Having just returned from a fast and furious week of Bible teaching to pastors in India, I am pleased to report that the Church is thriving in the capable hands of our Indian brothers and sisters. I was a guest speaker and teacher at the Feed My Lambs Ministries (FMLM) annual pastors conference near Bangalore, India, where I presented a short course on hermenuetics and preached several sermons on Christ as a servant Leader. I sought to inspire these pastors and other church leaders to center their ministries on His word, but after a week watching the Spirit working in these believers, I was the one inspired by their excitement and passion for the word.
As I've seen in the Unites States and elsewhere recently, the Spirit is moving in India to raise up pastors and teachers from outside the mainline denominations and traditional seminary programs. These nontraditional leaders have been called to fill the void created after many traditional Christian programs departed from teaching and preaching God's word. I am so excited to watch the Spirit purify His Church in India and elsewhere, and it gives me great hope for what may come from this new wave of ministry rooted in God's word.
We partnered with FMLM during this conference because they share our vision to deliver deep, methodical Biblical education to every Christian, regardless of role or position. Regrettably, the modern view of discipleship produces an unbiblical division between clergy (i.e., those who pursue a dedicated seminary program and are ordained) and the rest of the congregation, who are taught to depend on their clergy's Biblical knowledge for their spiritual maturity.
While the Bible does provide for different roles within the Body of Christ (e.g., pastors, teachers, etc.), it never suggests that these different roles should have different goals for Biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity. On the contrary, the Bible says all believers are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18). Therefore, we should teach all believers to a similar depth of knowledge, and we should exhort all believers to pursue Biblical education with equal fervor and dedication.
In a sense, every Christian should seek a seminary education...or go beyond what seminaries offer, since many seminaries have retreated from delivering a Biblically-sound education. Equally important, pastors should continue to seek Bible training and instruction even after they attain their pastoral positions. Every pastor should remain a student, constantly seeking a higher understanding of Scripture even as he endeavors to teach others.
All believers are called upon to obtain spiritual maturity and to engage in a life-long pursuit of Biblical knowledge. Though some believers are gifted to teach, all are expected to learn (see Heb 5:11 - 6:3), and so our ministry is partnering with others like FMLM to promote serious, Biblical education for all believers. We pray the Lord will be pleased with our direction.