I spend a lot my time explaining to people exactly what Global Baptist Schools is, and what it is that we do. Frankly, it can be easy to get so caught up in the details that the bigger picture is lost.
In a nutshell, we have developed a three-year, Spanish language Bible Institute. Classes are taught primarily on video and designed to be used within local churches in the US and Latin America. About every 3-4 months the Pastor receives a box of materials, DVDs and instructions. He opens the box, distributes the materials and carefully follows the instructions for each week’s class and assignments.It is our material, but it is his class. We call that class a Study Center and we have dozens of them across the western hemisphere.
In thinking about the concept, it occurs to me that there are three simple words that define and describe our ministry fairly well. Global Baptist Schools is Biblical, Accessible and Sustainable.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things, whatsover I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20
We normally think of the great commission as a mandate to evangelize, and it is. But it is also a command to teach the Word of God. Our mission doesn’t end when someone trusts Christ. In fact, salvation is just the beginning! It is through the power of the word of God that lives are changed and that Christians grow in grace, becoming more like Christ. Knowing the word of God helps believers stand against error and teaches them how to make wise decisions. I can think of nothing that is more explicitly biblical than a class that meets each week for the sole purpose of learning more about the Bible. Additionally, that class meets in a local church, the institution through which God is working in this age. We believe it to be a Biblical pattern for obeying a Biblical mandate.
Not too many days ago I was speaking with a young man who longs to go to Bible College. He lives in the US and is smart enough that any school would be within academic reach for him. But his financial circumstances – and the cost of tuition -make that prospect very difficult. Of course we know that God can provide resources in remarkable ways. Like most penniless college students, I saw God miraculously provide on more than one occasion during my own years in school. Yet, for many, finances are a nearly insurmountable obstacle. In other countries or cultures the problem is compounded by a lack of quality schools.
By offering training in the church, the costs are drastically reduced, there is no need for relocation, transportation or “room and board.” Our study center model makes a Bible education accesible for anyone who is disciplined enough to dedicate the time and effort to study and persist.
Every year, Bible colleges and Bible institutes close their doors. It is expensive to keep the buildings in good repair. It is difficult to compete with newer schools. It is a challenge to find both students and faculty members. Make no mistake, not every GBS study center continues to operate forever, but there is very little probability that those who do cease to operate to so as a result of economic considerations. The only cost to the church is the cost of turning on the lights and powering up a DVD player and television (or projector) for a few hours each week.
The cost to the student is minimal. Our US students pay five dollars each week to help cover the cost of the materials and production. Foreign students also contribute something similarly reasonable, relative to their local economies. Oftentimes, those funds remain in the church and used to cover the cost of duplication of materials or equipment.
Even the cost to GBS is manageable. Many of our materials are produced “in house”. Of course, we have to secure text books, DVDs, pay for shipping, etc. But the digital revolution has greatly reduced our cost in many of those areas over the last several years. While lack of funds may keep us from growing as rapidly as we might like, we have been careful to develop a model that will allow us to honor our commitment to our partner churches and students for a very long time.
We know that GBS is not the only way to study the Bible or to prepare for ministry. There are many fine institutions faithfully teaching the Word to another generation. And we know that ours is not the only way to do it. But that doesn’t lesson our commitment to the approach that we have taken over the last 10 years to train other “faithful men” and women who can in turn reach their communities for Christ and serve as faithful members of their local churches.