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Formation of TOPIC

Institutions offering formal training are far too few at present, and new ones cannot be established fast enough. Nor will traditional formal training models keep in step with what the Lord is doing around the world in terms of growing His church. We are only falling further and further behind in the large scope of the need, while pursuing our individual ministries.

TOPIC seeks to answer the question: “After a church is planted, what next?” Simply planting a church without making provision for its health often stunts the growth-life of the congregation. Church growth without church health is biblically inadequate and missionally ineffective. TOPIC aims for healthy, growing churches through the provision of essential ministry training to the ill-equipped pastoral leader.

At the dawn of the Third Millennium, we faced the urgent necessity of equipping two million pastoral leaders! They had responded to God’s call on their lives–they were gifted–but many lack adequate ministerial training. These wonderful servants are pastoring millions of believers in Africa, Asia, the former Soviet Union and Latin America.

Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (TOPIC) was born out of the heightening realization among pastoral trainers that a task of this magnitude cannot and will not be accomplished if we all continue to “do it alone” on an organization-by-organization basis. TOPIC explores possibilities for concerted, cooperative action among pastoral training agencies to significantly resource this great need.

TOPIC’s role is to:

• find and multiply pastoral training opportunities
• network pastoral trainers
• locate training tools and materials
• stimulate training strategies
• and to serve pastoral training organizations ministering where the church is growing rapidly.

TOPIC does not compete with pastoral training organizations. Instead, the Coalition believes that the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, honors ministries intentionally and invisibly working together with clear and common biblical purpose toward a common task.

In December 1997, leaders from 99 Western-based Christian organizations involved in the non-formal training of pastors worldwide, gathered in Wheaton, Illinois for the first-ever TOPIC Consultation. The meeting was called by RREACH International (Ramesh Richard Evangelism & Church Helps) and co-hosted by the Billy Graham Institute for Evangelism.

This event may be considered by mission historians as critically decisive in the Church Age, as the focus of missions shifted from Western and indigenous missionaries to the local pastor. Many of the participants were convicted of the “sin of doing one’s own thing.” More would and could be accomplished with an organized, cooperative effort.Twenty-four organizations declared “coalition-level” commitment to the TOPIC vision. Others chose an “affiliate-level” relationship, while yet others wanted to stay in the information loop.

Leaders of 99 Western-based Christian organizations involved in the non-formal training of pastors worldwide gathered for the first-ever Trainers of Pastors International Consultation (TOPIC). The meeting was called by RREACH International and co-hosted by the Billy Graham Institute of Evangelism in December 1997. Many of the participants were convicted of “the sin of doing one’s own thing,” when it was clear that more would and could be accomplished with an organized, cooperative effort. Twenty-four organizations declared “coalition-level” commitment to the TOPIC vision. Others chose an “affiliate-level” status, while yet others wanted to stay in an information loop. Everyone agreed that this should not simply be a “West-to-the-Rest-of-the-world” approach. If large numbers of pastoral leaders were going to be equipped, it would take a truly international, grassroots movement. The transfer of vision took place in March 1999 at the TOPIC Manila Consultation, in the Philippines, also sponsored by

The transfer of vision took place in March 1999 at the TOPIC Manila Consultation, in the Philippines, also sponsored by RREACH International. At that time, 122 participants from 96 organizations representing 50 countries affirmed the vision of TOPIC and launched it as an international coalition with 44 partners and 50 affiliates. On August 2000, the United States of America Internal Revenue Service recognized TOPIC, Inc. as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.

Everyone in the original coalition of ministries agreed that this should not simply be a “West-to-the-Rest-of-the-world” approach. If large numbers of pastoral leaders were going to be equipped, it would take a truly international, grassroots movement.

The transfer of vision took place in March 1999 at the TOPIC Manila Consultation, in the Philippines, also sponsored by RREACH International. At that time, 96 organizations representing 49 countries affirmed the vision of TOPIC and launched it as an international coalition. The enthusiasm with which TOPIC has been launched meant that it had outgrown the resources and abilities of RREACH. It emerged as its own organization, with Rev. J. Paul Landrey (formerly president of Christ for the City International/CFCI), assuming the position of International Director. A global Steering Committee was formed and a Board of Directors, with Dr. Ramesh Richard, serving as its chairman.

As a servant of the Church, TOPIC exists,” says Landrey, “to intentionally accelerate the number and effectiveness of non-traditional pastoral leadership trainers, with the vision of every Church with equipped and maturing pastoral leadership.

TOPIC develops today as more and more agencies catch the vision. Numerous regional consultations take place around the world , including: Western Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, East & Central Africa, the Himalayan Region, IberoAmerica & Caribbean, Brazil, Ecuador and the Philippines
Pastor James Arnold (Denton Bible Church Missions, Denton, TX)
Rev. Ian Benson (The Missionary Training Service, London, UK)
Dr. Flip Buys (Mukhanyo Theological College, KwaMhlanga, South Africa)
Dr. Wilhelm Daiker (Center for International World Missions, Bornheim, Germany)
Mr. Philip Flores (Discipleship Training Institute, Laguna, Philippines)
Dr. Bob Gilliam (T-Net International, Aurora, CO)
Dr. Bobby Gupta (Hindustan Bible Institute, Chennai, India)
Rev. Dr. Dominik Israel (Programme of Pastoral Development, Methodist Church in India, Anand, Gujarat, India)
*Mr. Stephen Kemp (Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL)
Bishop Michael Kyomya (Anglican Church of East Africa, Kampala, Uganda)
*Rev. J. Paul Landrey (TOPIC International Director, Omaha, NE)
*Dr. Dennis Mock (Bible Training Centre for Pastors, Inc. Tucker, GA)
Rev. Célestin Musekura (Africa Leadership & Reconciliation Ministries/ALARM, Dallas, TX)
*Mr. Craig Parro (Leadership Resources International, Palos Heights, IL)
*Mr. Jeff Reed (Center for Church Based Theological Education, Ames, IA)
*Dr. Ramesh Richard (RREACH International, and Dallas Theological Seminary, Plano, TX)
Rev. Gerald Rowlands (Church Planting International, Queensland, Australia)
Dr. Norberto Saracco (Facultad Internacional de EstudiosTeologicos/FIET, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
*Rev. Dale Schlafer (Center for World Revival and Awakening, Eastlake, CO)
*Dr. Henry Tan (LEADWave Inc, San Diego, CA) Rev. Hans Martin Wilhelm (Project Nehemiah Ministries, Norkem Park, South Africa)
Rev. Randall Wittig (Desarrollo Cristiano Internacional, San Jose, Costa Rica)

(* Board of directors)