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Philosophy of Ministry

Introduction

One of the greatest needs of the Christian community in the Middle East is for godly trained leaders. Simply stated, the Arab church needs men and women who understand what God wants them to be and do, who are biblically trained, and who have the passion and courage to carry out the vision God has given them for the Arabic-speaking world. The Biblical College for Arab Leaders (BCAL) exists to assist the church in the training and mobilization of believers for the fulfillment of this vision throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

Biblical Mandates for the Church

The Bible is very clear as to what the church should be doing. The primary goal is to “make disciples.” Consider the following verses:

Matthew 28:19–20

“Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Colossians 1:28–29
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man COMPLETE IN CHRIST. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
2 Timothy 2:2
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, ENTRUST THESE TO FAITHFUL MEN who will be ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO.“
The first verses (Matt 28:19-20) were part of Jesus’ final instructions to the twelve whom He had personally trained. He made clear to them that their main goal was “to make disciples.” The second verses (Col 1:28-29) remind us that in the task of making disciples, our aim is to help every Christian become “complete in Christ,” that is, spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity does not happen overnight, but requires progress over time as one applies biblical truth to his or her life. This implies accountability and careful oversight, with older and more mature believers helping younger ones. Finally, the third verse (2 Tim 2:2) reminds us that our primary efforts should be directed to those who show themselves faithful, and that the ultimate goal is that they, in turn, can teach others also. The latter is a good reminder that multiplication must be a key aspect of our strategy. Without multiplication, we will not see growing and healthy churches.

Partnering with the Local Church to Provide Ongoing Training

The Biblical College for Arab Leaders exists to serve the churches of the Arabic speaking world by providing the training that is essential for fulfilling the biblical mandates listed above. Yet we do this in partnership with a local church wherever possible. Our goal is not to take trained Christian workers away from the local church, but to help train and mobilize church members so that the local church can be better prepared for practical outreach ministry. Because BCAL does not have a resident campus, students do not leave their community and church involvement in order to pursue a degree. Rather, they remain in their cultural context and continue to minister in their local church environment while they study with BCAL.

As Christians are trained and mobilized for practical ministry through their local church, they also have a need for ongoing training in order to continue growing and developing. BCAL helps with this need. Qualified students (who have been recommended by their church and accepted by BCAL) are organized into a small group with other students who commit to studying through the course materials made available by BCAL.

The BCAL Philosophy of Learning

One important distinctive of the curriculum used by BCAL is its philosophy of learning. Rather than relying on the traditional system of lecture by a teacher, our learning style is focused on group interaction. A study group usually consists of approximately 12-16 students. Each student is responsible for working through the assigned lesson in the course book prior to the start of a facilitation session. When the group comes together, there is a person known as the “facilitator” who is responsible for leading the time the group spends together. Rather than lecturing to the group, the facilitator concentrates on leading the group in discussion and interaction of what the students have learned from their study of the course book. Not only is this more stimulating to the student, but because the process does not require an “expert teacher,” the student learns how he or she can do the same thing later with a group of his/her own. This is an extremely important concept for the sake of multiplication. The following diagram illustrates the concept of a facilitator-led study group:

The Goal of Spiritual Multiplication

The principle from 2 Timothy 2:2 must be kept in mind:

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, ENTRUST THESE TO FAITHFUL MEN who will be ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO.“
The students in a BCAL study group (faithful men and women) are entrusted with biblical truths, so that they will be ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO. This is the principle of spiritual multiplication. Learning is not an end in itself, but must be seen as an entrustment by God for the purpose of being able to train others. Hence, the goal is that the students in a BCAL study group will eventually go on to be a facilitator of their own group. The first group is designated a 1st Generation group. Groups started by the students in this first group are called 2nd Generation groups, and these in turn can produce 3rd Generation groups (and so on). The point is not that every student will go on to form a 2nd Generation group or that each group will be the same size, but that in general we see a multiplication of the number of students being effectively trained. The following diagram illustrates the principle (see next page):

BCAL Learning Objectives: Know, Be, Do

So many times in educational situations, the goal is nothing more than a memorization of information, as though the accumulation of information was a goal in itself. “Changed lives” should be the proper goal of biblical training. Certainly this rests on a foundation of knowing biblical truth. Yet such knowledge must lead to transformation of mind and character (one must “be” the person the Lord wants him/her to be). We are exhorted in Romans 12:1-2,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Finally we are to “do” something. We are to serve the Lord according to the gifts He has given each one of us. Yet every Christian is responsible for making disciples (which is something we “do”). In all the courses we offer, these three important aspects of knowing, being, and doing are emphasized. Application to life is built into each and every course.

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