With Reformation 500 and all that talk of ninety-five theses behind us, what about the ninety-five percent of local church leaders with little or no theological training? It is time for the reformation of our training priorities, a revolution in resourcing in order to BUILD God’s present and future Church.
Ninety-five percent. Ninety-five out of every hundred of those who actually lead, care for and teach congregations in the world today, the majority of whom are in the global South, and many of those on the African continent. Yes, it is an estimate (sources here), based on the approximately five percent of church leaders who have formal theological education, meaning, conversely, that ninety-five percent do not.
But ninety-five. And if anything this shocking global estimate underestimates the problem in the global South, where it is intensified and exacerbated due to the unequal distribution of global Christian resources: it is estimated that around sixty percent of the world’s Christians access only seventeen percent of those total resources. This is then compounded by the fact that the limited resources are invested in forms of training that are inaccessible and often inappropriate for the majority.
So, at the start of 2018, beyond Reformation 500, here is a brief reminder of what BUILD is all about. First, a new arithmetic, that of multiplication as well as addition. The mathematics of traditional training is the slow trickle of one-plus-one equals two. Constant and considered, with all sorts of advantages, but addition none the less. The cascade that is needed is that of twelve-times-twelve equals one hundred and forty-four. Second, a new approach, that creatively couples non-formal and formal forms of training. To achieve multiplication BUILD recognises the importance and experience of existing systems, but wants to couple non-formal, group based learning in situ, to formal, mixed-mode training of trainers. Finally, to break the barrier students face on leaving formal training, and the rupture that results, it puts a dynamic, locally developed curriculum in their hands, that not only equips them to equip others, but helps them to grow and to continue to grow in the process.
Ninety-five percent with little or no training, and the bulk of training resources being directed towards the minority who have the education and resources and mobility to access them. Isn’t it time to change the statistics with the revolutionary spirit of reformation?