10 Pointers for "Untrained" Preachers

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josh p's picture

Thanks for posting the article. We have attended at two churches where the pastors were not seminary trained. Personally I think it showed. There is a reformed baptist church near us with a pastor who did not go to seminary. I spoke with him for quite a while and I was impressed. He was really candid about the fact that he had limited formal training but he was obviously pretty studious. For me that is really the crux of the issue. I realize there are times when a church might call a man without seminary training but is he pursuing more education? In this internet age anyone can continue their education. As the article suggests a man should be able to take one class a semester at least. If he incorporated it into what he is teaching then he could save a little time.

TylerR's picture

Editor

i think the advent of online and virtual education (an even better option) are great tools and blessings of God for men who want to study for the ministry. I also think it presents a more Biblical model, because a man can remain at his home church under the supervision and mentorship of his actual Pastor, rather than move to (insert college town here) for four years. 

I don't want to segue this into a discussion on online and virtual education; the point is that affordable training is available for the busy Pastor or Pastor-to-be without relocating. There are also unaccredited institutions that are excellent and much more affordable, like Tyndale or Paul Henebury's Telos Biblical Institute.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

I have just about finished my undergrad online but I am planning on moving for seminary. For me there was a huge advantage to being able to continue working a family wage job while taking classes that helped me serve in our church. I would like to extend the discussion to continuing education for men who are already ordained pastors. I think I will start a new thread.
 

Mark_Smith's picture

I don't consider it really that affordable from what I have seen. There is one seminary I was all set to attend online. I started the application and completed it and was accepted. The website said the price was $280/credit hour. Once I was ready to enroll, after a 3 week delay on their part for no reason (it just took that long to get a response from them), the price was then announced to be $380 per credit hour. For me, with 4 kids, a mortgage, and student loans from a stupid physics graduate degree, that is totally out of my price range.

I then turned to one of the unaccredited programs that is often mentioned. I just got half way through a class on the gospel of John, and I can say in all candor that I don't know anything more about the gospel than I did when I started. It is really disappointing.

Joel Tetreau's picture

1. You better make sure in your heart that you are really called into pastoral ministry, otherwise that seminary education of yours will keep you going for about 5 years.......and then you'll quit.

2. You better make sure you and your wife are both ready for the intensity that ministry is (both good and bad). You don't get a pass on trials just because you went to seminary.

3. Hey it's great that you have a degree behind your name. No one will appreciate your education if you don't love God's sheep that He gives you to care for.

4. Remember in most congregations there will be people in the pew that know as much as you do about the Bible, because they have been studying God's Word and walking with the Lord for decades. Don't talk down to them (the Messiah syndrom) - it's unbecoming. Not only should you not be patronisitic but you should be teachable - you will have church members that actually can teach you a variety of things you don't know but you need to know for an increase of effectiveness in ministry.

5. If you allow your seminary education to get to your head, you'll come of as an elitist because you are an elitist.

6. Make sure you love God more than your theology.

7. If you do have some tools and knowledge that Godly laymen around you don't have, Biblical leadership will pass that on so that you work yourself out of many of your jobs.

8. Make sure you depend more on prayer than the knowledge you think you have.

9. Continue to read to keep your mind sharp, but don't brag on how much you read.

10. Understand a degree only means you are more responsible (not nearly respectable) for the knowledge you have.

One more for good measure -

11. if you do happen to have graduate training and you have a passion or even an area where you have become knowledgeable and helpful over many years of faithful ministry - write! That kind of knowledge is helpful to the body of Christ.

Straight Ahead!

From someone who has studied at a few places .........

jt

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Joel Tetreau's picture

forgive the several typos in the last note - I wrote it quickly and had to bolt without looking carefully at spelling, etc........Some of my passion comes with dealing with ministry leaders who struggle with a variety of leadership issues despite having graduated from seminary, grad school, etc.........Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Jonathan Charles's picture

Being humble, knowing that there is more to know than you presently know, is HUGE.  Probably the biggest thing seminary did for me was to teach me how deep and complex and presently beyond me some things were.  I heard one untrained evangelist say that if he had 5 minutes with a Calvinist that he could destroy every argument he had to make.  If Reformed theology was as flimsy as he thought it was, it would not have continued from the time of Calvin to today, but that didn't dawn on him.  This also goes for the untrained pastors who write anti-KJV booklets; they never pause to reflect on the fact that godly people who believe in inspiration and inerrancy have worked on other translations.  If they would, then maybe they would conclude that they need to learn something from them rather than the other way around.  Every step I have taken in furthering my education has been like getting to the top of a mountain seeing that there were yet bigger mountains to climb.    

SuzanneT's picture

Joel, that is EXCELLENT advice!!

My son (TMS-'12) will soon become lead pastor of a 100 year old Congregational church, it will be his first lead "gig" (if you will).  One apprehension of his going-in is the many older (like 60-80's year olds) men/couples he will be "pastoring"..he and my DIL are definitely looking forward to learning from these Godly older folks!

Much of the advice you give I recognize as things he took away from The Masters Seminary. 

Outstanding article..

Straight ahead, indeed! (btw-love that quote!)

 

Joel Tetreau's picture

Sister Suz T,

So a quick follow up. My first senior pastorate I was 27. I had three or four men who were something of an unofficial elder team. These men had served in ministry and/or business leadership in life. Not long after I had taken the leadership role at Mildred Chapel, I told those men I loved old men and I needed them to be my "old men" in life. My father lived in AZ and my grandfather lived in MI. I had no one in MN and so they were it! I explained to them that while I loved the Bible, could preach and teach that I lacked life wisdom of men who had been seasoned.......and assured them I would be doing stupid things and that I desperately needed them to tell me when and how I was doing stupid things. We worked out a deal - if they disagreed with something I was doing - they and I would sit down over coffee and would do all we could do to come up with a consensus agreement we could all live with. That worked well - this was largely the influence of what I now am apart of at IBL (www.iblministry.com). This approach to leadership was what I was mentored to by Dr. Russ Lloyd. It changed my life iin ministry and continues to be a major blessing. BTW - those men never tried to usurp my authority - they were 40 or 50 years older than  me and they loved me and trusted me - I weep as I write this because I did not deserve that kind of trust. Praise God as your son moves into this shepherding adventure. I'm confident God will bless his efforts. Straight Ahead! jt

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

dmyers's picture

This resonates.  My former father-in-law is/was an untrained pastor, essentially self-called.  He got saved at almost age 30 and the pastor and other leaders of the KJVO church he attended persuaded him that a man who got saved at that age ought to be a preacher.  So he left his wife and two young kids to go to Piedmont Bible College but only completed his first year because while he was gone his wife divorced him for desertion.  That didn't stop his church leaders; after he persuaded his ex-wife to reconcile and remarry him, he followed the church's pastor (with his family) to another state to plant a church.  Not long after, the pastor moved on to yet another church, leaving my father-in-law to "pastor" the 2-3 people who constituted the church plant.  His wife then divorced him again.  By the time I visited with his daughter while we were in college, he'd been there several years and the church hadn't grown to speak of.  It was sad.  His only resource materials were The Sword of the Lord, the Scofield Bible, and whatever few texts he had from his one year at Piedmont.  Contrary to the advice in the linked article, he was very proud of his lack of training, very critical of "intellectuals" (i.e., anyone with a college education or more; you can imagine his initial opinion of me as a college student intending to go on to law school), and very blind to what he didn't know.  He's no longer a pastor, but the pride in his lack of formal training remains.

Ron Bean's picture

Untrained pastors often have a tendency to create their own closed communities. The situation with which I'm familiar involves a founding pastor with no theological training who bequeathed his church to a younger man with similar scant training but a mail-in Masters degree from a diploma mill. For more than 50 years the church has isolated itself from everyone else in fundamentalism by creating an atmosphere of distrust of anything outside their own environs. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that Dmyers hits on something very important for lay preachers and trained preachers alike, and which Joel hits on as well.  A lot of people tragically view their calling as an excuse to neglect the family responsibilities they've already assumed, and God and His Word are tragically blasphemed because of this.  Doug Phillips--no stranger to actions that lead men to blaspheme God himself--did an interesting bit once where he (ironically) noted how many people on staff in the Billy Sunday organization did not view it as their calling to lead their own children to Christ.

We make a huge mistake if we act as though those moral requirements for deacons and elders do not matter....

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ann B.'s picture

Okay, so some untrained preachers develop closed communities, fail their families, and  are proud of their lack of education.

I daresay there are a number of trained preachers who develop closed communities, fail their families, and are proud of their education.

In my book, without question, the defining characteristic of a pastor is not his level of education.  The defining characteristics are his level of humility and teachability, and his desire to study and do the work of the ministry to the glory of God.

I'm thinking of an untrained preacher who faithfully served three small rural churches (for awhile at the same time) for 35 years, and after retirement continued to preach and teach whenever the opportunity arose.  His degree was in business, and even that was not attained until somewhat later in life.  He took his responsibility very seriously.  He studied the Bible in depth as well as his library of helps.  For fifteen years he cranked out a chapter-by-chapter Bible study, one chapter a week, which he used in Wednesday night and home meetings.  (His daughter remembers helping him run the mimeograph and getting to choose the color of paper for that week.)  I have great respect for this untrained pastor.  He is my dad. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Ann B. wrote:

In my book, without question, the defining characteristic of a pastor is not his level of education.  The defining characteristics are his level of humility and teachability, and his desire to study and do the work of the ministry to the glory of God.

I'm thinking of an untrained preacher who faithfully served three small rural churches (for awhile at the same time) for 35 years, and after retirement continued to preach and teach whenever the opportunity arose.  His degree was in business, and even that was not attained until somewhat later in life.  He took his responsibility very seriously.  He studied the Bible in depth as well as his library of helps.  For fifteen years he cranked out a chapter-by-chapter Bible study, one chapter a week, which he used in Wednesday night and home meetings.  (His daughter remembers helping him run the mimeograph and getting to choose the color of paper for that week.)  I have great respect for this untrained pastor.  He is my dad. 

Emphasis above mine.

I'm pretty sure your defining characteristics define a man who is NOT proud of his lack of education, but seeks to do something about it.  I can't speak generally, but of the uneducated pastors I have heard, read, or met, your version of the untrained man is the exception, not the rule.  We all probably know of at least some examples of men who do a good job in spite of lack of education (e.g. A.W. Tozer), but I would always avoid those who are actually proud of being in that state, and are therefore not particularly teachable.

Dave Barnhart

SuzanneT's picture

God does what He wills in His church using sinful men to do it. It's not a stretch to surmise some of the most taught and trained in ANY seminary (of course no Sem is excluded) might be wolves (at worst) as much as those who've never had training, and vice-versa.  The hearts of men are that deceitful..the enemy that cunning and, well, motivated.  Who was it who said: "the best of men are men at best"..

Joel, that is a great story of God's will and testimony in your life, thanks for sharing it!  I also appreciate the link, looks to be an excellent resource! duly bookmarked Smile

Ann, a wonderful testimony of a life in ministry through your dad! God is so good to us Smile
I thought the author addressed the 'broad-brush'  at the beginning of the article: 
"There are many, many preachers, in many denominations, in many cultures, that are doing wonderful ministry without ever having had the privilege of formal training."

 
Our own pastor has not been through "seminary" (some training earlier for youth ministry, I believe, but not exactly sure-I should ask him!) but his humility, character, his life, and his passion for expositing scripture, heralding the Gospel and for the congregation on every front (also older/elder seminary men who affirm him) are a wonderful blessing of God to us!

 
Blessings all, have wonderful Resurrection Day!