Training Pastors: What I Want to Be If I Grow Up

After stepping down as senior pastor at Grace Community Church in February of 2015, I think I finally know what I want to be if I grow up. I originally stepped down because I felt like God was leading me to dedicate more time to writing and speaking outside of the church, with a priority on the international pastor’s conferences that I have been part of for the past eight years with Global Advance. Since then, I now feel like God is calling me to pursue training pastors full time. So what’s next for me?

Pastoral and leadership training here in America is like opening another restaurant – there’s one on virtually every corner. On the other hand, pastoral and leadership training throughout the developing world is like opening a lone food bank in the midst of starving people!
— John Piper

So far, I have had the privilege of traveling to nine countries and speaking at fifteen pastors and business leaders conferences. I’ve invested in over 5,000 pastors and ministry leaders, church planters, business leaders, and next generation leaders.

While I have enjoyed working on my blog and book projects, these pastors conferences have been, by far, the most rewarding. To be able to play a small part in training pastors and encouraging these men and women who have no access to formal education is such an honor.

I am so humbled when I stand in front of these pastors because they are planting churches  in some of the most remote parts of the world like the jungles on the Amazon river to the mountain villages of Nepal. They are the ones shining the light in some of the darkest, most difficult, and dangerous places like post-communist Russia and Muslim controlled Central Asia and Northern Africa. The majority of them are living in poverty, have lost their jobs, friends, and family because they are answering God’s call for their lives. Despite overwhelming difficulties, they continue to spread the gospel in places you and I could never reach.

I can’t think of anything I have done, or could do, that has the potential to impact the Kingdom more than investing in and training pastors. I wholeheartedly believe that one of the most effective ways to reach and disciple a nation is by training pastors and leaders who already know the language, culture, and customs. This allows them to reach and disciple their own people for Jesus Christ.

Karen and I have spent so much time in prayer and believe that God is calling me to pursue training pastors full time. As a result of this calling, instead of taking three to five trips a year, I hope to take between fifteen and twenty. I will continue to travel with Global Advance but I will also work with some of the leaders that I have met over the years. I will spend a longer period of time (one or two weeks) with a smaller group of individuals in order to complete more in-depth training.

While the conferences are great, because of their brevity and the number of pastors attending, there is, by necessity, less time training pastors and more time encouraging them. So for me to have the privilege to spend time with 20-30 pastors and do in-depth teaching on things like leadership, theology, how to study and interpret scripture, or going through a specific book of the Bible, would be even more beneficial. My hope is to try this throughout the year to see which groups I connect with and sense God drawing me to. Then, I plan to meet with this same group year after year, or multiple times a year, to continue training pastors.

The simple fact is that most of you reading this blog have more biblical knowledge and have access to more training than they do. However, most of these men and women are already pastoring churches – some with just a few people and some with hundreds. In addition, many of these people are already in the process of planting new churches. There is a tremendous need to support these men and women of God who already have more responsibility but less education than most of you do. My desire is to serve these pastors so that they become stronger, more knowledgeable, and more confident in their calling. A stronger pastor means a stronger church; and a stronger church will have a greater impact on their community.

A stronger church will have a greater impact on their community.

 

How Can You Help?

Not only do I feel called to this ministry, I am compelled to do it, and I can’t stop thinking about it. This is where I need your help. The expenses for each trip come out of my pocket, and I often help with the cost of the conference as well; therefore, there’s no way I can take this on without a team of people partnering with me financially. Since this will be my full time job, I need to raise enough money to cover my travel expenses, teaching materials, and a modest salary.

Today, at least 75% of the world’s Christians are non-Western, or living in what is called the ‘Majority World.’ This means Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. But 80% of Majority World pastors have no formal biblical training.
— John Stott Ministries

Financial

Those of you that know me know that I would rather gargle with broken glass than ask for money; however, there’s just no way I can do this without help. After estimating all of my expenses, I will need to raise around $135,000.00 a year. The travel expenses and teaching materials alone are more than half of the budget! I plan to continue writing, but it will become less of a priority. Plus, the $21.98 that Amazon.com deposited into my account last month didn’t go very far. I would like to ask you to pray and ask God if He wants you to partner with us financially, and how much that should be.

Prayer

More important than finances, I need a team of people willing to pray for me. I will be traveling to some areas of the world that are dangerous physically, but even more areas that are spiritually dangerous. Please pray for both Karen and me; pray for my physical and spiritual protection, pray for Karen to remain safe while I am gone, and pray for our marriage and family. We simply need all the prayer we can get.

At the end of Philippians, Paul thanks the Philippian church for supporting him as he went out to minister to other churches. In fact, they were the only ones to do so. He wrote to them, “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” He says that by doing so, they were just as much a part of what God was doing as he was. They were “partners” in the gospel. That will be true of those of you who God leads to be part of what He has called me to do. We will truly be partners in ministry, because it is simply not possible otherwise. So again, please pray. Ask God if and how He would like for you to become part of reaching out to the nations for the sake of the gospel.

Ready to Get Involved?

If you would like to be involved, please send an email to steve@stevelawson.us or let me know in the comments section on Facebook, and I would be honored to send you more information. If you would like to partner with me financially, you can do so through my non-profit ministry – Leadership Transformation International, PO Box 9281, Greenville, TX 75404-9281. Leadership Transformation International is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization; your contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. You can also give online on my donor page.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Steve

…when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving [gave me financial help], except you only.
— Philippians 4:15 (ESV)
Deven Fulton