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: 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.
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.
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.
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:
GProCommission: In addition to the wonderful work Langham is doing, can you tell us more about the special preaching app Langham developed?
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:
In phase two, there will be further additions (as well as other languages)
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)