Educating Pastors is Vital to Church Health :: Prometa

The heart, mission, and even tagline of ReachGlobal is “Develop, Empower, Release”.  We, in whatever ministry we are involved in, have this as our goal in all things.  To develop leaders, to empower them in multiplying and empower them to go forth and disciple, and then to release them.  We want to be disciple makers making disciple makers.

ProMETA is a ministry that lives out this goal so perfectly in all they do.  They are a perfect example of what multiplication could look like in the church and on the mission field.  This ministry, which is an online seminary program, done fully in Spanish, has just recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary.  However, it was a dream for many years before that, and in process even as the internet was just coming of age.

Because of its unique design, these incredibly experienced, wise, and well-educated Bible teachers can get to places where it is impossible to travel at the moment, especially Venezuela and parts of Cuba.  Those who wouldn’t be able to afford a seminary education are given the opportunity through the many scholarships offered, as well as the overall affordable class prices.

Please pray for ProMETA and its ongoing work of training up leaders and pastors in the Latin American church.

For more information on ProMETA, their classes or how to be involved, please email keith.anderson@efca.org or visit their website at http://prometa.info

 

Taking Bytes of the Bible

ProMETA delivers seminary courses online

For Latin American church leaders like Hernan Aguilar, the online education revolution has delivered something that was once out of their reach: a top-shelf theological education.

Hernan is a member of Vida Abundante Del Sur Church in Desamparados, Costa Rica. He leads a discipleship program of 200 people within his church of 700 members, on top of his full-time job as a field representative for a large Christian non-profit.

As a father, husband, career man, church board member and discipleship leader, Hernan (like thousands of other Latin American pastors) has little time for seminary classes, let alone the money or the means to travel to them.

However, with ProMETA (the Spanish acronym for “Accessible Master’s Programs in Theological Education”), Hernan has been able to take seminary classes without sacrificing the other responsibilities in his life.

“ProMETA for me was God’s answer to prayer,” Hernan says.

Sharp students, accessible courses

ProMETA is an online, non-profit seminary program started in 2006 by ReachGlobal – after six years of testing. Based in San Jose, Costa Rica, ProMETA offers flexible and accessible Biblical training to Latin American leaders, all in Spanish, though additional materials are available in English and Portuguese. 

A full 60-hour master’s degree curriculum costs about $4,200. Students can earn a master’s degree either in contextualized biblical theology or Christian leadership.

ProMETA currently has 109 students from 19 countries (incoming students must have a college degree). The average student age is 42, and many are professionals who come with a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. Many students also work as pastors, either full-time or in addition to other full-time careers such as engineering or medicine.

However, most have no formal Bible training — and it’s the Bible training they really want, says Ted, ProMETA’s Academic Dean.

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“You’re talking about people very thirsty for learning more. So they’re sharp people with a lot of motivation.”

— Ted, ProMETA academic dean

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“They’re in ministry – this isn’t preparation for ministry,” Ted says. “So they are looking for answers, they’re looking for ways to improve their ministry, deepen their knowledge and skills.

“You’re talking about people very thirsty for learning more. So they’re sharp people with a lot of motivation. That makes it a wonderful learning experience – for the teachers, above all.”

Education made relevant 

A typical ProMETA class might have 10 students from four or five different countries connected through the class forums and, often, live discussions over Skype. Through its online forums and discussions, ProMETA wants to make theological education both flexible and available for Latin American leaders like Hernan, says Keith, ProMETA’s director.

“We are targeting the Hernans of Latin America that can take principles and craft something … that is relevant to their culture and totally biblical,” Keith says.

Hernan, 44, has been attending ProMETA classes since 2010 and has completed about 40 percent of his theology degree coursework. His goal is to pass on what he’s learned as a ProMETA student to other leaders in his church. His hope is to increase the number of people in the church’s discipleship program from 200 to 560 – 80 percent of the church.

Along with Vida Abudante del Sur’s pastor and other leaders, Hernan developed all of the discipleship material from scratch. The discipleship program teaches basic theology and doctrine of Christianity, leadership, and other key ministry values—for example, excellence, discipline and friendship.

Hernan leads the committee that produces the materials, and he then assists in teaching the leaders within the program who go on to teach their own private groups. That kind of vision and initiative exemplifies what ProMETA tries to instill, according to Keith.

“The advantage that Hernan has is he’s writing it as a Latin American and he knows how to contextualize it,” Keith says. “The way he writes it, the examples that he uses, the words — they all connect with the new believers, whereas a missionary would be totally oblivious to all of that. So that produces more effective disciples.”

Hernan, who has not yet finished the program, says he is enjoying his education and the professors so far. He has found the program rigorous and relevant to Latin American culture.

“I have developed skills and knowledge and ambition as a leader — ambition that all of our members of the church become disciples,” Hernan says. “The program has helped me to serve better in my church.”

And that really is the motivation behind what ProMETA does.

“We’ve got a very strong feeling and desire to equip those people who are in a position to make the biggest impact on their region so that there’s a strong ripple effect from these folks,” Ted says. “They’re capable of teaching other people already. We just want to make them effective in that.”

PRAY 

  • For students’ lives, ministries, and nations to be transformed as a result of their studies with ProMETA.
  • That ProMETA will find new ways to make the school accessible to a wider audience of Christian leaders in the region.
  • That ProMETA will find new sources of long-term funding for its programs.
  • That ProMETA will attract and retain students who can train others in solid theology and practice.
  • For the health and growth of churches that ProMETA students lead and minister in.
  • That God would widen the positive influence of ProMETA students and their churches so that the gospel of Jesus can penetrate more and more communities.

LEARN MORE

See a photo gallery about one area of ReachGlobal’s work in Costa Rica.

Read more about ReachGlobal’s work in Latin America.

GIVE

If you’d like to support the development of ProMETA courses, go here.
If you’d like to support the ProMETA scholarship fund, go here.

Celebrating ProMETA’s First Graduates

On April 30, ProMETA honored six graduates — not only celebrating their accomplishments in the virtual classroom but also their impact as Christian leaders in Latin America.

Mario Lopez (Venezuela), Samuel Marcano (Venezuela) and Guido Santamaria (Costa Rica), graduated with Master’s degrees from ProMETA — the culmination of many hours of hard work and study.

ProMETA is the Spanish acronym for “Accessible Master’s Programs in Theological Studies.” It is a 100-percent online international education ministry that provides theological training for Christian leaders in the Spanish-speaking world.

Three others (Alexander Cabezas and Esaú Bonilla from Costa Rica and German Arias from Venezuela) earned graduate certificates for their studies. Two of these men plan to continue on with ProMETA, working toward a Master’s degree.

At the end of his video salutation for graduation, Mario thanked the people who had supported him during his studies, especially his wife and children. “It wasn’t easy to study in ProMETA, but it was worth it,” Mario says.

Ted, EFCA ReachGlobal missionary and ProMETA’s dean of students, estimated that the graduates each put in 2,500 hours of studying, writing, reading and interacting with professors and fellow students over the past few years.

As the families, friends and ProMETA professors and staff knew well, the graduates had not only completed their classes in theology and biblical leadership, but they also had balanced those classes with full-time work, ministry and family life.

A hard-earned milestone

“It took over a decade to write the courses, choose and modify the technology, train mentors, raise funds, [and] recruit staff,” says Keith, EFCA ReachGlobal missionary and ProMETA director. “But God orchestrated everything so that in 2011, ProMETA was able to honor six Latin American leaders with their [degrees and certificates].”

About 50 attendees — mostly family, friends, fellow ProMETA students and ProMETA faculty and staff — enjoyed the ceremony in person in San José, Costa Rica — snapping photographs, exchanging congratulatory hugs and handshakes, and sipping punch. Two other groups gathered remotely in Venezuela to honor Mario and Samuel for their accomplishments.

“It was amazing to realize that, at the moment Dr. Ted Kautzmann was placing the Master’s hood on Pastor Guido Santamaria in Costa Rica, Pastors Samuel Marcano and Mario Lopez were being hooded at two separate venues nearly 300 miles apart in Venezuela,” Keith says.

One certificate graduate missed out on the ceremony, though.

Learning in action

In an ironic twist, Esaú Bonilla, head pastor of a church in Costa Rica, was busy teaching in Bogotá, Colombia — putting to use the very education for which he was being honored in the graduation ceremony.

“God gave me the opportunity to participate in a series of lectures in two churches in the city of Bogotá, specifically on the topics of spiritual formation and Christian leadership,” Esaú explains.

ProMETA played a role in preparing him for this ministry trip.

“A lot of the material that I used in the talks that I gave came from the work that I did for [ProMETA] courses and from my own exegetical analyses,” Esaú says.

Although sorry for the absence of Esaú, Keith was proud to see the impact of ProMETA resounding throughout Latin America — even on graduation day.

“God is in the business of building His church,” Keith says. “And what a significant statement to that effect is made when a graduate misses his own graduation ceremony because of a commitment to equip leaders in another country! Seeing direct results through multiplication in the lives of high impact leaders gives those of us who minister in ProMETA great joy and satisfaction.”

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CONNECT

latn@efca.org

SERVE
  • Join the ProMETA staff and help equip Spanish-speaking Christian leaders throughout the world.
  • Help serve as a ProMETA champion in the United States or Canada, promoting its ministry to potential donors, both individuals and churches.
PRAY
  • For the six ProMETA graduates as they continue to impact the world for Christ.
  • For the continued success of the ProMETA program — that additional leaders would be well-equipped for the wide variety of ministries they are leading and participating in around the world.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the ProMETA Scholarship Fund.

SHARE

Graduation Ceremony: You’re Invited

Saturday, April 30, 2011, will be an historic day as students, professors, staff, friends and family gather together in celebration of the accomplishments of the first students to graduate from ProMETA.

ProMETA (also known as the Latin America Training Network in the English-speaking world) provides master’s level theological education to Spanish-speakers throughout the world. The program is 100% online, making higher education accessible to pastors and leaders who do not have the option to leave home (including their families and their full-time jobs or ministries) to pursue their studies.

[Read the testimony of a ProMETA student in Venezuela to learn more about ProMETA’s impact.]

After several years of dedicated studies, six students (three each from Costa Rica and Venezuela) will graduate on Saturday. “The ‘first-fruits’ of what is to come,” says Keith, EFCA ReachGlobal missionary and ProMETA Director.

In keeping with the virtual nature of the program, the graduation gathering will include a live online broadcast in addition to a physical ceremony in Costa Rica (home to ProMETA headquarters). The Venezuelan students and their families will participate in the ceremony remotely from Venezuela, although they will receive their diplomas in person from a Christian leader in their community.

Because the broadcast is live on the internet, ProMETA has the honor of inviting everyone — regardless of location — to join the celebration on Saturday. The ceremony begins at 6pm Eastern/4pm Mountain Time. Don’t miss this historic event and an opportunity to rejoice in the Lord’s work through ProMETA.

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CONNECT

latn@efca.org

SERVE
  • Join the ProMETA staff and help equip Spanish-speaking Christian leaders throughout the world.
  • Help serve as a ProMETA champion in the United States or Canada, promoting its ministry to potential donors, both individuals and churches.
PRAY
  • For the six ProMETA graduates as they continue to impact the world for Christ.
  • That there will be no technological difficulties during the ceremony on Saturday.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the ProMETA Scholarship Fund.

SHARE

The Right Tools

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.”

Untapped potential

With time, I realized that I was not able to use all the tools I had.

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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CONNECT

latn@efca.org

SERVE
  • Join the ProMETA staff and help equip Spanish-speaking Christian leaders throughout the world.
  • Help serve as a ProMETA champion in the United States or Canada, promoting its ministry to potential donors, both individuals and churches.
PRAY
  • For the hard-working ProMETA students as they balance their education with their ministry, work and family responsibilities.
  • For the continued multiplication of God’s Kingdom through the high-impact ministries of the students.
GIVE

Make an online donation to the ProMETA Scholarship Fund.

SHARE