Back To the Missionary Future
Equipper to Missionaries to America Dr. Todd Jones
Todd Jones has a doctorate and works in the trenches. He eschews the ivory tower to walk with missionaries on the grass roots of mission. We forget that for hundreds of years there were no formal, concrete seminaries preparing Christian pastors or missionaries. Jones’ work is a return to an older way of preparing missionaries: bringing the seminary to where the mission is. Like Jesus, and St. Paul and the earliest church.
St. Paul moved from city to city, identifying local leaders. He began their preparation for mission work, then moved on. He used the distance education strategy of visits by mature Christians and epistles to continue their formation.
Dr. Jones is developing a first step online course to prepare missionaries in Michigan for a second step, a distance education program to certify immigrant missionaries as public ministers of the gospel.
The missionaries are new to America but seasoned in their Christian faith. They were torn out of their homelands to be thrust into a strange culture. Being the leader of a Christian community in America is alien to their first ecclesiastic formation. The Holy Spirit still impels them to preach the gospel and there are many in America who want and need to hear the message of salvation through faith in Jesus alone. Like the Swahili speaking immigrants from the Congo. Now in Michigan, they graduated from seminary in Africa and need certification for public ministry in the United States.
As immigrants they do not have the resources of time and money to leave their families, their jobs, their states to be educated in a brick and mortar seminary. More important, if they left Michigan then the missions they now serve would have great difficulty. Besides, a distance education program in some ways is better than the traditional route.
When candidates are removed from their communities and brought to a central seminary their formation tends to me monolithic. I saw this when I was a seminary student: the few African American students in my seminary class were formed in the same way as the White students – to be pastors of White suburban congregations. Many of those who ended up serving rural or urban churches or ethnicities other than White had to relearn what it meant to be a minister. Others simply put in their time and left the congregation or left the ministry.
Adult learning is “action-reflection,” and asynchronous – available when the student can devote their time and energy. According to Dr. Jones, those already in ministry learn better when they suddenly realize they are faced with a need to know the ancient learnings about the Trinity, or end of life issues, or Biblical views of Christian marriage and family.
Back to the Missionary Future!
Hear Dr. Todd Jones sharing about equipping Missionaries to America