulfilled.
Leadership training is a critical and ongoing challenge, for which there are no instant solutions. Bible schools, seminaries, mission organizations, and local churches care about and invest time and resources to meet this growing need. Despite all these efforts, however, the need remains unmet. Leaders’ training is losing ground as seminaries and Bible schools worldwide experience shrinking enrollment, and some close their doors.
Leaders who need training face limited access to these schools and programs, sometimes for reasons such as:
— It may not be feasible for them to travel to or live at the schools.
— They cannot afford the training.
— They lack time because they are working a job and are needed in their local ministries.
— Schools often use traditional Western academic approaches, which lack contextual fit.
— Classes and textbooks require English or some other majority language other than the learners heart language.
— Schools may require those wishing to enroll to achieve academic levels that have not been possible to attain.
iTEE University’s Three-pronged Solution
Move education from the classroom to the field where leaders serve. Today, this is taking place using the Internet, where teachers meet students in their homes or on the field through face-to-face interactive seminars.
Multiply through transformed student leaders who become disciple-makers. Each learner learns Bible knowledge, develops godly character, gains new skills, and becomes a teacher. That students become teachers is the key to solving today’s problem addressing a critical training need among pastors and leaders. Each learner is challenged to join a four-generation process of discipling new generations of leaders who will teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Change the teacher’s role. Instead of delivering the main content to the student (requiring a high degree of education), iTEE University trained teachers facilitate courses available through iTEE University. These courses are designed to be facilitated in person or online so that teachers need not be course material experts. Instead, these facilitators make it their purpose to help students engage with course content, serve the student in character development, and stimulate them to apply course learning to real-world ministry.
Millions of pastors, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, women’s ministry leaders, youth leaders, children’s workers, and other ministry oriented organizational leaders are without adequate training. The Body of Christ is one globally. Together, we must care enough for those of our brothers and sisters who have a deep heart for God but do not have the resources, means, or opportunities to become mature disciple-makers. Along with our brothers and sisters without training, we also have been called to be disciple-makers. Would you join us in this global 21st-century quest to make it our mission to train up new generations of disciple-makers who will continue the process to the fourth generation?
Dr. George J. Law
Austin, TX ©2020