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Philosophy of Ministry


One of the greatest needs of the Christian community in the Middle East is for godly trained leaders. Simply stated, the Arab church needs men and women who understand what God wants them to be and do, who are biblically trained, and who have the passion and courage to carry out the vision God has given them for the Arabic-speaking world. The Arab Center for Biblical Studies (ACBS) exists to assist the church in the training and equipping of believers for the fulfillment of this vision throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

Biblical Mandates for the Church

The Bible is very clear as to what the church should be doing. The primary goal is to “make disciples.” Consider the following verses:

Matthew 28:19–20

“Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Colossians 1:28–29
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man COMPLETE IN CHRIST. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
2 Timothy 2:2
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, ENTRUST THESE TO FAITHFUL MEN who will be ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO.“
The first verses (Matt 28:19-20) were part of Jesus’ final instructions to the twelve whom He had personally trained. He made clear to them that their main goal was “to make disciples.” The second verses (Col 1:28-29) remind us that in the task of making disciples, our aim is to help every Christian become “complete in Christ,” that is, spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity does not happen overnight, but requires progress over time as one applies biblical truth to his or her life. This implies accountability and careful oversight, with older and more mature believers helping younger ones. Finally, the third verse (2 Tim 2:2) reminds us that our primary efforts should be directed to those who show themselves faithful, and that the ultimate goal is that they, in turn, can teach others also. The latter is a good reminder that multiplication must be a key aspect of our strategy. Without multiplication, we will not see growing and healthy churches.


Partnering with Churches and Ministries to Provide Ongoing Training

The Arab Center for Biblical Studies exists to serve Arabic speaking believers by providing the training that is essential for fulfilling the biblical mandates listed above. Where possible, we do this in partnership with local churches and small groups. Our goal is not to take Christian workers away from the local church, small group, or organized ministry, but to help train and equip them. In this way, students of ACBS can be better prepared for practical outreach ministry. Because ACBS does not have a resident campus that students must come to, students do not leave their community and local Christian involvement in order to pursue a degree. Rather, they remain in their cultural context and continue to minister in their local church environment while they study with ACBS.

As Christians are trained and equipped for practical ministry, they also have a need for ongoing training in order to continue growing and developing. ACBS helps with this need. Qualified students (who have applied and been accepted by ACBS) join with other students to form a small group that is committed to studying through course materials made available by ACBS. This small group is mentored by a certified facilitator who leads them through their studies. This small group could be one that meets locally (face-to-face), or this could be a small group that meets online using a software program provided by ACBS. In the latter case, students could be from different locations, but all would participate and interact online in Arabic. Students in the small group can eventually become certified facilitators themselves, once certain academic requirements have been fulfilled.


Unique Curriculum Materials

In our training, students are not merely handed a book that they are told to go off and read . . . as though reading alone is going to cause them to learn spiritual truths. Instead, we use curriculum materials that have been carefully developed for this type of training in small groups. Each course book has been written for self-study purposes. The student is made to engage with the reading material by the abundant use of carefully constructed questions. These questions check to see that the student comprehends the material read, but also cause him or her to personally think through and apply what has been learned to his or her own life. By this teaching method, the training goes beyond the acquisition of biblical knowledge. Christian character and spiritual maturity are also emphasized, so that the student becomes a role model for other believers around him. Many of the course materials utilized by ACBS have been designed and produced by a Christian ministry that has been working since 1979 to provide the most urgently needed courses for every Christian leader to understand and master. But our curriculum also includes other course materials that have been written for the express purpose of training Christians living in the Middle East and which address relevant issues for Arab Christians. Their translation into Arabic makes them ideally suited for use in the Arab world. As a result of many years of faithful preparation, numerous courses in Arabic have now been developed, so as to provide a balanced curriculum of biblical studies, theological studies, character formation, ministry skills and leadership development.


Advantages in Using the Courses Provided by ACBS

There are many advantages to using the courses provided by the Arab Center for Biblical Studies, including the following:
• Many years of experience and field-testing have gone into the production of these courses, and they have been successfully used in many countries around the world.

• They have been designed for use outside the western world, and are suitable for use in most cultures. [They are not limited to any one culture].

• The courses are biblically “trustworthy,” meaning that they have been written by conservative evangelical Christian scholars who have a high view of Scripture.

• Although these courses are thoroughly evangelical, they are not “denominationally bound,” meaning that they have been designed for a broad audience. Furthermore, they are written with sensitivity, so that more controversial matters are handled tactfully and fairly, allowing the student to come to his own conclusions.

• The courses—by design—were written at a level suitable for a high-school graduate, making them appropriate for use at the bachelor level.

• They were designed to be used in a discussion-style setting (i.e., in a non-lecture approach). Students work ahead of time by completing assignments in a self-study course book, and then meet together as a group in which a certified facilitator leads them in discussion, interacting over what they have been learning.

• These courses were designed to have a balance between learning good “content” and making “application” to one’s life. The important aspects of knowing, being and doing are incorporated into every course.

• These course materials have been carefully translated into Arabic.

• There is great financial benefit. Thousands of dollars have been spent developing these courses and getting them translated into Arabic for use by Arab Christians.

• The students are not only trained with these materials, but they are also trained in how to facilitate them to others. This provides our students with both a methodology and the tools for training others wherever they might desire to minister.


The ACBS Philosophy of Learning

One important distinctive of the curriculum used by ACBS is its philosophy of learning. Rather than relying on the traditional system of lecture by a teacher, our learning style is focused on group interaction. A study group usually consists of approximately 8-16 students. Each student is responsible for working through the assigned lesson in the course book prior to the start of a facilitation session. When the group comes together, there is a person known as the “facilitator” who is responsible for leading the time the group spends together. Rather than lecturing to the group, the facilitator concentrates on leading the group in discussion and interaction of what the students have learned from their study of the course book. Not only is this more stimulating to the student, but the process helps the student learn how he or she can do the same thing later with a group in his or her own ministry. This is an extremely important concept for the sake of multiplication. The following diagram illustrates the concept of a facilitator-led study group:

The Goal of Spiritual Multiplication

The principle from 2 Timothy 2:2 must be kept in mind:

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, ENTRUST THESE TO FAITHFUL MEN who will be ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO.“
The students in an ACBS study group (faithful men and women) are entrusted with biblical truths, so that they will be ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO. This is the principle of spiritual multiplication. Learning is not an end in itself but must be seen as an entrustment by God for the purpose of being able to train others. Hence, the goal is that the students in an ACBS study group will eventually be able to train others (a 2nd Generation Group), whether through their church or small group.

ACBS Learning Objectives: Know, Be, Do

So many times in educational situations, the goal is nothing more than a memorization of information, as though the accumulation of information was a goal in itself. “Changed lives” should be the proper goal of biblical training. Certainly this rests on a foundation of knowing biblical truth. Yet such knowledge must lead to transformation of mind and character (one must “be” the person the Lord wants him/her to be). We are exhorted in Romans 12:1-2,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Finally we are to “do” something. We are to serve the Lord according to the gifts He has given each one of us. Yet every Christian is responsible for making disciples (which is something we “do”). In all the courses we offer, these three important aspects of knowing, being, and doing are emphasized. Application to life is built into each and every course.

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