Pastoral Training

Why Go to Seminary When the Fields Are Already White for Harvest?

By Jacob Elwart

In preparation for representing the seminary at a conference in Iowa, I have been reflecting on the ‘why’ of going to seminary. Why should a future pastor pursue a seminary education? On occasion, I’ll come across a college graduate who suggests that seminary is not for him. When I inquire as to why, he tells me that he has to get into ministry now because people are lost and dying. The implication is that the urgency of seeking after lost souls is more important than slowing down to get a seminary education. It is true that people are lost and dying, and that we should be urgent about pursuing the lost, but skipping seminary in order to rush into ministry would be like performing a surgery without any schooling.

If going into pastoral ministry were like working at a fast food restaurant, we should encourage as many young people as possible to skip seminary to go into ministry. But pastoral ministry is a high calling of God — less like flipping burgers and more like performing surgery. Working at a fast food restaurant requires minimal training and has few serious implications if the training is shortcut. Performing surgery is the opposite.

Patrick Connolly, a neurosurgeon, argues in a 2016 article that becoming a doctor takes such a long time because it helps medical students grow in their skill and ability. He writes,

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Is Pastoral “Desire” a Qualification for Ministry?

Reposted, with permission, from DBTS Blog.

The question of a pastoral “call to ministry,” reminiscent of God’s call of biblical prophets and apostles, has long been a issue with which ordination councils have been concerned. Many operate on the assumption that no one aspiring to the ministry may proceed without such a “call.”

I concede, of course, that God’s Spirit is active in distributing gifts in his church “according to his own will” (Heb 2:4) and “as he determines” (1 Cor 12:11, cf. v. 18). It is for this reason that the Scriptures may state plainly that God has appointed the church’s teachers (1 Cor 12:28) and has sent its laborers into the harvest (Luke 10:2). Indeed, we have reason to believe that God’s providential preparation of his ministerial appointees is extensive and complex (see, in principle, Gal 1:5 and Jer 1:5). Please do not hear me saying anything less than this.

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Are Leaders Born or Made?

From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Spring, 2013). Used by permission.

All of us have witnessed those who seem to be “born leaders.” They appear to be naturally gifted to go in front and forge the way for others. Taking a group of people to a necessary and better destination seems easy for them.

They always seem to do well in leading. Some of us who aspire to lead and for whom things have not come so easily have looked at such people with a little bit of jealousy.

Three approaches to training leaders

Is there any hope for the rest of us? Is it possible for those who are not naturally gifted in leadership to be taught how to be leaders?

The first suggested answer is that not everyone can be a leader. Under this belief, no training would be necessary. All that is needed is for the circumstances to supply a need for the inherent leadership qualities of an individual to blossom. One example might be President Abraham Lincoln, whose great leadership presented itself to history because of the occasion of the American Civil War.

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