Perhaps more than anything else, Africa needs practical Bible training for pastors and other church leaders. At present, literally thousands of them lack a good understanding of the Bible as well as many church matters, although they act as ministers in literally thousands of congregations.
That is why Mukhanyo Theological College was established nearly 25 years ago. Its main purpose was to train pastors and church leaders to preach the Bible in the way God wants it taught: reformed, evangelical, fully submitting to the authority of the Bible. This was done firstly in the old KwaNdebele region northeast of Pretoria. But over the years Mukhanyo’s activities spread all over Southern Africa and beyond.
Another development was that Mukhanyo developed into a registered institution of high repute, with a number of programmes accredited by South Africa’s higher education authorities. However, the required academic standards presented Mukhanyo with a problem. Only students who had certain educational qualifications could be allowed. But statistics show that most church leaders and pastors in South Africa and in other countries in Africa have no or very little formal training. Even worse, many know not much of the contents of the Bible or how to prepare a sermon and to preach.
Over the years Mukhanyo had different ways to approach this matter, such as to offer an entrée certificate or a number of short courses over and above its accredited programmes. In addition there is the diploma programme for students, also at the distance study sites.
Then the question arose: why not use all these centres to offer a number of courses which are not accredited but which are very important to un- or under-qualified practising pastors and other church leaders who do not qualify for Mukhanyo’s other programmes?
That is why the new Focus Programme is now in the process of being developed, to be available at all teaching sites. The programme includes thirty modules in the five categories: The Study of Basics, Bible Foundations, Church Growth, Church Leadership and Church Life. The plan is to prepare the modules first in English and later in at least two other languages.
The Focus Programme is practical-oriented and seeks to avoid abstract material. The courses have to be good and helpful in the practice of a Christian’s life and the functioning of a church. The presentation of the modules will be fairly flexible. Tutors will either do all the presenting or the presenting will be done through lecturer-presented seminars or DVDs. The tutor will also facilitate discussions, other group work, assignments and exams. Tuition time per module is estimated at 16 hours, spread over 12 weeks. Half of each study unit should be for supervised exercises and group discussions.
It is envisaged that these programmes will meet the most important training needs of church leaders outside of higher education, with a balance between providing all-round practical training and other specific training needs felt by churches.
At present the development of these modules is in its early stages with outcomes and outlines of about half the modules completed, and with a limited number of draft study guides. A lot of prayer and hard work still needs to be done over the next few years. May God also provide the necessary manpower and funds!