Monday, May 03, 2010

Theological education via Internet

Church planting is an interesting pursuit, especially regarding spiritual leadership. The most important qualifications for an elder or deacon are found in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus, and almost all of the relate not to academics or to formal education but rather to spiritual charater and maturity, testimony and integrity. Nevertheless, one of the qualifications for an elder is that he be "able to teach," and Paul encourages Timothy to "preach the Word, in season and out of season." To preach the Word, you must know the Word, and be at least a step or two ahead of your congregation.

The church planting philosophy we've adopted enables men to grow into spiritual leadership. The emphasis is on the biblical requirements that I mentioned above. Sometimes, however, there has been little or no formal Bible training one year of Bible college, no special intensive summer of training. The strengths of this approach are many: the multiplication of leaders, a relatively shorter time required for a church to become missionary-independent, a focus on personal discipleship and evangelism rather than on formal theological education.

Nevertheless, there is obviously a need for a more in-depth training. How to do that...when most pastors work part or full time as well as minister? One-day or weekend conferences are helpful. Friend Toño Muñoz recently gave a workshop here on How to Interpret the Bible. But with technological advances, other options are becoming available.

I serve on the board of the Puebla Bible Seminary. We have been discussing an exciting option; to partner with existing, doctrinally-sound internet-based theological education sources, providing on-site, face-to-face interaction time once a month or so to complement the online work.

You can take a look at one of the online options by clicking here... Instituto Interglobal. This is the particular program that we're considering. Another good option is ProMeta.

I spoke to Martin, Miguel and David last Saturday night, where we always talk about weighty plans and one of the many local taco stands. As we ate beef and intestine tacos, we talked about this option. It could turn into a pilot program for the Seminary. We'll see!

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