When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:36-37, ESV).
This picture is just as true for the people of Africa today as it was for the people of Galilee when Jesus walked this earth. It has been estimated that there are half a million preachers in Africa who have no theological training. Those of us who live in Africa are in constant contact with pastors who long for adequate, sound theological training. Besides pastor-teachers, the church must be built up by equipping the saints for works of service.
Sovereign Grace Theological Seminary (SGTS) has a number of distinctives which enable it to make a unique contribution in meeting the needs of pastoral training and theological education in Africa.
- SGTS has a clear doctrinal standpoint. We hold unswervingly to the uniqueness of Christ as God’s full and final revelation and to the Bible as God’s infallible word. We seek to be God-centred in all we do. SGTS stands firmly within the traditions of historic and reformed Christianity, and holds to the Sola 5 Confession, which is in agreement with the well-known 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.
- We recognize the central place of Christian devotion. We acknowledge and take to heart the great reality that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other (Deut 4:39). Thus we seek to cultivate in ourselves and in our students hearts that love him and lives that depend on him for everything.
- SGTS is a ministry of local churches. SGTS is a ministry of a group of Reformed Baptist churches in Lusaka. These churches have many formal and informal links with other churches in southern Africa and beyond.
- SGTS has a strong focus on the local church and on training for pastoral ministry. We place a high premium on the local church. All of our programmes aim to apply their subject matter to the local church and its ministry. Our central focus in ministry training is the work of the local church pastor.
- SGTS uses a multifaceted approach to theological education. Although our programmes can be classified as “distance learning programmes”, they are much more than just correspondence studies. In addition to printed and audio-visual materials, SGTS offers contact sessions for face-to-face interaction amongst students and lecturers. Students have found these sessions to be invaluable. SGTS also seeks to make maximum use of modern communication technology (internet, etc.) in order to make the learning as effective as possible. We also seek to take a personal interest in the development of all our students.
- SGTS seeks to empower local churches in the work of theological education. Rather than taking students out of their communities and local churches to place them in an academic environment, students remain where they are so that they can be involved in ministry and be nurtured by their own church leaders. SGTS provides the specialized academic input which individual pastors and churches would be unable to provide on their own. One of our students has described this approach as “the best of both worlds”.
- Training through SGTS is highly cost-effective. The total cost (fees plus costs to institution) of training through SGTS is in the region of US$ 1,000 per student per year, as opposed to US$ 3,500 or more for residential training. Residential training also involves many hidden and intangible costs, such as relocation, separation from family and local church, and loss of income.
- We maintain the highest academic and educational standards. We require that our faculty members are suitably qualified, both academically and spiritually, and that they remain in touch with the latest develop-ments in the church, as well as in the academic and educational spheres. All our programmes must meet the highest educational and academic stan-dards. We believe that God is establishing his kingdom through the reign of Jesus Christ over all the na-tions. In faith we offer this ministry to God, praying that we may be one of the means which he will use to bring his righteous salvation to the nations of the earth, and especially to Africa.