“The exposition of your words brings light, It gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130.
Who has not been captivated by the voice of God expounded from the pulpit? Behind such anexposition of the word and the one who expounds, is the work of what we call “escuelitas”, or mini-preaching schools.
Escuelitas, go beyond pedagogy into the realm of theology, asking the question: “How is a true Bible expositor formed?
From its humble beginnings in Colombia in the year 2000, a fellowship of eleven recognized expositors (the first escuelita) began to identify the dynamics of the formation of Bible expositors and the accompanying spirituality they need.
“The Model” is Jesus who interacting with those close to him, (his escuelita) told his stories, pinpointed their relevance and captivated his audiences. Text. Context. A People. Out of this background and these roots, the escuelitas movement has taken shape. On the expository path, groups of between five and seven men and women between 25 and 35 years of age, from different denominations—are guided by a coordinator as they meet eight or ten times a year for three years.
These participants follow the expository route, guided by “The Model” and others, as they enjoy interaction with one another, seeking to identify and learn to expound the multi-faceted voices of God expressed in his word. Surprise! Surprise! Escuelitas founders could never have imagined the current avalanche of requests from churches and denominations nationwide, asking that their pastors participate in this training experience.
As this missionary project moved forward, Escuelitas encountered John Stott’s, Langham Preaching ministry and the two joined forces. Under this umbrella, Escuelitas expanded to 17 countries in Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the ‘Diaspora’ (USA and Canada). Langham Preaching is currently present in eighty countries around the world.
The Langham-Escuelitas preaching schools enjoy beautiful and complex challenges. One is the formation of what in Colombia we call the “semillero” (seedbed) project, where special attention is given to gifted participants who have shown a special grace for preaching. Another challenge is the development of strategic relationships with entities involved in other spheres of missionary influence. One example is Transformational Preaching, Predicacion Transformadora, which takes place every year in Medellín, in alliance with the Bible Seminary of Colombia, convening up to three hundred pastors anxious to update their abilities in preaching the different types of literary genres in the Bible.
We perceive, however, an even greater challenge. Langham-escuelitas, by God´s grace has been able to explore and teach the “how” of expository preaching. The urgency in Latin America now is to explore the “what.” A serious void is crying with out to be filled with content from the genres of prophetic challenge, lament, and hope.
Luis and Patricia, missionary pastors to communities of Chinese origin in Panama, were asked: “What is the greatest contribution of Escuelitas in your lives?” They answered in unison, “We discovered the internal structure of the biblical narratives in their different genres, helping us to preach them in a structured way.” Their example illustrates what an escuelita is: to discover the wonder of God’s Word and keep on celebrating that wonder. Thus, one never “graduates” from Escuelitas.
The prophet Zechariah describes the amazing works of God thus:
“For how great is his goodness,
And how great his beauty.
Wheat will make the young men flourish,
And wine the young women.” (Zc.9:17)
By Jorge Atiencia