Training church leaders from Brazil to the ends of the earth
The final project of a retiring BMS World Mission worker has helped to train thousands of church leaders in more than 25 countries
“It has become a worldwide phenomenon,” says Dr John Dyer. Three years away from retirement as a BMS mission worker, John was given the task of setting up a project for training church leaders in the remotest parts of Brazil.
John’s decision to put the training online has meant it has not only been used by church leaders in remote parts of Brazil, but also has captured the imagination of Christians all over the world.
Since it was launched in March 2011, the online training course for church leaders (called the Timothy Project) has had over 1,000 registrations in 28 countries – you can see on this map where the project has been and is being taught.
An estimated 5,000 people have used the Timothy Project, most of whom would not have had access to theological education before because they couldn’t afford it or don’t have a Bible college nearby.
The response from users has been incredible. “The Timothy Project is a great blessing to me personally and in the work that I am doing in the Peruvian Amazon,” says Luis Alvarado, pastor and mission worker with the Peruvian Baptist Convention.
And this is the kind of feedback that John has received from other areas. “The content is consistent, edifying and effective. God be glorified through the Timothy Project team!” said one Baptist church in northern Brazil.
And since then, the Timothy Project has, like the Apostle it is named after, travelled far further than the country it was born in from Central and South America to sub-Saharan Africa and even Japan.
The Timothy Project is now available in Portuguese, Spanish and English, and has modules covering a range of church leadership skills from preaching biblical messages to planting churches. Most of the topics were chosen by a group of indigenous mission workers in north east Brazil that John consulted with. “We are confident that the chosen themes reflect the needs of both individual church leaders and the churches where they work,” John says.
John co-wrote a module on creation care with his son João Marcos, who is an environmental consultant in Manchester. “As stewards of creation, Christians have a major responsibility in relation to environmental issues and should be aware of the part they can play in preserving planet earth for this and future generations,” says John. “With that in mind, we felt it was timely and it was important we had this kind of material on the course.”
The Timothy Project is free and easy to use – once registered, users can download each module to either study on their own or to teach at their church – John has heard of groups of up to 60 people being taught the modules. The Timothy Project is intentionally interactive so it is relevant to the different contexts in which church leaders are serving. John is delighted that it has been so successful.
“It certainly has grown beyond our wildest expectations,” he says. “The reasons for this are an evident need for this kind of project and the quality of the material, which has been very widely praised, but also it is a project that is financially and geographically accessible for the churches it is intended to help.
"There are no limits to where the Timothy Project can go.”
Find out more about the Timothy Project.
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Map photo taken from MapCustomizer (c) Patrick Kaeding
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission