On Wednesday I had the opportunity to meet with several dozen seminary Presidents from around the world who are part of a ministry known as Overseas Council. For over forty years, Overseas Council has been mentoring and training leaders from around the world who are now leading emerging seminaries, churches and mission agencies to serve the dramatic growth of Christianity in the Majority World. Sometimes we forget that church growth inevitably stimulates the growth of seminaries and mission agencies, because the latter exist to serve the local church. When any church movement emerges, they quickly cry out for trained pastors. When any church planting ministry emerges, they quickly cry out for trained missionaries, and so forth.
The gathering in Indianapolis is part of a mentoring program whereby seasoned seminary Presidents from around the world are paired with newly appointed seminary Presidents. Mentoring happens throughout the year. However, once a year all the Presidents and mentors come together for sharing of ideas, intensive training sessions and shared problem solving. When you are part of a gathering like this you cannot help but sense that you are really on the front lines helping the church in the extension of the gospel. I have longed believed that training men and women for leadership in the church is one of the most important and sacred tasks of the church.
Brothers and sisters, the global church is on the move! They are planting churches at a blistering rate. People are responding to the gospel in unprecedented ways. There are, of course, a myriad of problems. No movement of the Spirit is not without messiness and the ever present signs of human frailty. But, beneath it all one cannot help but see the mighty hand of God.
I am indebted to Dr. David Bauer, Professor of Inductive Bible Study at Asbury Theological Seminary for first pointing out to me the significance of Acts 5 where we encounter the honesty of the New Testament as it records the story of Ananias and Sapphira right in the midst of the account of dramatic growth. It is a good reminder. Don’t let the unfaithfulness of the Ananias’ and Sapphira’s who pop up in every generation keep you from seeing the amazing work of God. It is all too easy to fall into despair and forget that Jesus promised that He will build His Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it! The church is not merely the instrument of God’s work in the world; the church is what God is building in the world. The bride is being prepared for the marriage supper of The Lamb (Rev. 21:1-4). Thanks be to God!–