Theological Starvation and Hungry Leaders

I’m not much of a statistician. I have never been very good with numbers. In fact, I tell people that once numbers get beyond chapter and verse, I’m lost. But recently I was confronted with some numbers and statistics that I can’t stop thinking about.

According to Training Leaders International:

There’s one formally trained pastor per 230 people in the United States (1:230).

But this wasn’t the statistic that surprised me! Look at the rest of the world:

There’s one formally trained pastor per 450,000 people outside the United States (1:450,000), and an estimated 5 million pastors in the 10/40 window have no access to any biblical training.

My jaw dropped when I read this. An estimated 1.9 million people live in the metropolitan area of my home city (Columbus, Ohio). If Columbus were located outside the U.S., then it would only have about 4 trained pastors in its entire metro area!

As Americans, we can’t even comprehend this idea. We’ve become so accustomed to our well-trained, seminary-educated pastors that we cannot even begin to imagine having a pastor with the equivalent of a grade school education.

Crucially, a lack of theological education can lead to false teaching and a misunderstanding of the Gospel. These pastors simply don’t have access to the books and resources necessary for building others up to become deeply rooted disciples of the Lord Jesus.

In light of this I am so excited for the Church Equipping Network of Encompass World Partners. Its goal is to provide theological training for church leaders across the globe so that new churches and new believers can be firmly established in the Gospel.

One notable outpost of this network is in Cameroon, where the Bible Institute of Yaoundé is beginning its very first classes today! 24 students begin their training in order to meet a great spiritual need in the country (there are currently 40 churches and 40 church plants in Cameroon, but only four trained pastors). Through the institute, many will be adequately prepared to preach the Gospel, lead churches, and multiply disciples of Jesus. Praise God!

My heart is stirred for the deep need I see around the world. We are moved when we see children in other countries dying of hunger because of terrible famine—and we should be moved. We must also be moved to action by the theological famine taking place, as well. It’s just like Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Pray, give, and go for the sake of the Gospel and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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