TENT is a non-profit, umbrella organization that seeks to: raise up and train a new generation of gospel workers in the Western Cape and beyond.
This desire (and our name) springs from Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2v2…
What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
TENT has come into existence out of our reflection on certain core biblical convictions as well as on our contemporary context in South Africa.
TENT’s core commitment arises out of several linked biblical convictions.
- Jesus Christ is powerfully building his kingdom in the world
- … as His people speak and live for Him
- … as they are equipped by His Word and Spirit to do so
- … as His Word is taught by Spirit gifted pastors and teachers
The apostle Paul makes these points poignantly in Ephesians 4v11-14…
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
The foundational gifts Christ gives are people and in particular people who minister God’s Word in one form or another. Their teaching will equip all of Christ’s people for works of service so that the church may grow and mature. If humanly speaking we are failing to raise up these leaders, Jesus’ kingdom work in the world is hindered. It is the responsibility of every generation of Christian teachers to guard the gospel and to pass it on faithfully to the next.
It is further a well-known fact that, in Africa especially, the church has failed to raise up leaders to meet the growing needs. Former principal of George Whitefield College, Dr. David Seccombe, comments:
“Over the past 150 years Africans have come to Christ in numbers unparalleled anywhere and at any time since Jesus issued his great commission. The grace of God continues, bringing with it an urgent need for evangelists, preachers, teachers and church planters – people who will lead Christ’s church and grow his kingdom. Initiatives like TENT are invaluable for training and equipping the next generation of gospel ministers. Training men and women to share the truth of the Bible with the next generation will ensure that African Christians become a blessing to their own continent and the world.”
The failure to raise up and train new leaders is complex, but the following surely contribute. Lack of:
- Emphasis on discovering and developing those with the necessary character and gifts.
- Energy of current pastors and teachers who are too overwhelmed with their own ministry to invest in the next generation.
- Expertise in knowing exactly how to go about this.
While we firmly believe in the importance of tertiary theological education, this cannot be the complete solution. Theological institutions are necessary for deep theological formation and instruction, but tend to contribute little by way of philosophy of ministry or practical ministry skills. This is best caught in the local church, where ministry is modelled and opportunities to minister with feedback are facilitated.
Many evangelical leaders in recent decades have realized that what is lacking is the idea of apprenticeship or internship. For future pastors and teachers, this is an important stepping stone and preparatory ground for theological education and finally church-based ministry. D.A. Carson, a prominent Evangelical leader and New Testament scholar, comments that what our tertiary theological education today needs is:
“Closer integration with an expanding apprenticeship program in our best churches, led by pastors who believe in theological education, but who will also train our M.Div. graduates in relationships, spirituality, consistency, hands-on ministry, street smarts.”
Keep reading about our ministry strategy here.