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Why Train Indigenous Church Leaders? (Part 2)

mallet“He tore it down—all of it,” recalled one devastated church member. The beautiful, costly building that had housed their precious community for decades had been ripped apart, destroyed by one member and his hammer under the false impression that the Holy Spirit commanded him to do it. There was no council, no planning, no discussions, no preparations—just one man and a supposed revelation from God.

This tragic story illustrates another reason why TMAI trains national church leaders. In part 1 of this series, we saw that the training of pastors and church leaders is a biblical mandate. In part 2, we will see that training of indigenous church leaders is critically needed because errant theology devastates churches around the globe.

Reason #2: Bad Theology Destroys Churches (Literally)

The tragic story above began with a charismatic and influential missionary who came to Central America to plant a church. Indeed, the man seemed very successful, and church attendance grew steadily for years. One longtime member, however, in retrospect described the messages as “broth without meat, leaving those of us who had been there for years very malnourished.” Of the pastor, he said, “He had wonderful intentions, and of this I’m so thankful, but when he died, in his wake there was much theological confusion and chaos.” Nobody was prepared or trained to take the mantle of leadership, and ultimately, one of the late missionary’s disciples destroyed the building and took control by fiat, leading whoever would follow into increasingly false teaching even to this day.

Bad theology ravages churches because, among other things, it provides the cover under which false teachers can infiltrate the flock. One pastor in Honduras pleads, “The church here is in mortal danger, and we need more than ever men who are well-trained in the theology of our Lord Jesus Christ, who can stop the encroachment of false gospels and shut the mouths of those who contradict the truth.”

This is why TMAI takes so seriously the charge to train indigenous church leaders. Local church leaders must be given the tools necessary to grow in discernment so that they can protect their churches from Satan’s schemes. This has always been the job of the leaders of the church. For this reason, both Paul and Peter warned about false teachers and the ill effects they would bring (2 Pet 2:1–3; 1 Tim 4:1–5), and charged the leaders of the church to “guard the good deposit” entrusted to them.

Ministerios Evangélicos de las Américas (MEDA), a member of TMAI in Honduras, is on the front line of this battle. More than 100 churches send men to MEDA for training. They recently hosted a conference, “Unmasking the Prosperity Gospel,” which is already seeing much fruit. MEDA has been instrumental in saving many souls from the clutches of false teachers. To give just one example, a member of a large church led by a famous “apostle” came to MEDA out of curiosity and to sit under their teaching. Though he initially chafed at what he heard, he was later greatly convicted and fled to the bathroom to weep in repentance and true faith for the first time in his life as a new man.

Biblical Worhip 2015.04.16 Montoya b

Moments like these remind us why we do what we do. Though bad theology has great destructive power and can literally tear down churches, nothing is as powerful as the true gospel. Only this gospel is the power of God unto salvation, which, in every sense, builds up the body of Christ to the glory of God the Father.

[Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4]