Biblical Preaching in Europe and Beyond! (Introducing New Preaching App)

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Biblical Preaching in Europe and Beyond! (Introducing New Preaching App)

Langham

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish) frFrançais (French)

We rejoice in the good news that through the prayerful efforts of Langham, pastoral training is taking place in 70 countries and growing! Even in pockets of the world that pose a hurdle to the Gospel like Spain, Austria and Turkey, a hunger is spreading among pastors for training. A deeper understanding of how to preach biblically is taking root and yielding a fresh crop of trained pastors with vision to impart the training they received. We were able to interview Rev. M, the Europe and Caribbean Director, to learn more.

Read full interview below and then, further below, read the mobile app overview and how to download this amazing tool and pass it along!


GProCommission: How did you first come to know the Lord?

Rev. M: After having attended at least 2,000 church services (!!), I was 18, in my final year at boarding school and a series of Lent talks convinced me for the first time that it was possibly actually to know God personally through Christ.

GProCommission: How did the Lord call you to pastoral training?

Rev. M: I initially headed towards ordination as a result of having been discipled by a man who was himself training for ministry. After a few years, it became clear that my gifting and passion was geared towards training and teaching – this is what led to my posting to teach in a small seminary in Kampala, Uganda, for four years. I have now been training pastors for eighteen years.

GProCommission: What was the greatest blessing from the GProCongress?

Rev. M: It was great meeting and interacting with others from around the world, especially those involved in Langham training in Asia. One key new connection happened over coffee in Bangkok when a colleague and I began chatting with a pastoral trainer from Port Au Prince, Haiti. As a result of the conversation, the colleague went to Haiti for a lineup visit earlier this year in March which I followed up in August. The Haitian man took an overnight bus journey to join the August meeting. My colleague went back this October to do level one training. They are really impressive people. There were approximately eight Haitians representing around five key, different, major denominations. This type of inter-denominational unity is a common byproduct.

GProCommission: What is your role at Langham?

Rev. M in Hungary

Rev. M: We work regionally, so I oversee and direct the development of grassroots, inter-denominational training of Bible teachers in Europe and the Caribbean. There are others on the LP global team who are directors with responsibility for the work in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Currently, we are working on getting training events in Austria. After a meeting, I remember seeing a 70-year-old Austrian man weeping that he had never imagined seeing denominations from all backgrounds meeting together.

GProCommission: Can you share one recent praise report/testimony from a pastor you trained?

Rev. M: One man said that Langham has transformed his entire approach to preaching – and opened up the possibility, as well as desire, to teach every part of the Scriptures in his church. I am really encouraged how the missiological principle of local ownership of pastoral training gives the work momentum and longevity. So for example, the work is spreading around Spain, which has been dry ground for the Gospel for centuries.

GProCommission: Langham’s scope is tremendous. Can you tell us more?

Rev. M: There are three branches that comprise Langham.

  • Langham Scholars are those who are acquiring their PhDs in theology with the commitment that they have to go back to their region upon graduation. We have 300 people enrolled in this program and it’s a humongous legacy from all over the world.
  • Langham literature, which began as charity to distribute books to pastors in Africa, after the Langham founder, John Stott, realized how few resources African pastors had in the 1960s. This has developed and expanded to develop theological writers around the world, and produce different resources in people’s heart languages, as well as to publish our own imprints. We focus on publishing in mother tongue languages by utilizing writers who write books in their native tongue. Also, Langham distributes mainstream Christian authors’ works in different translations. In addition, we support indigenous Christian publishers and develop writers.
  • Then there is Langham preaching: Our aim is to create expository preaching movements in every region. We have a few stipulations:
    • We only go to a country where we are invited.
    • We only work in the country if there is an inter-denominational leadership team.
    • We can’t just be in the capital, it has to be grassroots in other areas of the country with people who have a vision for training others.
Langham

Port of Spain, Trinidad – Rev. M teaching a study day/refresher day on Preaching the Book of Acts.

GProCommission: How many countries does Langham work with currently and how do you tailor your approach to each one?

Rev. M: We are now in about 70 countries. A national committee oversees the organization of Langham Preaching in their country/region – It is an administrative/leadership structure. We have a different committee in each region. Usually, a committee will be six to seven people. In the longest, most established countries, we have been working up to 15 years. One European example is Spain, which has been a tough harvest field. The country never experienced the Reformation, with Protestants suffering persecution even relatively recently under Fascism. In our initial training cycle, we invested in up to 50 already established preachers from eight Spanish regions. Of the original group, we sent out around 40 to develop the training cycle regionally. By 2020, we could have had around 500 through the programme, representing perhaps 200 individual churches! This is how the Reformation happened, all over Europe, in little congregations, people opening the Bible and teaching it. We start small and don’t focus on huge events, and focus on identifying people who are teaching and teachable.

We see it as a movement rather than an institution. It’s about trying to find the most culturally appropriate and best way of doing things in every country. We are very flexible, and our emphasis is our partnership with those on the ground.

Slavko Hadžić and Mark Meynell sharing a laugh and some Bosnian humor in Mostar, Herzegovina.

GProCommission: How is the training structured?

Rev. M: We have a three-year-cycle of annual training seminars. During the three years, all are encouraged to ‘join preaching clubs ’, where the plan is to meet six to ten times a year for several years. After completing the three-year training, the idea is that they go train others. In the course of these annual seminars (which usually last around 4 – 5 days), we teach the basic principles of exposition as well as preaching from the New and Old Testaments. We show how to take a given genre and then preach from it, ideally igniting a hunger for learning and to keep learning for the rest of their lives.

GProCommission: How are the clubs and training structured?

The clubs are the small groups (eg 5-10 members) that meet regularly (eg monthly or 6 times a year) to sharpen one another’s preaching. This is what the Langham App is designed to support.

  • We always try to ensure we have three key educational elements: modeling, instruction and practice.
    • We start with a model sermon that is critiqued by the group, with devotional time around it. Then we walk through instructions on a particular skill.
    • We then have the group work on a text together so people interact and deliver an outline.
    • They get one book every year after completing the year’s course work, usually a Langham literature book. If it’s not available in their language, we try to supplement.
  • We also hold annual pastoral training residential conferences, one a year for each movement, three to four nights. A movement is what we call the Langham work in each country or national region. We are seeking not to create an institution, but something more organic – with local ownership but dynamism that enables them to be flexible. We do five to six of these a year.
  • The rest of the time, my work is primarily trying to encourage and support the national committees. The European country we’ve worked in the longest is surprisingly Albania. There are perhaps only about 5,000 Albanian Protestant Christians. There is not much of a Christian heritage and they don’t have resources. Sadly, we have to do their training in a language that is not their mother tongue. It’s really essential to do training in someone’s mother tongue. But there have been some very encouraging signs there.
Langham

Barcelona, Spain – commissioning those who had been through our training cycle to go and lead the cycle in their regions.

GProCommission: What is the operating budget per country?

Rev. M: It varies considerably. But it is not huge at all – perhaps between £1000 and £2000 a year. We keep our costs as low as possible. For example: if we can avoid renting a venue for the training (e.g. by using a church hall) we will. Far better to put on events that are sustainable and repeatable by local leadership than spend too much on ‘extra special’ events which are unrepeatable.

GProCommission: What is your greatest challenge in training pastors?

Rev. M: In the European context, the biggest battle is to shore up confidence in the Gospel and the Scriptures as divine revelation. Without such confidence, preaching will never be considered a priority, and church will revolve around many other things, which may be good in themselves but not necessarily helpful for building up the body.

GProCommission: What is your biggest focus for the pastors you train?

Rev M: We have five key values that underpin all our training:

  • Convictions about the Bible and preaching
  • Faithfulness to the scriptural text
  • Relevance to the audience’s context
  • Clarity in the sermon’s communication
  • Christlikeness in the preacher’s lifestyle

GProCommission: In addition to the wonderful work Langham is doing, can you tell us more about the special preaching app Langham developed?

Introducing the app to our leaders in Ghana at the first pan-African gathering of country coordinators.

Rev M: Earlier in 2017, we produced the Langham Preaching App (see graphic below) for preaching presentation on both the Android and iOS (Apple) platforms available in English, French and Spanish. There is a model for sermon preparation and we even use the Bridge illustration from Dr. Ramesh Richard. The app automatically checks for the primary language of your device and switches to the appropriate one.

This is only Phase one of two (Phase two will be launched in early 2018). The idea is for this to strengthen our preaching clubs by providing a tool to help members work together to share sermon outlines and plan meetings. Since it will be available for free, we hope that it will also be a good advertisement for all that we do around the world.

In phase one, the app does three things:

  • Sermon preparation – users are taken through a process from text to sermon, and keep an archive of their old outlines
  • Preaching Club – you create or join a club and can share your outlines with other members
  • Langham Preaching (LP) news – you can find out more about LP’s work, as well as subscribe to the weekly Prayer shot, Preachers’ Helps and the LP Postcard

In phase two, there will be further additions (as well as other languages)

  • A new, dedicated website specifically for Langham Preaching will be up and running (with full login facilities so that you can work on your sermon outlines through an ordinary Internet browser)
  • Club members will be able to chat together and individually
  • Alternative models for sermon preparation will be available
  • National and area preaching movements will be able to pass on news to members in their areas in a dedicated section in the app.

Please help spread the word on the Langham Preaching App!

** Langham is already working on Version 2:0! Plans include: multilingual versions, Club members’ contact and chat; export/import sermon outlines to other apps; pages for National Langham preaching movements (due early 2018)


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