“Depends on how you will use your time and what your agency requires.”
The amount of theological training you should have depends on:
a. How you will use your professional skills.
b. How much time you are likely to have to use your additional theological training.
c. The mission agency under which you will serve. Ask them.
You must have a basic knowledge of what you believe and why, and be able to share the gospel with inquirers.
Above all, your personal spiritual life must include being able to feed on the Word of God without the benefit of lots of Christian fellowship, and perhaps not having a pastor in your immediate locality.
Answer from Cynthia, who served under the United Mission to Nepal.
“It may help to take some theology courses.”
Most churches will not give you enough theology and hermeneutics to suffice. I would suggest taking at least one year of basic courses in theology, hermeneutics, missiology, and the like. In my case, I had wonderful teaching in my home church and a three-year certificate from a non-graduate level course in a seminary.
With that training I taught budding pastors how to preach, wrote the text books for the local Bible Institute, and served as consultant to our Bible translation program.
Answer from Donn, a surgeon who retired from the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism after twenty-six years in Bangladesh.
Editor’s note: Many missionaries and mission agencies recommend programs like the one-year, online Certificate of Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute.
“Look to the Lord of the harvest to lead you in gathering the tools you will need for where he will send you.”
Be sure to study at least a basic foundation like the Perspectives course. Adding other subjects, like church planting and growth, or how to reach cities, will only broaden your understanding of how to be an effective and efficient missionary.
What about your relationship with Jesus? How well do you know the Word? Theologies differ from place to place. We found knowing what God thinks far more important than knowing what theologians of the Western world knew and had debated over the centuries. When we were in Korea, they needed what we did not have: a theology to guide them on ancestral worship. In China, it is forbidden to preach or teach on the second coming of Christ the King. It threatens the communist government. So how do you teach about it without teaching about it?
God bless you in your relationship with him. He will guide you into what line of study you should pursue next. Since he is the Lord, or the boss, of the harvest, doesn’t if follow that he knows where you will be in that harvest field and will lead you now in what tools to gather for your work-pouch for the place he will have you be?
Answer from Char who has been in missions for twenty-four years and served in Guatemala, Canada, Korea, and China.