Virtual Theological Education: Cybertraining for Evangelization and Discipleship -- By: Edward A. Buchanan

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 14:2 (Spring 1997)
Article: Virtual Theological Education: Cybertraining for Evangelization and Discipleship
Author: Edward A. Buchanan


Virtual Theological Education:
Cybertraining for Evangelization and Discipleship

Edward A. Buchanan

Professor of Christian Education
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC 27587

Faculty lecture delivered in Binkley Chapel
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC, October 29, 1996

As we approach the twenty-first century, theological education is at a crossroads. Costs of theological education are rising. Funding sources are ending to decline. The task of world evangelization requires a greater number of trained personnel if we are to attain our stated goals of reaching every person with the gospel by the end of this century. Unless the church can furnish greater numbers of thoroughly equipped and trained workers, the hope for reaching the world will only remain as nothing more than an unfulfilled dream. Let me highlight the problem for us in its world context.

The Magnitude of the Problem

According to the World Evangelization Database, the status of the global mission of the church in 1996 indicates the following:1

World population increase from

1.6 billion in 1900
6.1 billion in 2000
1 billion in 2025

Christian population increase from

558 million in 1900-34.4 % of population
2.1 billion in 2000-34.4 % of population
3 billion in 2025-36.9 % of population

“Great Commission” Christians

50 million in 1900

8.5 million in 2000
1.1 billion in 2025

Christian Workers

1 million in 1900
5.1 million in 2000
6.5 million in 2025

Mien or Foreign Missionaries

62 thousand in 1900
420 thousand in 2000
550 thousand in 2025

One observer has said that there are only 83,000 cross-cultural missionaries working in evangelism and church planting.2 This is less than 20% of the total number of foreign missionaries in the world. To accomplish the task, another 300,000 evangelists and church planters are needed. In addition, there are still 11,000 ethnic groups that are among the unreached peoples across the globe. Although 80% of all missionaries are working where the church is established, it is important to note, the percentage of Christians in the United States is decreasing, from 88% in 1980 to 85.7% by the year 2000. Note also that this is occurring while the percentage of Christians in the world is increasing.

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