Challenges in the Training for Missions and Ministry
Dr. George Cherian
Ministry as we broadly term service in the Kingdom of God is for sure a challenging task and all those who are in it will confirm it to be so. Service in the Kingdom of God t is a more arduous job than what we face in the other areas of work. First of all, it is a work against the kingdom of darkness as the work. Ministry and mission is to snatch men and women out of the fire of eternal damnation. Secondly work in the kingdom of God is the burdensome task of building the believers in faith and thirdly there is the hostility one would face from the world.
No wonder that we observe in the lives of those called for serving God and His kingdom expressing their reluctance at the time of their call to the ministry. Moses when he was called to be part of the redemptive work expressed his hesitation by telling the Lord his weaknesses and limitation. Both Jeremiah and Gideon expressed their inadequacies and unfitness for the vocation they were called. Proper and adequate training equips them to the task they are called
God uses ordinary men, but he never uses untrained men. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that the education and training varies according to the need of
the service. All would agree that the training is not just to be focused on the theological knowledge, though highly essential. For one to excel in the service in the mission or in the ministry in the church, one must also be trained in cultivating a life of discipleship and godliness. The comprehensive training must start even before entering the training institution for the formal coaching. Typically it starts in the Christian home, then in the home church afterwards through formal academic training and finally through discipling and mentoring through men and women who are role models in life and ministry. Of course, it is not imperative that all go through these stages to be an effective and competent missionary or a minister.
Training in the home and its challenges
Serving God in mission outreach or through ministry in the church can capture the heart of a child early in life. A godly home with its focus on high spiritual values naturally imparts spiritual influence and training on the family members. There are many who have stepped out to serve the Lord because of the vision and passion they have observed and consequently received from home.This becomes a reality in families that love, worship and follow the Lord in obedience. Families that regularly opens their homes for visiting missionaries and evangelists generally imparts a vision and enduring impression on the family especially the children. It is then not surprising when you see children from those godly homes stepping out as missionaries, ministers as well as prayer warriors and sacrificial givers for missions. How true is the saying, ‘spirit of missions is caught and not taught.’
However, the influence of the world has infiltrated into lives and homes of believers and have dampened the spiritual fervor and love for the Lord. Prayer, worship, meditation of the Word of God and witnessing has taken the back seat in homes. It is not surprising that we see a sharp fall in the number of young people coming out to serve the Lord for mission and ministry. Hence during these days of lukewarm spiritual life there is the great need for the believers to examine their own spiritual life and priorities.
Training of the congregation and its challenges
Although a missionary or a minister is formally molded in a seminary or a training center, it is of great profit if the person isgiven the foundation of the spiritual conviction in his own church. If one hears the powerful sermons on the lostness of man, the only way of salvation through the cross of Christ and the call for total commitment to the Lordship of Christ, his heart will be convinced and filled with the concern for the lost world and challenged with the prospect of leading men and women to life and salvation through the gospel.
In recent times, it is depressing to see the church pulpit concentrating more on the goodness and care of a loving God to provide for the needs and heal the sickness. Although God of the Bible for sure cares for the needs and afflictions in our life, His priority is to save men from sinfuland selfish past and sanctify the believers to be a useful vessel in the hand of God and finally lead them to glory of His presence. So, apart of challenge in training remains with the church in creating a deep conviction of mission among the believers. As the great preacher Vance Havener said, “Power in the pulpit, action in the pew.” It is the need of the hour to see church pulpits occupied by godly men of the word and prayer.
Training through training institutions and its challenges
The world with its fast-technological progress and subsequent changes in the life style poses diverse human needs and complexities in life and it necessitates systematic training for serving in missions and ministry. Training supplies the tools that are necessary to effectively carry out the task in mission world and the church. It also helps the one stepping out to missions or ministry in the church to formulate strategies for accomplishing the task. However, it is important to note that the trainer must have the deep conviction of the of the task of proclamation of the gospel. It is very disheartening to see many institutions operated by trainers who have followed a liberal interpretation of the mandate of great commission and also who have also compromised on the divinity and uniqueness of Christ. Ministry effectiveness and hence church growth has been severely hampered by this weakness. One needs to be grateful to God for those institutions that have held firm to the convictions and faith of the fathers.
Training by mentoring and its challenges
It will be foolish to believe that just the training received at home, church and the seminary would completely fulfill the training process. It will be of great benefit and blessing whenthe person undergoes mentoring under a godly, mature and spirit filled man of God. Christ adopted both teaching and mentoring to develop the 12 that were to take the gospel to the world. His life, teachings and continuous effort to mentor them transformed the weak doubting and the fearful men into powerful pioneers of spreading the good news. This then is a crucial factor in producing effective missionaries for outreach and ministers for the care of the church.
This is wonderfully illustrated in the life of Barnabas. His name, Barnabas itself (son of encouragement) speaks of the essential qualification needed for those who do the mentoring ministry. Barnabas became a mentor not only for a highly qualified and courageous Paul, a new convert, but also for John Mark who was young, timid and fearful. The patient and humble mentor developed both Paul and Mark into men who were used by God for the extension of God’s Kingdom.
But this high calling of God for a ministry requires a ministry of tender care and consistent effort for developing the skill and character of the person. The mentor must be caring enough to spend time to make him grow in his spiritual life and also see him progress in ministry talents and gifts present in him. Mentoring will also demand painful experience of confronting the person undergoing training on issues that needs to be addressed in his life. This calls for a life of great sacrifice on the part of the mentor. Mentors are rarely seen in the limelight of the ministry but like Barnabas, they can make great contribution in training and developing others.
Training through continuing of education
Training is never completed with graduation from the seminary. With the world developing at lightning speed, there is always a need to get updated on the challenges of the times and new methodologies to face them. A pastor or a missionary is also challenged with financial management, confronting issues with the government and hostility from the society. Hence, there needs to be awareness and understanding on the political, social and economic situation. To be an effective minster, one needs to be a voracious reader. Reading makes a man.
The mission and ministry will be greatly enhanced if organized periodical refresher courses are made available to renew and revive the fervor and also the skill of the minister or the missionary.
Finally, great care must be taken to “train ourselves in godliness.” The mission field and the church are looking for men of God operating in the power of God doing the work of God for the glory of God.