Friday, May 23, 2008

What Type of Theologian Without Borders Are You?

Welcome
A warm welcome to you, especially if you are a new reader of this Theologians Without Borders (TWB) web site. A special ‘Hola’ to Spanish-speaking visitors to this site who have seen the statement about TWB entitled Teólogos Sin Fronteras.

We are gradually crashing through the barriers and borders of language and more statements about the vision and workings of TWB will appear soon in French, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.

I have asked several people to help with translations but if you can help translate material for people of another language, do write to me.

What Type of TWB Are You?
I don’t want to squeeze people into categories but I did want to encourage your involvement by telling you about the type of people who have been serving as Theologians Without Borders.

Retired Pastors & Teachers
Dr. Peter Tow (pictured) appears anything but retired. Born in Singapore, trained mainly in the USA, experienced as a Youth Pastor, Pastor, Evangelist, Church Planter, Church Consultant, Peter spends many weeks of the year away from his home in San Jose teaching and training. He has spent much time ministering in the Ukraine but his ministry focus is shifting more towards Asia as numbers of theological educators are seeking his services in both Chinese and English languages. With so many opportunities, Peter has ushered others into short-term ministry through the Global Missions Partnership umbrella organisation. (Read more about Peter’s work and availability from this site).

Also, check out the way Dick Pierard has been redefining retirement.

Retired people often have greater flexibility and freedoms with time than those in permanent of contracted employment and with years of experience they have so much to contribute.

With the coming of the baby boomers into retirement we are going to see scores of pastors and teachers who are not content to play golf every day but they will want to be engaging in strategic ministries. Those entering retirement may turn out to be the biggest resource group for TWB.

Pastors
Russell Drowley is a pastor in Melbourne, Australia who several years ago accepted an invitation to go on a speaking, training visit to Asia. He loved it. Since then he has traveled to China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Russell’s church has supported these ventures by giving him time off and actually seeing this as part of his and their wider ministry.

Russell has seen the strategic importance of taking a team of people from his church on these trips. Read about the way this works, what a stretching experience it has been for those who go and the development of a living and growing international partnership between the Aussie and Filipino congregations.

If you are a pastor with an international passion, why don’t you be part of the growing number of pastors who are being sent out by their church to speak at Leadership Conferences or to offer training? Please note that while theological degrees are valued there are many places seeking help with training that do not have rigid conditions requiring the possession of degrees at this level or the other. People certainly must have something to say and possess teaching ability and cross-cultural sensitivity. Those who currently serve as pastors often bring welcome gifts of encouragement and can act as a valuable sounding board for the local people.

Remember that TWB is seeking to bring together people for groups wanting conference speakers, as well as matching teachers with seminaries asking for help.

Seminary Teachers
George Wieland teaches at Carey Baptist College in New Zealand where like many seminaries, he gets a sabbatical every few years. Instead of heading to some prestigious seminary to do months of research in the library and write books George wanted to get international experience in a very different context from NZ. Read about his worthwhile experiences in North East India. Check out the story of Lilian Lim who teaches and consults in different parts of Asia and the USA. Or Keith Dyer’s experience in Bangladesh. Or have a look at Tim Bulkeley’s site Teaching OT in Faraway Places.

While a sabbatical every few years gives a wonderful opportunity to do an international assignment in a ‘faraway place’ there are an increasing number of seminaries which actively encouraging (and continue to pay) their teachers to spend several weeks each year in some international ministry assignment. What a great contribution and vision this is and it brings to the sending seminary a strong international dimension that their students find to be inspirational.

What About You?
So which category of the above do you naturally fit into? Hopefully there are, and will continue to be, many more creative ways of engaging in short and long term international partnerships for training and mutual encouragement.

What You Can Do?
* I would love to hear from you even if it is to say, ‘Keep me in mind’ or ‘I have a growing interest’ or ‘I am already involved in similar ventures’.

* Subscribe to the site by clicking on the subscriber link. There is not formal membership but this web site is a notice board on which we can post ‘calls for help’. For many important reasons I cannot supply specific detail in the postings so do email me asking for further information.

* Check out the Type of person that is needed for a TWB and without making any commitment, adapt and fill in the Expression of Interest template and send it to me.

* Put a link to this TWB site on your personal web site and ask to get a link created on your seminary, church and convention web sites to help get the word out.

* Republish in part or in full the article on the John Mark Ministries site or my Statement from the Soapbox or the introductory posting about the vision and workings of TWB.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr. Peter Tow

Extras
Stories for Speakers and Writers is a resource site to which I regularly supply contributions.

Making Life Decisions is a free, online book for individuals, groups and churches wondering about God’s direction and thinking about making a journey of discernment.