Sixteen years ago a group of us started the Learning Technologies ministry. It was aimed at increasing access to training by pastors in least-access areas of the world. Access was the problem we wanted to solve and we decided to use technology as the tool to make that happen.
Our early workshops revealed a new problem that could not be solved by technology alone. Most teachers did not understand the principles of good education. Therefore they could not take the new medium of education available through technology and create effective learning experiences. They took their lectures from the classroom and put them online. It didn’t work. Learners were bored, and many disliked the solo nature of lectures put online. They wanted interaction with the teacher and others. We responded by creating workshops that introduced ways of making online learning engaging and interactive. The Learning Technologies ministry became as much about learning methods as it did about technology.
Along the way we began to hear that local ministry leaders were increasingly dissatisfied with the results of traditional training delivery systems such as the formal classroom, intensive seminars and even online learning. Here are two examples to illustrate the problem.
- A group of leading pastors and teachers gathered in Burundi and concluded that in the 10 years since the Rwanda genocide that Burundi also experienced there was little evidence that the church was in better shape to respond to the challenges of tribalism and other threats. Existing methods of equipping pastors and church leaders were not resulting in deep transformation.
- A recent gathering of Chinese leaders reported that “in the last decade senior leaders began to recognize a noticeable loss in the quality of the young leaders who had graduated from their programs.”
- “The Bible school approach is not working well. We have to find something else.”
- “We have to return to Christ Jesus himself, not knowledge-based approaches.”
- “packaged curriculums do not produce what our churches need.”
- “We need a model of how to do this.”
Our experience in many countries support what these leaders are saying and has led us for the last 10 years to a search for ways to create and deliver pastor training that would increase the potential for transformation of the pastor, his church, and the community in which the church ministers.