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Latin America Resource
and Training Center

2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue Report
By Rod and Sherry Boyd

2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama City

Panama City, Panama – March 3-7, 2015. Some would call it a think tank; others a strategy session. We call it the Educational Leaders Dialogue. Every two years the Latin America Resource and Training Center (LARTC) team here in Panama hosts educational leaders from around Spanish-speaking Latin America. We had 39 leaders present from 14 countries that included most of the national Directors of Christian Education, four national superintendents and several of our international educational team.

2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama CityThe meeting was conducted by Rod, with segments being led by Jorge Echazabal and Miguel Morales. This is the first Dialogue of many more to come for Miguel and Maria Morales!The purpose of the Dialogue is to identify areas of need or concern in the ministerial training program in Latin America and advance solutions to these needs. We have developed what we call the Dialogue Method that includes four segments:

  1. Country reports that include statistical information, successes, new programs and areas of need. Each report concludes with adding the most significant need or concern to the list.

  2. Consolidation and selection of themes involves combining similar themes so that all countries continue to be represented. The goal is to identify 4-6 themes.2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama City

  3. Small groups are assigned a theme and are asked to use the reporter questions—what, who, why, how and when—to advance solutions to needs and concerns identified.

  4. Group reports are shared by each small group to the larger group that includes time for question and answer, even modification of specific proposals. This report section transitions to the Ministerial Training Committee meeting that processes all of the individual proposals made by the small groups as well as additional points of business. 2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama City

Truly, the Dialogue is much more about process rather than product. The Dialogue is a small event by design, held during the odd years. For us, it is our opportunity to listen to the hearts of our leaders. It is a first-name basis meeting of equals, with all seated around an “O” shape of tables to maximize eye contact. Our goal is to affirm each person to maximize participation. Everyone has something to contribute.

In contrast, the Summits, most held in the even years, are large events designed to inspire and equip. It is our opportunity to speak to the needs identified in the previous Dialogue. This two-year cycle of “listen and speak” has been used since 2001. 2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama City

The themes chosen this year reflect the complexity of the ministerial training program on our continent and how these programs are directly linked to national and international initiatives. Following is a synopsis of each group’s work:

  1.  Pentecostal in Practice. How do we activate and maintain a focus on our teachers and students being practicing Pentecostals? The group recommended that a survey be developed and conducted throughout Latin America to begin discussion about what a Pentecostal Bible School, class, teacher and student means and practical steps that can be taken to activate and maintain this focus.2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama City

  2. Church Planting. How can our Bible schools produce your workers that are committed to planting churches in conjunction with each country’s church planting goals and initiatives? Practical solutions included developing clear national strategies that include proactive recruitment of young ministers for church planting, implement the recently developed Church Planting specialization (major), and add a practicum to the Church Planting specialization.

  3. Implementing Specializations (Majors). How can we help our Bible schools to activate and implement the different ministry specializations (Pastoral, Youth Ministries, Missions, Christian Education, Children’s Ministries, Church Planting, and University Ministries) in their teaching programs? Suggestions included emphasizing flexibility in implementing specializations that could include special “ministry schools” in specializations, naming and empowering a coordinator for specializations, and allowing students to begin specialization classes early in their Bible school experience.2015 Educational Leaders Dialogue - March 3-7 - Panama City

  4. Bible School Extensions. How can we better extend, support and supervise Bible School Extension schools that are often located in remote areas of a country, reaching indigenous populations? Several specific suggestions were offered.

  5. Identifying Ministerial Competencies. What is the profile of Pentecostal ministerial competencies that are needed today? A profile of competencies was developed in the following areas: spiritual, administrative, social, educational and church. Several steps were identified to heighten awareness, survey current competencies and make changes to the teaching plan for the Bible school level.

Theological Council participantsThe first ever Theological Council was conducted as a second event immediately following the Dialogue. About two-thirds of the Dialogue participants stayed over to participate in this meeting led by Jon Dahlager, President of the Assemblies of God Latin America Theological Association. In addition to certifying Bible school teachers and Bible schools, the theological association also promotes sound doctrine and teaching. Different leaders and educators presented topics related to the general theme 21st Century Latin America Pentecostalism.

The Educational Leaders Dialogue has become an essential element in the overall strategy of the Latin America Resource and Training Center to inspire and enable leaders, equip teachers and workers, and develop needed resources for them.

Why do we invest ourselves in ministerial training?  We are following the 2 Timothy 2:2 model:  "The things you've heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will be faithful to teacher others."  We are training the trainers of the next generation of harvest workers!

Even though we are in the States for itineration ministry through June, we received special permission to travel to Panama to lead this meeting. It was a stressful several days that included itineration ministry the Sundays before and after the Dialogue.  Yet we know we are buoyed by an army of family and friends who faithfully pray for us. Don’t stop!