GProCommission Interview with TOPIC: Increasing the Capacity

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GProCommission Interview with TOPIC: Increasing the Capacity


We all want more pastors to get more and better training. We are all contributing to that effort in some way with the passion, vision and resources God has provided us.

We will never meet the need, though, unless we figure out how to work together more and better.

Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (TOPIC) does just that—helps pastoral training organizations and local churches intentionally collaborate to train pastors more widely and effectively. We interviewed Al Bridges, TOPIC global facilitator, to learn more.

The term “coalition” refers to a goal-driven cooperation between participants who retain their distinctive identities and interests. TOPIC helps interested pastoral trainers, organizations and churches form country coalitions to identify pastoral training needs; evaluate what resources are needed for training, such as curriculum, funding, training and assessment; and develop plans to expand and improve how they equip pastors for service. The overall goal: to accelerate the training of pastors wherever Christ’s Church is growing.


Pastor Bridges has been involved in training pastors for more than 40 years in more than 50 countries. His experience has only made him more passionate to see that every pastor around the world who needs training gets it as soon as possible. He believes the key to that is working together.

Watch our video interview with him, be encouraged, and consider whether TOPIC might be able to help you work more strategically with others in your country to train pastors! A written interview is below. We encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel for future interviews.


Tell us about your background in pastoral training.

I have been involved in pastor training for more than 40 years. I started with Biblical Education by Extension (BEE World), training pastors behind the “Iron Curtain” – Communist-dominated Eastern Europe. We developed an extension ministry in nine different languages serving the churches in most of the countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

What is your role as the new global facilitator of TOPIC?

My new role is easily defined by the title Global Facilitator. My task is to facilitate the development of TOPIC communities or coalitions in countries where the Church is growing. That rapid growth is resulting in a great number of pastors without sufficient training to effectively serve their flocks.


How did the Lord place you there?

After stepping down from being the president of BEE World, in my journey to find out where the Lord would use me next, I was led to consider being the Global Facilitator for TOPIC.

Tell us what TOPIC does. What does it stand for?

TOPIC stands for Trainers of Pastors International Coalition. It has three major goals, which can be found on our website:

TOPIC is an international coalition of pastoral training organizations accelerating pastoral training where the Church is growing by:

  • Equipping the trainers of pastoral leaders,
  • Increasing the effectiveness of trainers of pastoral trainers and
  • Building the capacity of pastoral training organizations.


What do you envision for TOPIC’s future?

There are more than 2.2 million pastors and growing, but only 5 percent have training for pastoral ministry. TOPIC would like to help reduce this number in as many locations as possible. The numbers are staggering and the only way that this will be done is through collaboration between trainers and churches. I would like to see every pastor who desires training to have the opportunity for training.

How could the GProCommission and TOPIC work together?

TOPIC and the GProCommisson are critical partners in the process of developing faster delivery, more pastors, better training, at lower costs. TOPIC’s main contribution to the connections established and curriculums discovered by the GProCommission would be to work with the trainers and training organizations in local situations to see how we can help to extend their training to more and more pastors and at the same time increase their capacity through various alliances and activities for coordinated impact and documentation.


How can TOPIC help the Pastoral Trainers in the GProCommunity?

TOPIC can help them create an environment where they can learn from each other and find ways where serving together will allow them to extend their reach to more and more untrained pastors. We would bring pastoral trainers and pastoral leaders together into a united coalition with their local churches, examining what their training needs are, and then move forward with a plan for how to increase their effectiveness.

At the same time, we are always looking for a pastoral trainer who is well-respected and known by other pastoral trainers to serve as a leader inside nations and regions, who can be the connector and encourager for those pastoral trainers and the liaison between the local church pastors and the pastoral trainers.


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