Who We Are

progressive-pastors-2017 websiteThe purpose of Leading Edge Christian Ministries is to glorify Jesus and further his Kingdom purposes by promoting and facilitating the training and development of  Christian leaders in the Majority World.

Why leadership?  The Church in the Majority World continues to grow at an astounding rate. In 1900, there were an estimated 10 million Christians in Africa. By 2000, there were 360 million. By 2025, that number will rise to over 630 million. The Church in parts of Asia is experiencing a similar rate of growth.  In China, some 30,000 come to Christ daily.  Korea and Indonesia have seen an incredible response to the gospel.  In India, 15,000 new believers are baptized every month.  Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Latin America are also experiencing phenomenal growth. With the rapid increase in the number of Majority World Christians and the planting of thousands of new churches, a huge leadership gap has developed. Not only are there too few leaders, but many of those now leading churches are untrained and underdeveloped. According to reliable estimates, less than 10% of ministry leaders in these contexts have had access to formal ministry training processes.  In other words, well over two million emerging and existing Christian leaders in the Majority World have been unable to access the ministry training they need. This has obvious consequences.

Fortunately, many non-formal training institutions offer programs to serve the training needs of these leaders. As wonderful as this is, and as helpful as it may be, these efforts only touch a small percentage of needy church leaders.  In addition, most efforts are not strategically aligned or coordinated. Only a handful are comprehensive, and even fewer are accredited (which is important in some countries).  Furthermore, as we have observed, some training organizations have questionable motives, doctrines, and standards.

In recent years, we sensed God leading us to focus on more strategic approaches to addressing this challenge.  To find out how we develop leaders and work together with other churches, ministries, and organizations to facilitate the emergence and development of Christian leaders, please have a look at Our Priority and Our Projects.

Bert with Don's team

Bert Watson with Don Babin’s leadership team among the Maasai near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya

For years, our passion has been growing leaders for Africa’s growing church – not just any type of leaders, but ‘biblical leaders’ who are like Christ Jesus in character and purpose.  In the years ahead, as we develop our new online platform, our focus will expand to include the equipping of emerging and existing leaders in other parts of the Majority World.

Leadership and leader development are perhaps the greatest needs in the rapidly growing African Church.  The same is true in other parts of the Majority World. With 180,000 new churches being planted each year, the need for trained church leaders has never been greater.  Though we are thrilled with this rapid growth, we recognize that a failure to implement biblical processes of discipleship,  equipping, and leader development is thwarting the maturing of the church and the emergence of new leaders.

Leadership expert Dr. John Maxwell often says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Research indicates that leadership quality profoundly impacts the effectiveness of local churches.

No one ministry or organization will ever be able to address this issue. In light of this world-wide challenge, our desire is to work together with the Holy Spirit and other leaders, churches, ministries, and organizations to initialize, design, and implement processes that facilitate the emergence, development, and multiplication of Christlike, biblical leaders at all levels in the church around the world.

Like the apostle Paul, “We proclaim Him [Jesus], admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete [fully developed] in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Our desire is to see emerging and existing Christian leaders all over the Majority World become spiritually mature, fruitful, Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-enabled servants, shepherds, and stewards in the body of Christ.

The Watson model

The Watson Model of a Transformed Christian Leader provides a ‘developmental target’ for church-based leader development initiatives.

Our priority reflects our God-given purpose and passion.  LECM is committed to the strategic development of Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-enabled leaders in Africa, especially in the context of the local church.

Using the model created by Dr. Bert Watson, LECM works together with other leaders and organizations to facilitate the design and implementation of leader development initiatives and processes that promote the emergence of biblically and spiritually ‘transformed’ leaders who are Christlike in character and purpose.

We seek to develop leaders who are truly consecrated to Christ, biblically grounded, Kingdom focused, and Spirit-enabled. Like Jesus, these leaders must be men and women of character and courage who demonstrate compassion and competence and pursue clear, God-given vision. Since no effective leader operates in a vacuum, these leaders must be connected in community, just like Jesus. In the same way, in order to maximize godly influence in both the Christian and broader communities,  they must be culturally engaged and contextually relevant. As leaders mature and become like the Lord Jesus, they serve as effective ambassadors, representing Christ to the world.

Developing leaders of this nature requires a holistic approach and a transformational model.  Whenever possible, LECM employs a ‘4H’ strategy emphasizing balanced development in heart, head, hands, and habitudes. Inspired by insight from Dr. Malcolm Webber of LeaderSource, and following the example of Jesus and the early church, we also seek to facilitate development through a transformational learning process involving spiritual, instructional, relational, and experiential dynamics. In the design of our developmental processes, we seek to apply proven approaches that result in Spirit-facilitated transformative learning and, thus, authentic transformation in leader’s lives and ministries.

 

Training Expat Church Leaders

Training Expat Church Leaders in South Africa

Leading Edge Christian Ministries is currently committed to the following developmental processes.

  • A joint project with South African Theological Seminary to develop accredited, high quality, Bible-based leader development programs for church-based leaders in Africa.  SATS is a fully accredited, internationally recognized distance learning institution with over 2800 students from more than 65 nations. SATS offers programs from certificate to doctoral level. As part of his commitment, Dr. Bert Watson currently manages and facilitates the SATS course on Biblical Leadership.
  • The development of an innovative, cost-effective online teaching, equipping, and resource center to provide quality training in discipleship, leader development, and biblical doctrine for emerging and existing Christian leaders in the Majority World.
  • The creation and facilitation of leader development  processes for emerging and existing leaders in Africa. In conjunction with other organizations, LECM offers a number of interactive, nonformal ‘short courses’ on various aspects of Christian leadership and leader development.
  • The creation and distribution of leader development resources for emerging leaders around the world. In the near future, LECM will launch a special YouTube channel called Five Minutes which targets leaders whose main access to visual and instructional media is through smartphones. Each session will be accompanied by downloadable personal study and group discussion guides.
  • The mentoring of emerging and existing leaders to enhance their growth and development in Christ.

 

 

 

Dr. Bert Watson

Dr. Bert and Surette Watson

LECM president Bert Watson and his wife Surette

Bert Watson grew up in Houston, Texas in the USA. In 1973, during his first year in university, he received a life-changing visit from Campus Crusade for Christ worker Rusty Wright. That evening, God met with Bert in a powerful way and he committed his life to Christ. In August 1976, God clearly called Bert into ministry. He transferred to Houston Baptist University and soon became involved in student and community outreaches, church discipleship groups, and church-based ministry. It was here that he was fully exposed to the value of discipleship, equipping, mentoring, learning in mission, and leader development in the local church.

Majoring in Christianity and Management, Bert graduated from HBU in 1978 and was ordained into ministry the following year. In 1983, God called him to South Africa to work with young people. He served in various leadership roles with YFC for 10 years, culminating as national Team Director overseeing full-time ministry teams during YFC’s school-based Youth Harvest Project, which saw over 100,000 young people respond to Christ. While serving with YFC, he met and married Surette Olivier, a qualified social worker and YFC volunteer.  With the end of Youth Harvest, the Lord led Bert to return to church-based ministry.

While serving as a pastor and trainer at Maranatha Community Church in Kempton Park,  Bert became increasingly burdened by the leadership crisis in Africa.  He began to devote more and more time to leader development in southern and eastern Africa.

In 2000, Bert founded Leading Edge Christian Ministries to focus on the training and development of emerging Christian leaders in Africa. In addition to designing and facilitating leader development processes, Bert works closely with churches and organizations that have similar values and vision. Over the years, he has been privileged to partner with, contribute to, and/or facilitate training on behalf of movements, programs, and organizations such as Youth for Christ, Walk thru the Bible, Equip (Dr. John Maxwell), Change Agents, Turn the Tide (Dr. Bruce Wilkinson), AFMIN (now EMIT), Institute for Biblical Leadership & Skills Training (Zambia), The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI),  One Challenge, LeaderSource, PHASE, Progressive Pastors Training, Baptist Theological Seminary, South African Theological Seminary, Maranatha Theological Training, Don and Michelle Babin Ministries (among the Maasai), various denominations and churches, and others.

Bert is currently engaged with South African Theological Seminary in the design of an innovative, accredited, church-based leadership program for continent-wide distribution. He also designs and facilitates courses on biblical leadership for the Bachelor of Theology program and engages in the occasional supervision of Masters level students. In addition, he is developing an online equipping process, learning community, and resource website for emerging and existing church leaders in the Majority World.  A strong believer in mentoring, Bert invests heavily in emerging leaders. He also serves as a consultant to other leaders, churches, and ministry organizations. Like the apostle Paul, his desire is to see every believer ‘fully developed’ in Christ (Col. 1:28).

A lifelong learner, Bert holds an MA in global leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary and a PhD in practical theology from South African Theological Seminary. His dissertation focused on the design of transformational leader development processes in the local church.

Bert and Surette have three children and live in Kempton Park, South Africa. They remain actively involved in Maranatha Community Church, where Bert is engaged in mentoring, consulting, and the facilitation of leadership and discipleship courses.

Laura Zawinsky

Laura Zawinsky serves as the administrative coordinator of LECM in Houston, Texas.  She handles the processing of donations, issuing of receipts, and home office bookkeeping.

The LECM Board

LECM board members include Mark Simpson, Hugh James, Bruce Cole, Laura Zawinsky, and Bert Watson.

The Bible

The Bible is God’s written revelation to humankind. Inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit, human authors recorded this revelation. As such, it is without error in the original manuscripts. The Bible is our supreme and final authority in all matters about which it speaks and is correctly understood and applied with the help of the Holy Spirit.

God

There is one and only one God, eternally existing in three persons – revealed to us as Father, Word/Son, and Holy Spirit – equal in deity and glory, harmonious in relationship, united in purpose, but often unique in role and expression.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the only unique Son of God, the eternal Word (Logos) who, motivated by love and sent by the Father, became a human being. Though fully human, he was also fully God! Born of the virgin Mary,  Jesus grew up and lived a sinless human life, demonstrating and proclaiming God’s kingdom, willingly offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross as our substitute, perfectly satisfying God’s justice regarding sin. Validating His claims and demonstrating His victory over sin and death, Jesus physically rose from the dead and ascended to God’s throne, where He now intercedes for us. At the end of this age, He will return visibly to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a person, equal in deity with God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit inspired and directed the human authors of  God’s Word. Today, he is at work in the hearts of humankind to make them aware of their need for Jesus Christ.  The moment people trust in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God enters their lives, causing them to be spiritually “reborn” and sealing them in Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who unites all Christians in the Body of Christ.  He also gives people an understanding of spiritual truth, stimulates growth into Christ-likeness, provides guidance and comfort,  bestows spiritual gifts, and supernaturally empowers for ministry.

Human Beings

Human beings are created in God’s image to know and be like Him. As God’s ultimate handiwork, they have immeasurable value and are desiged to live forever. Sadly, due to rebellion and sin, human nature has been corrupted.  Apart from Jesus Christ,  people are spiritually dead, alienated from God, under divine judgment, and destined for an eternity apart from the God who loves them and wants them to know Him.  However, God’s love for each person is so great that He has freely offered humankind an opportunity to be reconciled through Jesus Christ. Those who accept this offer and humbly receive Jesus Christ as Lord become children of God. They enjoy the privileges of personal relationship with God and working together with Him to fulfill His purposes on the earth.  Humans who belong to Jesus Christ are also destined to rule and reign with Him in the next age!

Salvation

A free gift offered to every person on earth, salvation entails forgiveness of sin and restoration of relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus gave His life on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. Our sin was laid upon Him and through His death, we can be released from the penalty for sin, which is eternal separation from God. By turning from a self-centered, independent life, acknowledging Jesus as Lord,  and trusting in what He has accomplished through His death and resurrection,  human beings have their record of sin completely erased by God and become ‘new creations’! Jesus took our sin, we receive His righteousness!  Those who authentically trust in Jesus Christ enjoy right standing with God and become part of His eternal family with full access to God and the abundant life He promises.

Death, Resurrection, and Judgment

God created humankind to live forever. Death came into the world because of sin. The Bible teaches that the penalty for sin is death – both natural death and eternal separation from God.  However, those who receive Jesus as Lord receive forgiveness and inherit eternal life.   At death, those who have trusted Jesus leave their bodies  and are immediately present in spirit with the Lord.  When Jesus returns, however, they will receive  new eternal bodies which neither age nor die. In contrast, those who have rejected Jesus leave their bodies at death and go to Hades to await resurrection and final judgment. God’s word clearly teaches that there will be a bodily resurrection of both the righteous and unrighteous.  Those who have trusted  Jesus as Lord and Savior will partake in the ‘first’ resurrection and be rewarded according to the faithfulness of their stewardship while on earth.  Those who have rejected Jesus will be resurrected at the end of the age and judged by their works. Sadly, what awaits them is an eternity apart from God in the Lake of Fire, which was created for the devil and demons.

It is not God’s desire that anyone perish, but that all experience a change of heart and mind and put their trust in Jesus Christ.  However, because He is just, God must judge sin. God gives every human being a choice, and He honors the decision of humans who have chosen an eternity apart from God.

The Church

The Church is God’s family, made of people from every tribe, nation, ethnicity, and language group who have committed their lives to Christ. It is not a building or institution. Jesus Himself is the head of the Church,  and the Church is His “body”. Jesus indwells, leads, and empowers His Church through the Holy Spirit. For this reason God’s people are also called the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instituted the Church to represent Him on earth, to fulfill His missional purposes by taking the gospel to the world and making disciples, and to show forth God’s glory.  As Jesus commanded, the Church practices baptism for new Christians and celebrates the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) in remembrance of His death and resurrection and in anticipation of His return.

Origins

Apart from God Himself, all that exists, whether spiritual or material, is His creation.  Even though the process of creation may not be fully understood, God spoke everything into being through Christ for His glory.  Though natural processes are clearly evident in the created order, life, matter, the universe, and all natural laws originate from the Creator God and are under His ultimate authority.  Though perfect in its original state, creation was negatively affected by humankind’s rebellion and sin. At the end of the age, God will destroy the present order and create new heavens and a new earth.