Is the Church Responsible for Training Pastors?

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In an upcoming edition of Tabletalk, Albert Mohler who serves as President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, will include an article concerning the training of pastors in the local church . This topic is near and dear to my heart because my Doctor of Ministry project dissertation is on training expository preachers in the local church here at Boone’s Creek.

An excerpt:

The role of theological seminaries remains crucial for the education and training of Christian ministers. At its best, the seminary is an intentional gathering of Christian scholars who are dedicated to the preparation of ministers, committed to biblical truth, gifted in modeling and teaching the tasks of ministry, and passionate about the Gospel.

No other educational institution exists to serve the needs of the churches in this way. In that sense, a theological seminary is as crucial to the training of ministers as the medical school is essential to the preparation of physicians.

Nevertheless, count me as one seminary president who believes that the local church is even more important to the education of the pastor. The local church should see theological education as its own responsibility before it partners with a theological seminary for concentrated studies. The seminary can provide a depth and breadth of formal studies — all needed by the minister — but it cannot replace the local church as the context where ministry is learned most directly.

What has frustrated me is the mindset that the pastors’ training belongs exclusively to the seminaries. Yet, both have a part to play. The local church is where the actual ministry and the use of the pastoral gifts must take place. The seminaries are where one may learn the more academic pursuits such as church history, the biblical languages, Old and New Testament surveys, etc. Seminaries open the eyes to other paths and traditions that may benefit students who would have never been acquainted with these issues otherwise.

May God help the local church reclaim her part in the training of pastors.

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2 thoughts on “Is the Church Responsible for Training Pastors?

    mbcpastoringlobe said:
    April 23, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Sadly, I think you are right. In the circles where I run (rural Southwestern US), most churches have abdicated any role whatsoever in the training of pastors. Seminary training (as a whole) might be difficult to conduct in the local church (Anyone want to teach Hebrew?), but there are some things which simply cannot be learned outside the context of the local church. I remember very well the first time I was called to the home of a church member whose spouse had just died. I walked into the bedroom where this man’s deceased spouse was still lying bed awaiting the funeral home. Seminary never prepared me for situations like this. Parsing Greek verbs is absolutely essential… but the mentoring of a godly shepherd who can walk a young man through those defining ministerial moments is irreplaceable.
    On a practical level, what do you think the church should endeavor to do specifically in the preparation of future pastors? I would love to have input so that I can better equip some within my local ministry context.

    Terry said:
    May 14, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I agree that the local church must regain its place in training pastors. I am currently working on my DMIN and that is one of the four points I am seeking to establish in my prospectus.

    I am however having difficulty finding theological ground work to help establish this. My key verse is 2 Timothy 2:1-2. But there must be supporting verses to help firm up this position.

    Any suggestions?

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