Training in biblical interpretation should be an integral part of every missions strategy.
FOURTH, training prepares missionaries for future service. While planting healthy churches among the target group is certainly the short-term goal of the missionary, the long-term goal is seeing those newly-planted churches send out their own missionaries to other people groups. Just like the missionary who brought the gospel to his or her people group, this newly-sent missionary will need to communicate the gospel, teach new believers, and lead the church he or she plants through the critical contextualization process. These are all tasks that require strong biblical interpretational skills.
Two years ago, I taught a New Testament exegesis course to a group of church leaders. Unbeknownst to me, one of the leaders in the group was preparing to spend six months sharing the gospel among a people group that is less than 0.5% Evangelical.
Seven months later, I returned to the same city to teach another course, and I had a chance to reconnect with that brother. He shared with me some of the challenges he faced and then told me that what best equipped him to communicate the gospel cross-culturally were the courses he’d taken on how to interpret scripture.
Training in biblical interpretation results in missionaries who are more effective at communicating and contextualizing the gospel message.
FIFTH, training in biblical interpretation enables the planting of healthy churches. No one wants his or her work to be done in vain. The Apostle Paul certainly didn’t. As a result of persecution, he was only able to stay in Thessalonica for a few weeks. In time, these new believers also faced persecution and Paul feared that some would turn away from the faith. He wrote in 1 Thessalonians …
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