Why Theological Education is Important to You

OMF has given personnel and resources towards theological education for many years. It involves many different types of people, both teachers and students, for many different reasons. We contacted a few people involved in theological education to hear why it is important to them.

Rog & Jane Senior

— Western Teachers in the West, All Nations Christian College, UK

‘Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16–20 has traditionally been held as the prime justification for mission. This means that mission is about proclaiming the good news of Christ. However, we sometimes forget that at the centre of Jesus’ commission is a call to make disciples who will obey his commands.

‘The importance of this is seen in Jesus’ warning to his disciples to be on the lookout for false prophets who seek to deceive the people of God (Mt 24:24). If we are to maintain healthy mission and church growth it is vital that church leaders are effectively equipped with theological teaching. Although this is something local churches should be involved in, there is also a need for deeper theological reflection to make sure that the teaching grapples with issues that speak into the local contexts.

‘Leaders need to be equipped so that they can teach new believers to grow in Christ without being blown about by the winds of false teaching (Eph 4:11–16). The apostle Paul’s aim in his teaching of the young churches was to present everyone perfect in Christ (Col 1:28). That should be at the heart of all mission.’

Yonky Karman PhD

— Asian Teacher in Asia, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Indonesia

‘My early calling was to become a congregation minister. But after nine years the Lord made me see that it is important to train young people to become ministers. As an Old Testament lecturer at a seminary, my ministerial background helped me teach in a more concrete and contextual way.

‘Educated pastors and teachers are needed as the Indonesian Church is growing quickly. It is easier to find a good pastor than a good theological lecturer in Indonesia. During my first teaching ministry I came to realise that I could not do both things well at the same time. I decided to devote the rest of my fruitful years to preparing young people for ministry.

‘Mission in its most basic form is often understood as converting people to Christianity; its measure of success is the number of baptised people. However, people may become Christian outwardly but their way of thinking is still the same as non-Christian. For these Christians, the Word of God has not taken root, they continue living in their old sinful nature. Theological education can be used by God to make his word take root.

‘Last but not least, theological education in Asia can take the variety of local contexts into account. Western theologies, however well formulated, do not have the answers to many Asian questions. Asian people need to theologise for themselves, being facilitated by Western theology, to cope with their problems, which sometimes differ from Western problems quien receta la viagra.’

Students in Asia

— Hokkaido Bible Institute

Student #1

Why are you studying theology?

‘To know God and his love in a deeper way. To think about the problem of evil and other difficult theological questions, such as social injustice and homosexuality.’

Why is studying theology important to you?

‘Having been brought up in church and having gone through Sunday School, I came to realise that proper theological training is essential to communicating the gospel efficiently.’

Why is theological education important to your church?

‘As the pastor’s daughter the church wanted to prepare me in the best possible way to become God’s servant in the marketplace or the church.’

Student #2

Why are you studying theology?

‘To give theological substance to my “warm” experiences of God’s love. I have heard a lot about God and Christianity; now I want to study the fundamental truths of the Christian faith.’

Why is studying theology important to you?

‘I have grown up in a non-Christian family, so it is important to me to live in a Christian community to learn Christian values and culture, before I enter the ministry.’

Why is theological education important  to your church?

‘My church sent me and my wife to HBI to prepare and equip us to take over the leadership of our church from our aging pastor.’

Student #3

Why are you studying theology?

‘Although I have been a Christian for some 20 years, I still have so many questions about the Bible that I wanted to set three years aside for thinking through some of the issues.’

Why is studying theology important to you?

‘Like many Japanese Christians, I didn’t know many believers from outside my church. It was important to me to hear and engage with different theological views, not least to evaluate my own church background.’

Why is theological education important to your church?

‘It was important to my church that I receive training at a theological institution that shares the same understanding of the Bible and worship style.’