Why is theological education still important?

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Steve Lancaster works with the Africa Inland Church Tanzania as a Bible teacher at the Institute of Bible & Ministry in Morogoro, Tanzania. Here, he shares about the importance of theological education and his passion for sound teaching.

The laptop kicked into life and I ‘clicked’ my way to the BBC website to peruse the latest news. Imagine my surprise to see an article entitled: “Is the Holy Spirit living in Africa?”!

A few clicks later and I’m reading about an African church denomination in the Democratic Republic of Congo called the Kimbanguist Church which apparently has over five million attendees. I’ll let the journalist pick up this rather bizarre story: “The town of Nkamba in DR Congo has an unusual resident – the Holy Spirit. Pilgrims travel many miles to the church to meet him, and on arrival, I too am taken to see the Holy Spirit. Old and young, men and women, all kneel before him as he stands there in a plain suit.” Unbelievable!


Discipleship and pastoral training

Verena Schafroth from Germany recently moved to Mozambique to work as a theological educator in Pemba. Here she shares her passion for theological education and discipleship.

This is not my first African adventure. I worked in South Sudan for three years, but on arrival here I soon realised that every African country poses its own set of challenges and blessings.

I have had discipleship and pastoral training on my heart for as long as I can remember. In Mozambique this means, at the most basic level – to simply connect with people at church and share life and my relationship with God with them. At a more organised level, it means teaching at the Colégio Teológico de Pemba, a small inter-denominational Bible school, training church leaders in the Pemba area. At the moment, I am preparing my lessons for an ‘Introduction to the New Testament’ course – I will need a lot of language grace for that one! I am praying that God will also open up a way for me to go to rural areas, as this is really where training is needed the most.

Teaching God’s word

So – why is theological education so important? Why is AIM involved in Bible teaching in over 14 different countries in Africa? Why do we place so much importance on teaching God’s word, training pastors and discipling believers in this colossal continent? Well, on the off chance that you might have missed the above connection, one of the reasons we’re passionate about teaching God’s word and engaging in discipleship is to help combat the false teaching which abounds in many churches, not just here in Africa, but around the world. In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul says: “you must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine”(Titus 2:1) –  and for those involved in theological education with AIM, whether that be under an acacia tree in the middle of the African bush or in a classroom at an academic level, that is of course what we are aiming to do.

Enabled by the Holy Spirit

Is the Holy Spirit living in Africa? Absolutely! But thankfully not in the form of Simon Kimbangu in Nkamba Town, Congo! The Holy Spirit is, however, living in and working through the lives of those who truly know Christ as their saviour, and he seeks to guide, counsel, convict, comfort and teach those who know him and allow him to. Thankfully, he’s also in the business of enabling and equipping his servants to “preach and teach the Word with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim 4:2).

This extract is from a longer article by Steve Lancaster that’s available on our blog.

Steve & Ruth Lancaster

Steve & Ruth Lancaster

Steve and Ruth work for the Africa Inland Church’s Institute of Bible & Ministry (IBM) in Tanzania. Ruth is the Communications Officer for IBM and her role involves helping to manage the Retreat Centre; handling bookings, accounting and budgeting; fundraising and publicity; and the teaching of occasional English courses. Steve is a Bible teacher, involved in the planning of the regional conferences and the teaching itself. He also preaches at a number of local churches, and is AIM’s Unit Leader for eastern Tanzania.

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