by Miguel Morales
Latin America Caribbean (LAC) is home for over half of the more than 2,000 Assemblies of God Bible Schools and Seminaries worldwide. This is a reflection and a direct result of the emphasis placed on ministerial training in the region. Pioneer missionaries recognized the priority of training, and it continues to be a priority today.
Under the leadership of Regional Director Melvin Hodges, the AG Christian Education Service for Latin America (SEC) was established in 1960 to help coordinate and unify training efforts throughout the region. The commission produced an initial report of their study and presented recommendations. Subsequently, the first edition of the Ministerial Training Core Curriculum (Plan Básico) was published in 1970. The Plan continues to adapt, expand and meet the needs in the region.
Adding ministry specializations
Missionary and SEC Coordinator Rodney Boyd recalls, “More than 10 years ago we began the process of identifying and developing ministry training minors or specializations. More than 50 missionaries, national leaders and teachers were part of the process! It took three years to work through the Bible school teaching plan to refine, rewrite and reorganize the courses that were included in the specialization level.”
The first three specializations – Pastoral Ministries, Youth Ministries and Missions – were approved in 2009. Three additional specializations – Christian Education, Children’s Ministries and Church Planting – were added in 2012. Just three months ago, the University Ministries specialization was approved. Each specialization was the result of hard work by a committee of national and missionary specialists in these areas, often based upon prototype projects in different countries.
LAC values and initiatives
LAC has three core values. These values support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what is important for effective ministry in the region. They form the foundation on which we serve and conduct ourselves as missionaries. In response to these values, initiatives have been identified as significant ministries that everyone can play a part in. They pinpoint areas of need and define what is important in the region. Every missionary can contribute to one or more of these ministries.
LAC’s core values are lead, advance and collaborate. Its seven initiatives are:
- University students
- Unreached people groups
- Church planting
- Missions mobilization
The emerging national church
Strong ministerial training is an extremely important aspect of the emergent national church in LAC. The church continues to grow at an incredible rate. Our Bible Schools and Seminaries are raising up a new generation of ministers, church planters, pastors, evangelists and missionaries. The addition of ministry specializations have resulted in a greater need for integration between those that train and those that minister in these areas.
As a result, the missionary today plays a key role in both reaching out to new ministers that are being trained and reaching out to national leaders. Ministry specializations in the Bible School are a very natural way for you to become involved in a very practical way to mobilize both training and ministry. Teaching a course that aligns with your experience, expertise and passion is a great way to contribute furthering LAC’s values and initiatives in a new generation of national workers. Taking initiative in starting a ministry specialization program can lead to greater impact. Involving Bible School students in practical ministry can enrich their training experience.
LAC Regional Director David Ellis shares this on the benefit of missionary involvement in training: “As we look forward to training in the future, we are excited to be able to offer specialization tracks of Plan Básico. When serving on the field our focus was church planting and university ministry, but some of our fondest memories and valued relationships were formed at the Bible School where I taught. If training is going to continue to be the mandated task it has always been, then it is essential that we find time to be involved in this area of ministry to the extent that we are able.”