One of the blessings of working on a new website and rebranding project is the ability to take a breath, step back, and reflect on who we are as an organization.

Over the last six months, as we’ve worked on this project, we’ve asked ourselves, “Who is Reaching & Teaching?” 

To start, since 2009, we have worked to meet the enormous need for theological training around the world. An estimated 85% of the world’s Christian leaders have little to no access to formal theological training. In many places, theological training infrastructure and the availability of theological resources have lagged behind the growth of the church, severely limiting the health of local churches. For our first five years, Reaching & Teaching singularly sent short-term teams overseas to address this need. Starting in 2013, the organization started sending long-term missionaries. 

One can point to a number of reasons that theological training has lagged behind the growth of the church. It would take a full-length book to describe the various reasons why this happens. Too often, we’ve seen a lack of theological training due to methodologies that prioritize rapid expansion at the expense of deep discipleship. 

Over the last seven years, our missionaries have become involved in other vital activities, in addition to training up local leaders. We believe that the best type of pastoral training happens in the context of healthy local churches and so our missionaries work to see healthy churches established and unhealthy churches revitalized. We believe that healthy local churches are God’s chosen means for making mature disciples in their communities. When pastors are equipped to teach God’s Word and shepherd their church, the gospel is spread throughout the world.

Healthy local churches are also composed of members who are faithful in evangelism and discipleship, resulting in new Christians baptized and added to their local assembly in covenant membership. We don’t train leaders for the sake of “head knowledge.” We seek to equip pastors to shepherd well and preach faithfully. We desire to see local churches around the world that operate as embassies that represent our King well. Healthy churches, therefore, are not only led by mature shepherds. They are also full of faithful ambassadors. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul writes, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Healthy churches consist of members (ambassadors) who faithfully represent their king and emphasize the increasing maturity of those members.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:11-16).

Reaching & Teaching aims to make mature disciples, establish healthy churches, and train local leaders.

Even as our teams take part in evangelism, discipleship, and establishing churches, they prioritize training up local believers to participate in those tasks. Our mission is to advance the gospel worldwide through long-term missionary mobilization, short-term theological training trips, ministry apprenticeships, and strategic church partnerships. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ve invited some of our personnel and some of our ministry friends to contribute blog posts on our three primary activities at Reaching & Teaching. Our first week will focus on “Making Mature Disciples.” Our second week will focus on “Establishing Healthy Churches” and our third week of posts will discuss the importance of “Training Local Leaders.” While some of the posts will focus on those activities themselves, others will focus on the fruit of those tasks. 

These are not tasks that are exclusive to missionaries. Wherever God has placed you, may these things characterize your local church and your work in it. May the Gospel be spread, may pastors be found faithful, may young leaders be equipped. As the great hymn says, We long to see thy churches full that all the chosen race may, with one voice and heart and soul, sing thy redeeming grace.

Thank you for being a part of this vital work! 

Ryan Robertson

Ryan Robertson serves as President of Reaching & Teaching. He is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Missiology program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ryan and his wife Erin have three children and are members of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, where Ryan also serves as an elder.

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