The apostle Paul was clear. The risen, ascended Christ gave certain gifted persons – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – for one very simple and vitally important reason: “to equip the saints” (Ephesians 4:11-12). These apostolic leadership gifts are not professionals doing the work of ministry; they are equippers, trainers, coaches, provided to resource and empower the members of the Body of Christ so they can effectively do the work of the ministry.
That equipping role involves a variety of leadership functions, including counseling, mentoring, and instructing. It is impossible to fulfill this leadership role without having some kind of clear vision and plan for the effective, systematic training of “the saints.” While we know this is true, at the same time we are seeing a very serious “Christian education gap” in the American church. Christian researchers have shown American Christians to be biblically illiterate. They no longer have a consistent biblical worldview, seeing life through cultural and political lenses. And their lifestyles demonstrate that fact. Responsibility can only be laid at the feet of one group: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
For thirty-three years we have been challenging local church leaders to reengage the congregation in a lifelong commitment to learning, training and equipping for the sake of God’s Kingdom. And we have worked hard to develop Christian higher education resources and programs to facilitate effective equipping in the local church. Local pastors are primarily shepherds – feeders and leaders – of the flock, a responsibility that requires a commitment to Christian education. It’s up to local pastors to cast a clear and powerful vision for Christian education to the saints, and that requires that local pastors see this vision for themselves and for the flock. Unfortunately, without such a vision, pastoral leaders may see Christian education as just one more church program, just something more to do in an already too-busy life. While financial considerations and educational accomplishments are important, the need for Kingdom training and equipping, for lifelong learning and personal growth, are even more important. Local pastoral leaders have an important gathering, shepherding function. They are to lead, feed and protect the flock. Their training and equipping is focused on individual Christ followers discovering and fulfilling their God-given calling and potential. They are to equip the saints to represent the King in their families, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and communities.
Lately, we have been seeing a broader need for Christian higher education. A vision for apostolic ministry and leadership has shown the need for systematic training and equipping that includes but goes beyond the needs of a local community. While local pastoral leaders have a gathering function, apostolic leaders have a sending function. Apostolic leaders have a foundational vision for the local church and community, but they also have a global vision. Apostolic leaders see the need to train and equip Kingdom leaders for the world. Local pastoral leaders cannot fulfill their Kingdom assignment without a consistent, systematic program of Christian education. However, apostolic ministry and leadership is not possible without an apostolic center of Christian higher education.
The apostle Paul was clear. The risen, ascended Christ gave certain gifted persons – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – for one very simple and vitally important reason: “to equip the saints” (Ephesians 4:11-12). These leadership gifts are not professionals doing the work of the ministry; they are equippers, trainers, coaches, provided to resource and empower the members of the Body of Christ so they can effectively do the work of the ministry.
That equipping role involves a variety of leadership functions, including counseling, mentoring, and instructing. It is impossible to fulfill this leadership role without having some kind of clear vision and plan for the effective, systematic training of “the saints.” While we know this is true, at the same time we are seeing a very serious “Christian education gap” in the American church. Christian researchers have shown American Christians to be biblically illiterate. They no longer have a consistent biblical worldview, seeing life through cultural and political lenses. And their lifestyles demonstrate that fact. Responsibility can only be laid at the feet of one group: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
For thirty-three years we have been challenging local church leaders to reengage the congregation in a lifelong commitment to learning, training and equipping for the sake of God’s Kingdom. And we have worked hard to develop Christian higher education resources and programs to facilitate effective equipping in the local church. Local pastors are primarily shepherds – feeders and leaders – of the flock, a responsibility that requires a commitment to Christian education. It’s up to local pastors to cast a clear and powerful vision for Christian education to the saints, and that requires that local pastors see this vision for themselves and for the flock. Unfortunately, without such a vision, pastoral leaders may see Christian education as just one more church program, just something more to do in an already too-busy life. While financial considerations and educational accomplishments are important, the need for Kingdom training and equipping, for lifelong learning and personal growth, are even more important. Local pastoral leaders have an important gathering, shepherding function. They are to lead, feed and protect the flock. Their training and equipping is focused on individual Christ followers discovering and fulfilling their God-given calling and potential. They are to equip the saints to represent the King in their families, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and communities.
Lately, we have been seeing a broader need for Christian higher education. A vision for apostolic ministry and leadership has shown the need for systematic training and equipping that includes but goes beyond the needs of a local community. While local pastoral leaders have a gathering function, apostolic leaders have a sending function. Apostolic leaders have a foundational vision for the local church and community, but they also have a global vision. Apostolic leaders see the need to train and equip Kingdom leaders for the world. Local pastoral leaders cannot fulfill their Kingdom assignment without a consistent, systematic program of Christian education. However, apostolic ministry and leadership is not possible without an apostolic center of Christian higher education.