Hans Giergere, who heads up the seminary and college efforts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea, is still getting accustomed to life as an administrator. Only a year ago, he was teaching New Testament at the church's seminary in Finchhafen. Now his daily schedule is filled with correspondence, enforcement of policies and raising up a new generation of church leaders.
In April, he visited Chicago to discuss church leadership and other concerns with Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of ELCA Global Mission, and others.
Giergere said there's a deep need in Papua New Guinea for seminary faculty with graduate degrees. "In almost all of our faculties, aside from expatriate teachers, we have lecturers with [an undergraduate degree] teaching [undergraduate] students," he said. "It's not a match."
Malpica Padilla gave him hope that the ELCA will work with the Giergere's church to build leadership and educational resources. "We're very interested in helping with faculty development and working with our [ELCA] seminaries so you can have access to [electronic books and resources]," Malpica Padilla said. Reliable Internet access and technology are still a growing edge for the church in Papua New Guinea.
Giergere said there is also a need to revamp the church's evangelism efforts and reach out to youth. "Many people now say, 'I believe. I've been baptized.' And they only come to church when they feel like coming. In the past, we focused on the church building more than on church-building. That happens in the home. That's where we must start."
He knows from experience the importance of home visits and teaching faith in home. "My grandparents, on both sides, were among the first to receive the gospel from the missionaries," he said. "The major issue for the church is still evangelism."
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers