As I work across the region, I love coming across some of the amazing work that is going on. Some of you will have heard of Langham Partnership, but to others it will be new. I wanted to introduce you to their organisation and their work. I encourage you to take a closer look by visiting their webpage and maybe thinking about how you could support their work or get involved. Sometimes we don’t recognise how much we have to share…nor how much we are blessed through our connection with others facing completely different challenges in other parts of the Church around the world. (Jo Phillips – ESRO)
Imagine you have just been called to be the pastor of a church that was planted recently, but you yourself have only been a Christian a few years and you have had no training whatsoever, least of all in a seminary or institution of any kind. You are one of the 80% of those who are pastoring Christian churches around the world with no training at all. Imagine that you are expected to preach every week, but nobody has given you any guidance about how to go about that, and you have no books other than your Bible. Imagine that, perhaps, somebody helps you get to a seminary, but there are very few books there either, and most of them are in English, which is not your language, and the teachers are not well qualified in biblical or theological studies themselves. Where would you turn for help? I hope someone might introduce you to the Langham Partnership.
Our vision is to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through the ministry of pastors and leaders who believe, teach and live by the Word of God.
The term “Majority World” refers to those parts of the world identified as less economically developed: in broad terms the “non-western” world, or the “global south”. It is felt to be less pejorative than “Third World” or “Developing World,” since it refers to those parts of the world where the majority of the world’s population, and the majority of the world’s Christians, live. Between 60% and 70% of the world’s Christian population live in the Majority World.
Langham focuses and prioritizes our ministries on contexts where we perceive some of the specific needs of God’s people to be greatest. And the needs of the church in many parts of the world are still very great indeed. John Stott, the founder of Langham Partnership’s ministries, observed many of these needs years ago and our global partners assure us that they still confront us today, and still call for our prayerful and careful response. Those needs include the following realities:
- Many pastors have little or no training in how to preach the Bible in a way that is faithful to the biblical text and relevant and nourishing for their people. Or they may preach with contextual relevance but are limited by lack of biblical resources. Inevitably, new believers, with inadequate guidance or teaching, fail to understand and apply the Bible for themselves.
- Many Bible colleges and seminaries struggle to build a teaching faculty who have both spiritual zeal and appropriate academic qualifications.
- Seminaries often lack adequate library resources (printed and digital).
- Biblically faithful and culturally relevant books in indigenous heart-languages are scarce or non-existent.
Now when churches lack deep roots in God’s Word and sound teaching, ordinary believers and their leaders easily fall victim to false teachers and damaging practices (which is as true in the western churches as anywhere else). As Jesus said in his parable of seeds and soil, rapid growth without depth leads to rapid withering before long. Langham Partnership seeks to address these needs.
Nevertheless, even in the face of grinding poverty, civil conflict, political repression, persecution, pandemics and more, the church in many parts of the world continues to expand as many new believers are added daily and new churches are planted. We thank God for such evangelistic growth as the demonstration of the power of the gospel. Yet this rapid numerical growth can easily leave churches lacking in depth of discipling and maturity.
Many church leaders of these vibrant and growing churches lament these deficiencies and long for resources to tackle them. They know that God is powerfully at work among them. They are hungry for his Word and crave the means to satisfy their own hunger and feed their people too. For only then, as the church grows to maturity in faith and life, can the church make an impact through effective mission in the world.