Echo Zoe Radio with Andy Olson

Hosted ByAndy Olson

Monthly interviews with knowledgable guests on a variety of topics dealing with theology, apologetics, errant teaching, and cultural issues.

Jonathan Worthington: Training Leaders

Jonathan Worthington is adjunct professor of theology at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, incoming Chaplain for the North Hennepin Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, and Director of Research at Training Leaders International. He joins us to talk about training pastors and ministry leaders around the world.

Outline of the Discussion
  • Jonathan grew up in Virginia. He went to seminary at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and then moved to Scotland to study for his PhD. Following that, he stayed on full-time with his church in Scotland, before taking a position as a New Testament professor at Belfast Bible College in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After changes in UK immigration policy, his family was forced to return the the US. It took some time before ending up where he is now, but for the last seven years he’s been at Training Leaders International (TLI) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • His position allows him to incorporate three passions that are difficult to combine: academics, serving the local church, and working in cross-cultural settings.
  • Jonathan describes Marcus from India, who was the village “doctor,” only because he had slightly more knowledge of medicine than the average villager. When several villagers became Christians along with Marcus, they all just assumed he’d be their pastor.
  • TLI started out as a ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church. While they are still very friendly, they have since split off and are independent.
  • TLI teaches local leaders in short, intense training sessions. There are nine week-long training sessions spread over three years. After each teaching session, attendees are tasked with finding people to teach what they just learned over the next four months leading up to the next training session.
  • Jonathan taught Maria in the Philippines. Maria was excited, and knew exactly who she wanted to teach. The problem was that the people she wanted to teach were not literate.
  • Jonathan had been reading about orality, or oral-based learning. (Aural is a similar term pertaining to hearing.) There’s a spectrum that ranges from Primary-Oral to Primary-Literate, with many points in between.
  • He came up with a strategy with Maria to be able to go back and teach those who could not read.
  • Being more Oral can have advantages. Our brains retain different types and amounts of information depending on the type of thinking we do (oral vs. literate.)
  • Throughout history, most people have learned by hearing. From the priestly teaching in the time of Christ to the churches of the Middle Ages, people heard the scriptures preached. Maria would go on to teach in her home village in similar manner.
  • Most of the places TLI does work in are open countries, where ministry work is allowed. For some closed countries, they can fly people to a nearby open country for training, then send them home.
  • They typically feel safe in the places where they go. However, they often need to be discrete for the sake of the people they are serving. White faces showing up can put a target on the locals.
  • In discussing open vs. closed, we talked about Dubai. The United Arab Emirates is closed, but Dubai is very open. It’s a popular tourist destination. There is a seminary there, and churches. Proselytizing is not allowed though. It used to be a place where people from closed countries could be brought in for training.
  • Jonathan has taught in: India, Mongolia, the Philippines, Romania, Turkey, Tanzania, Uganda, Brazil, Panama, and Chile. They also have a “Diaspora Program” that teaches immigrants in the US who then go to their communities to lead their own people groups.
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