Entrust Equipping Leaders
Formal and non-formal training during the Cold War and today
August 19, 2022
Dr. Scott Klingsmith on plusses and minuses of non-formal ministry training behind the Iron Curtain
Guest Dr. Scott Klingsmith, former missiologist in residence at Denver Seminary and now serving with WorldVenture, describes providing ministry training for pastors behind the Iron Curtain. How did non-formal training work, in contrast to formal training after the Cold War? How are the two types of training converging today?

Dr. Klingsmith's Entrust Equipping Leaders article: https://www.entrust4.org/post/formal-and-nonformal-christian-education-definitions-advantages-and-challenges

WorldVenture (Dr. Klingsmith's bio) https://worldventure.com/pworker/4000-367-klingsmith-scott/

Denver Seminary https://denverseminary.edu/

| Speaker Name | Start Time | Transcript | Intro/Outro (Todd) | 00;00;01;28 | Welcome to Equipping Christian Leaders. A podcast resource from Entrust. Entrust’s calling is to multiply leaders from multiplying churches. Find out about us at our website, www.entrust4.org, that's entrust4.org. And now here's Laurie Lind with today's guest. Scott Klingsmith of Denver Seminary.
| Laurie | 00;00;27;03 | it's great to have Dr Scott Klingsmith who with us on equipping Christian leaders today. And Scott, you go back a ways with our ministry and trust. I was wondering if you could tell us a bit about your history with with a trust and also just some of your involvement in training Christian leaders over the years.
| Scott | 00;00;49;28 | So my my first involvement with theological education was right after I finished college. I went to Calcutta, India to teach in Calcutta Bible College, and I went to teach music, which in that context was a little bit of a joke. But it gave me my first exposure to theological education outside of the of the United States and really helped me to begin to see that that's a place where that I could have an impact myself we joined in trust in 1985 and after a period of raising support, we landed in Vienna in 1988.
| Scott | 00;01;36;28 | And so primary, primary involvement at the beginning was traveling to East Germany with a variety of times, going to Czechoslovakia to countries which no longer exist. And then we after the walls came down, we spent some time in Romania. I had a focus there for about five years and, and since that time I've still been involved in really equipping, equipping leaders, equipping church leaders, equipping people for cross-cultural ministry in a variety of contexts, both in kind of mentoring relationships, in a variety of non-formal things, as well as teaching in several different schools.
| Scott | 00;02;27;15 | School in Germany. I taught for a while, and then I've been at Denver Seminary now for 12 years.
| Laurie | 00;02;32;20 | And what are your roles or what is your title at Denver Seminary?
| Scott | 00;02;37;21 | It's a title that nobody knows what it means, and so it allows a great deal of flexibility My official title is missiologist in residence, which basically means I try to encourage engagement with the world especially cross-culturally in any kind of way that I can. So I teach Christian history primarily, and intercultural ministry courses here.
| Laurie | 00;03;06;06 | Maybe you can describe a little bit what you were doing during the Communist years. You were training Christian leaders but by nature of the situation, it had to be non-formal. What did you do and how did that work?
| Scott | 00;03;21;17 | Well, the basic way it worked is that students had materials that somehow magically appeared in there in their hands. Those of us who taught had no idea how that happened, and we weren't supposed to, but they had workbooks and textbooks that they would study on their own. And then we had a variety of courses that we would work through with them.
| Scott | 00;03;49;13 | And so those of us who were facilitating would join a group usually once a month depended on the context and would spend an evening with them talking through the materials that they had learned on their own, encouraging them to to move further, talking about application, usually giving giving some kind of inputs just to try to encourage them and give them a little bit of an additional context.
| Scott | 00;04;22;20 | So we assumed that the primary content transfer came through the written materials and then our job as teachers really was to help them integrate those things into life and to try to go deeper basically in a discussion kind of setting.
| Laurie | 00;04;44;03 | And in doing this, you say you were traveling in and out to these countries and kind of quietly low key meeting with these guys. Do you feel that these men through that method of learning, really became well equipped to actually pastor or or in other ways serve in the local church.
| Scott | 00;05;07;02 | Given the restrictions that we were dealing with? I think so. I don't I don't think it was the optimal thing. I think that had we been able to have more regular ongoing life on life contact, that maybe we could have been more effective We were we were in and out. So we weren't living with them. They weren't able to see us in any fuller way than when we showed up for 4 hours a month.
| Scott | 00;05;45;25 | So I think had we had the option to be more engaged at a personal level, that maybe we could have been more effective. But I think given the restrictions many, many people got training that otherwise they had no access to and were much better equipped to lead churches and ministries than they would have been otherwise.
| Laurie | 00;06;13;20 | Mm hmm. And then you did say that even so, after the walls came down, a lot of these countries and these leaders of churches and pastors quickly reverted back to classroom settings. They set up Bible schools and put people in chairs in rows and tables. And. Yeah, why do you think they did that?
| Scott | 00;06;36;15 | That's the way they were socialized that schools is the way you learn. And what we did in groups was was really good since we couldn't have schools. But if we can have schools, we should. And in several cases, it took a little while before they realized that actually the training that they'd had in a more non-formal in a more discussion based setting actually equipped them better for ministry than just sitting in a classroom listening to somebody lecture.
| Scott | 00;07;14;29 | But but the the assumption deeply ingrained was simply that schools are the best way to train people.
| Laurie | 00;07;24;27 | And how did that turn out? I mean, would you call that say that that was good, bad, neutral? What effect did that have on ongoing training?
| Scott | 00;07;36;23 | Well, OK, I'll give one example. In Bucharest, we had a group that formed of young pastors young Baptist pastors who were recent graduates of the seminary and.
| Laurie | 00;07;52;02 | Came.
| Scott | 00;07;52;11 | Out.
| Laurie | 00;07;52;26 | Which seminary was that?
| Scott | 00;07;54;24 | The Baptist Seminary.
| Laurie | 00;07;55;25 | Right. So a Romanian run seminary. OK, OK.
| Scott | 00;07;59;20 | Mm hmm. And they came out with a really good education in terms of languages, in terms of theology, in terms of biblical studies, those kinds of things. And they became pastors Many of these guys were 20 to 24 years old, something like that, and discovered that they didn't have any idea about how to work with people or how to actually lead churches.
| Scott | 00;08;28;22 | And so they, they found us, even though they had already had a formal theological education we had great times together, taking them more into the practical aspects of ministry. They were in ministry at that point. And so there were immediate applications for them. And so, yeah, we had we had this great group. So so in some cases, it just took a little while for for people to see that sitting in the classroom wasn't necessarily the most effective way to equip equip people for ministry.
| Laurie | 00;09;07;16 | Hmm. It does seem like you say, they had the knowledge, they had the, the factual information, but then the, the day to day application thereof was where they needed more.
| Scott | 00;09;20;05 | Exactly.
| Laurie | 00;09;21;29 | So, you know, how would in these countries, especially overseas, but even here in the in the West, there's an aspiring pastor or an elder, a church leader if their only only of access to non formal training like like this kind of like like we used to give in under communism in those countries. How do they become solid in doctrine theology systematically Well.
| Scott | 00;09;50;20 | I mean I mean here in the West, the variety of resources that are available are way, way more than any any person can actually handle. Yeah. So so if a person wants to grow in their biblical knowledge and their theological understanding, there are lots and lots of resources and that's a little bit of a different story in much of the rest of the world where the number of written resources is much more limited.
| Scott | 00;10;22;09 | And so access becomes a big issue. But really, even even here, both non formally and formally, access is is maybe the key the key issue right now Schools traditionally have required somebody to uproot, to move to wherever the school is to take two, three, four years out of their life and concentrate on the academic aspect of things. And today, for increasing numbers of people here as well as around the world, that simply is not possible.
| Scott | 00;11;05;25 | And and so having access to training materials or to training groups of one kind or another where they don't have to leave their home, they don't have to leave their job or their ministry and are able to continue to learn in their own setting just provides opportunities that for people that otherwise would have really no access to theological education in any way.
| Laurie | 00;11;35;24 | Right. And there are definitely those drawbacks. Like you say, that uprooting. So are there more of those non-formal opportunities available? What kinds of things are available out there for those who can't uproot and go away to a seminary or for whom that's not the best option?
| Scott | 00;11;57;20 | Well, certainly there are there are a variety of training opportunities in various places around the world. Some are well, established through older mission agencies. I mean, Entrust is a prime example of that. What we did in Eastern Europe it was great for a time, and there are now opportunities around the world through interest. But there are lots of other organizations that are that are offering similar kinds of training.
| Scott | 00;12;33;01 | What's interesting for me is that there's really been a convergence. It's been coming for the last several years. But especially I think the pandemic has brought this to a floor, that there's really a convergence between non-formal programs informal programs that colleges and seminaries in many places, not everywhere yet, but in many places have. Through that through the options of online education and and zoom and all these technological advances been able to increase their presence to people in ways that traditionally only non-formal programs did.
| Scott | 00;13;18;26 | And so and so there's there's an ability now basically for anybody in the world to access seminary education or Bible school education with the same advantages that non-formal programs traditionally have offered of being able to stay on on site and in place and be able to integrate ministry and learning. And so, so the options are are really expanding right now in in both formal.
| Scott | 00;13;53;22 | And informal ways.
| Laurie | 00;13;58;21 | It's so great to hear about a positive development coming from the pandemic, right? We'll leave it there for today. And next time Dr. Klingsmith describes how his formal training setting Denver Seminary is incorporating some of the strengths of non formal training, including a really inspiring mentoring opportunity for students. This conversation with Dr. Klingsmith expands on his blog article, which you can find at www.entrust4.org under resources, than just choose the Equipping Christian Leaders blog.
| Laurie | 00;14;33;22 | Dr. Kingsmith's article was posted on May 10, 2021. Finally, here's a question to think about and talk about until next time. What do you see as strengths of formal training for pastors, and what do you see as strengths of non formal training for pastors? Give that some thought and I look forward to seeing you next time on Equipping Christian Leaders.