Every time I go to the hardware store, the same thing happens. Even though I am there just to buy one thing, I cannot stop looking at all the different tools. I say to myself, “If I had all these tools and I knew how to use them, it would be fantastic!”
I remember a similar feeling when I graduated from seminary. I felt that I was taking a toolbox filled with tools to confront and resolve all the problems of the church. I thought, “Church, here I come, ready to confront all the challenges! If Christ is with me (and this toolbox), victory is assured.”
Some I didn’t know how to use (in the classroom, things looked easy; but now, in the church, it was different). Others were complex, and there was no time to develop them. Others had expired, and, sadly, other tools just stayed in the bottom of the box, getting rusty because I never used them.
Some years ago, rearranging some papers, I found my seminary curriculum. I was impressed to see the number of courses and hours I had studied. I felt some pride as a result of that. But I also have to confess that, for a significant number of these courses, I could hardly remember their content, their objectives or their usefulness.
Please don’t get me wrong. I always thank God for giving me the opportunity to attend seminary. However, I think that it was just like a visit to the hardware store — it showed me the large amount of tools at my disposal. I didn’t understand the limitations. I was not an expert in using the tools, nor did I know well enough the arena where I would use them.
Putting the tools to work
After 15 years in ministry, one of my former seminary professors invited me to be part of ProMETA. The first thing I thought was, “Is it worth it to study after all these years in ministry? Wasn’t all I had already studied enough?” Yet, with some questions in my mind and doubts in my heart, I accepted.
Something very interesting happened. I started seeing something different in the tools I was acquiring this time. These tools were selected for someone that was already “at work” trying to respond to the needs of the contemporary church.
I felt like a construction worker at the top of the house, asking a coworker to throw me a saw. There was very little discussion about the need for the saw. Clearly a saw was needed, it was just a matter of grabbing one.
Recognizing the value
I thank God for each course that the professors “threw” to me. I remember that I would frequently comment to my co-servants in the ministry, at the beginning of the courses, that “this is exactly what we need!”
The fact that I now had several years in ministry, that I knew the field of work, and that I had identified critical needs in the ministry all led me to better appreciate the usefulness and the value of those tools.
Now I have a refinished/renewed toolbox. (Because we are now in the digital era, I have them in a portable CD carrier. I have CDs for each course.) All of them are clean, up-to-date, well-oiled. Not only have these tools helped me to respond to the needs of my own church, but they have also helped to meet the the needs of the network of churches that I serve.
Now I am not one that walks through the hardware store impressed by the variety of tools. I am a persistent user of them, and on occasion (by God’s grace), I am behind the counter advising new buyers about which tool will work best for their ministry work.
I thank God (and the ProMETA team) for being pioneers in this new paradigm in theological formation. The Spanish-speaking leaders have, in ProMETA, the opportunity of renewing and improving the quality of their ministries.
Testimony shared by Samuel, ProMETA student living in Maturin, Venezuela. A highly-respected educator among both church members and professionals, Samuel directs the Christian Education department in his denomination and has written many materials in the area of church-based training. His influence reaches a network of more than 120 churches in a growing denomination in Venezuela, but he also teaches cross-denominationally and has played an integral role in equipping leaders for a church planting movement throughout the country.
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Note: Historically, ProMETA has been known as LATN to English-speakers. The ministry is now in the process of moving to just one name — ProMETA — for both English- and Spanish-speakers. In the meantime, please view these two names as equivalent in anything you might read. They represent the same organization and ministry. Thank you for your understanding!
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