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Dick Nicholson
Regional Director, LA/C

Introduction:  My learning experiences: Cuba, Jr. High, CBC, Language School, as a part-time teacher in bible schools in Argentina and Paraguay, and indirectly through other family members studying for their MAs. 

What’s happening in theological education today in the world and in our region? 

  1. About 40% of our missionaries are involved in some form of discipleship or theological training.
  2. We have about 99,000 people (58,000 in LAC) studying in 2000 bible schools or extension programs worldwide (1300 in LAC).
  3. Many of our missionaries are acquiring advanced degrees.
  4. In some areas, our training programs are flourishing (Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba, to mention a few).
    1. Kudos to those who teach or direct in educational programs.  “If we lose this battle for the hearts and minds of our future leaders, we will lose the war!”
    2. We stand on the shoulders of giants (mention Melvin Hodges in 1938, El Salvador).
  5. In other areas we are struggling with:
    1. Rotating bible school directors elected by the national conference.
    2. Christian university experiments.
    3. Church-based schools.
    4. Electronic distance education.
    5. General “leadership” training, seminars, etc.

What is our pressing need?

  1. A clear view of our task—the need:
    1. Some see students as those whose mind are empty or filled with mush, thus the task is to fill it.
    2. However, scripturally their minds begin as captives, thus the primary task is to free them (“taking every thought into the captivity of Christ”).
  2. The remedy:
    1. The acquisition of knowledge/information
    2. The application of truth
  3. We must be careful not to educate at the expense of faith.  In a thesis a number of years ago at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, student Noel Wesley Hollyfield, Jr., who wrote a thesis for his MDiv. Program, concluded: "The more education students get at Southern Theological Seminary the less they believe."  Here are the results of a survey included in that thesis:


-------------------------------------Diploma----1st Year----Final Yr.-----Grad.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS---------Students----M.Div.------M.Div.-------Students

I know God really exists
& I have no doubt about it.------------100%--------74%---------65%---------63%

Jesus is the Divine Son of God
and I have no doubts about it.---------100%---------87%---------63%--------63%

I believe the miracles actually
happened just at the Bible says
they did.------------------------------------96%---------61%---------40%--------37%

The Devil Actually Exists:
Completely true.---------------------------96%---------66%---------42%--------37%
Probably true.-------------------------------4%---------18%---------26%--------15%
Probably not true.---------------------------0%---------12%---------23%--------32%
Definitely not true.--------------------------0%----------5%----------9%---------15%

There is Life Beyond Death:
Completely true.--------------------------100%---------89%---------67%-------53%

Jesus Was Born of A Virgin:
Completely true.----------------------------96%---------66%-------33%-------32%
Probably true.--------------------------------4%---------17%--------33%-------37%
Probably not true.--------------------------- 0%--------- 14%--------21%------15%
Definitely not true.-------------------------- 0%-----------2%--------12%------15%

Jesus Walked On Water:
Completely true.----------------------------96%---------59%--------44%------22%

Do You Believe Jesus Will
Actually Return To Earth
Some Day?

How necessary for salvation do you believe the following to be?

Belief In Jesus As Savior:
Absolutely necessary.----------------------100%--------85%---------60%-----59%

It is obvious that a danger can always exist whereby a reliance on education at the expense of faith and the Spirit may produce the kind of apostasy—“The more education students get at SBTS the less they believe”— that Hollyfield’s dissertation demonstrates.  Let’s maintain a priority of “Knowledge on Fire!”

As educators what must we do to maintain our priorities?

  1. We must connect with our calling.
    1. It is a divine calling, an ascension gift ministry (“He Gave Some …Teachers”—Eph.4)
    2. Teachers and teaching are given high priority in Scriptures

            i. “Do not muzzle the mouth of the ox . . .” (Dt. 25:4; I Cor. 9:7-12; I Tim 5:17, 18).

            ii.      “Those who serve well are worthy of double honor, especially those who serve in preaching and teaching.”

  1. We must connect with necessary and adequate resources to launch us into the future.
    1. With technological advances
    2. With written resources

                          i.      We need more writers and Pentecostal texts

                          ii.      Mention Faith & Action series, Full Life Study Bibles, EDISUB in Cuba

  1. We must connect with confidence to our Pentecostal perspective
    1. “Knowledge on Fire” includes passion, insight, and wisdom
    2. We must reject liberalized “mainstreaming” that marginalizes the Pentecostal experience.
  1. We must connect to “The Dream”
    1. It is our AG DNA to dream big dreams

                          i.      1914, at our second General Council; we were formed for several reasons: 1) unity in the fellowship; 2) publishing Pentecostal materials; 3) training of ministers and missionaries; 4) joining together for world missions

                         ii.      L.C. Hall, the “Prince of Preachers,” a man educated at Vanderbilt and Asbury Theological Seminary, offered a resolution calling the General Council to “The greatest evangelism the world has ever seen.” He also wrote the chorus, “God is moving by His Spirit . . . “

                        iii.      Today that dream is being fulfilled as God is moving by His Spirit through all the earth. HE HAD A DREAM, and today the AG has 62 million members and adherents in 315,000 congregations, with 2000 bible schools with 99,000 students.

    1. I call us to connect and commit to a dream, the dream Jesus had to “Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things [he] has commanded us.” HE MUST HAVE BELIEVED IT WAS POSSIBLE, EVEN WITH A HANDFUL OF DISCIPLES!  

Why not this mission statement?:

“As LAC educators, we commit ourselves and this movement to the greatest theological and Christian education, discipleship training, and leadership development the world has ever seen.

“We pledge ourselves to do our very best to make of every person a believer, of every believer a disciple, and of every disciple a leader, so help us God.”