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.
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.