Process not Event: Growing Fellowships of Bible Preachers
By Jonathan Lamb
International Programme Director of Langham Preaching
|Kenyan Preachers’ Club with Mercy Ireri|
We all agree that a church is more than its services, a family more than its meal times. And since it began six years ago, Langham Preaching has sought to encourage ‘fellowships’ rather than just run events. In several countries there is gradually emerging a fellowship of preachers – a ‘movement’ for biblical preaching. Supported by seminars, books and training resources, such a movement is most clearly seen through the emergence of preachers’ clubs in towns and villages. Meeting regularly in their home regions, small groups of pastors and lay preachers gather to study a Bible passage, work on sermon preparation, and plan their preaching series. And of course they pray for one another and support each other’s desire to preach better. Linked to regional or national seminar programmes which provide training materials and good models for Biblical preaching, preachers’ clubs are the heartbeat of national preaching movements.
Preachers’ clubs are growing across Kenya, encouraged to meet regularly by country coordinator Mercy Ireri, who uses her cell phone to good effect as she chases up local leaders for news of their club meetings, or encourages them forward with new ideas. Pastors often contact Langham Preaching via our Web site, and we can quickly connect them with Mercy who then plugs them into the network of preachers’ clubs gradually extending across the country. Mercy says, ‘A few months ago you forwarded to me an email from pastor Jonathan in Nakuru. I put him in touch with the leader of the preachers’ club, Asman, there in the Rift Valley. Asman told me that they had a good meeting and are planning to work together. At the time I put them in touch it was during the violence – it did not even cross my mind that Jonathan is a Kalenjin and Asman is Kikuyu. Asman told me that it was a miracle for both of them to sit together and even have a cup of tea!’
For the past three years a small core of 40 pastors have been attending the Langham training programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and developing preachers’ clubs in their home regions. And now? ‘We have actually 28 clubs in the country with 298 members’, says country coordinator Muhindo Isesomo, who travels widely to encourage them. ‘And I believe this will increase after the next Langham training of trainers event in October’. Through the generosity of friends at St Andrew’s church Oxford we have recently been able to support their work through the provision of bikes and Bibles, enabling the pastors to travel to their many scattered congregations and to meet to study scripture together.
The story is similar elsewhere in the world. Ghana reports the cascade effect of the training through local meetings in different denominations; two good groups are meeting in Jamaica; in Tanzania, preachers’ clubs have been established across the country, forming the base for 13 regional programmes which are now starting small training events for local pastors. And in Bolivia and Columbia, and other Latin countries, preachers’ clubs are vital training arenas – so much so they are called ‘escuelitas’, little schools for preachers. For any movement to catch fire, local people must own it, and passionate and committed people in the country must drive it forward. We don’t know if this will happen in each country, but this is what we pray for – national preaching movements which seek to unite, encourage, equip, train and inspire all those who are faithfully teaching and preaching God’s Word.