Ted Esler noticed a challenge among the missions network he leads: Agencies wanted to require theological training for their missionaries, but asking workers to spend time in physical classrooms was delaying their arrival on the field. When agencies attempted to train missionaries after they arrived on the field, they sometimes lost track of their progress.
Esler, president of Missio Nexus, realized BibleMesh could help his network of some 320 mission organizations and 100 mission-focused churches. A new partnership between BibleMesh and Missio Nexus is making it easier for the mission agencies to give field personnel the training they need without delaying their ministries.
Most Missio Nexus member organizations “are small, and they don’t have the staff or ability to oversee a Bible certificate, even though they want their people to get that kind of training,” Esler said. “So for most mission agencies, BibleMesh and the Missio Nexus certificate is a really great fit.”
Evangelical mission agencies long have desired theological education for their personnel. Beginning in the mid-20th century, Bible institutes across America helped meet that need. But in recent years, Bible institutes have evolved to focus on pastoral training and broader theological education, Esler said, shifting away in many cases from their former missions focus.
That shift left mission leaders wondering if there was a sustainable, cost-effective path to provide trustworthy theological education in the 21st century.
As Esler considered that issue, he noticed two Missio Nexus member organizations—Pioneers and Christar—had developed certificate programs with BibleMesh. He began investigating whether BibleMesh might help other mission agencies as well, and his collaboration with the BibleMesh team led to a January 5 launch of the Missio Nexus Bible Certificate Program.
The program comprises six courses, each with one-on-one academic tutor support through the BibleMesh Institute. Four core courses on theology, Old and New Testament, and Biblical interpretation are supplemented by two electives that mission agencies can utilize to meet the unique needs of their personnel.
Students pay $225 per month for each course rather than paying by the credit hour, which Esler believes will reduce costs and incentivize students to complete their training in a timely manner. Missio Nexus students are provided free access to an ebook library as part of the program and receive a $100 discount on the final course payment in their certificate track.
Esler expects the program’s utility to spur enrollment, with the potential for dozens of agencies to participate.
“Education is rapidly changing,” he said. “So it only makes sense that when it comes to missionary preparation, we look at ways to use new tools” like online courses and electronic libraries.
David Roach is editor of the BibleMesh blog.