In an effort to be creative and effective, many missionaries and pastors come up with all kinds of schemes to train national leadership on the mission field. This is especially seen in “closed” countries like, for instance, China. The claim is that a pastor can be trained much more quickly in a country like China because they are more hungry for training.

Because that is the line of thought, there are a couple different approaches. One is to have a pastor or missionary from America come for a short time and teach these pastors in training a couple Bible college classes. I have heard of an underground Bible college that claims it can teach a four-year degree in six months. Another way is to give these pastors a series of books (six, eight or twelve) that upon completion, they are fully trained for the ministry.

However, I believe there are three main reasons why these methods are insufficient in the training of men:

People are people

As much as we would like to think that just because they are Chinese or formerly Muslims that it automatically means that they can be trained much more effectively and quickly than their American counterparts is just simply not true. People are people. Yes, we all vary in differing aspects but we really are not all that different. If an American cannot earn a four-year degree in six months then I doubt a Chinese person can either.

Books and classes do not equal training

Books and classes are wonderful tools to help train pastors but completion of seminary courses or workbooks does not a pastor make. If that was the case, Jesus would have needed only to teach a few formal classes and give the disciples a few books then He could head on up to heaven saying mission accomplished. I am not against Bible colleges but to say that by earning a degree you are instantly prepared for ministry is not true.

It is not what Jesus did

This was mentioned in the previous point but it is key: Jesus did not teach formal classes and give His disciples books then said that it was finished. Jesus had a life on life, mentor relationship with His disciples. He did ministry and life with them, teaching along the way. When He left, they simply followed His example in doing the ministry. We like to try to mass produce pastors but what we see Jesus doing was not mass production but person-specific training to train others. If that is good enough for Jesus then it is good enough for me.

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