Developing a multiplying movement of transformational churches requires a robust system to form leaders. Four years ago, the Latin America area developed a curriculum designed to be offered in various formats and by a wide range of church leaders.
Accelerated by the pandemic, the Latin America area developed an online Center for Ministerial Formation (CenForME) within the last year and a half. Students from nine countries, including the United States, have taken advantage of the opportunity to use the ministerial formation curriculum, learning from experienced instructors and participating in international cohorts.
Brett Schroeder, from Mission District 360 in Costa Rica, shared the impact of one particular course. Part of his apprenticeship included the “Theology of Mission” course. Brett said, “[When] we got to the final project of this course, I realized the Great Commission is not a suggestion, but a mandate for all of us to make disciples. During our project, we introduced unbelievers to the Word of God.” This involved learning about the community and how to look for a “person of peace” (Luke 10). Students created a prayer team, walked through the community praying and, finally, read the Bible with unbelievers who showed openness. Though the process was slow, Brett realized the Holy Spirit was on their team, and God had a great plan for this community.
Another student, Mariela Lesmo, from Creative Access Country X, reports the impact of a course highlighting the life and theology of John Wesley. As a person born and raised in a Christian family, Mariela identified with Wesley. She was particularly impressed by John’s mother, Susana Wesley. She learned how Susana used the Bible as a text to teach her children to read and how she spent time with each child, having conversations about faith. These stories were relevant to Mariela as a children’s teacher. She recognized John Wesley’s success as a leader was greatly impacted by the opportunity he had as a child to hear the Word of God and see the love of the Lord in his own home. She said, “When I think about how to stop the drug trafficking, robbery, assaults and murders, and how to build a more just society, I think we must raise up resilient leaders, a new generation that loves God with all their heart and learns the Word of the Lord as children together with their families. Only then can we make a difference.”
We praise the Lord for these two students and approximately 800 others currently in the Pastoral Formation program!
Dr. Glenn Lorenz is the coordinator for ministerial foundation in the Latin American Area. He and his family are missionaries based in Costa Rica. The pastoral formation curriculum is free and downloadable on the Latin America area website.