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Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by El_Guero, Jul 4, 2006.
Brethren (Ladies & Gentlemen)
I gotta bust. I gotta let it out.
My primary motivation for seminary training was to learn how to LEAD God's people to tranform the world.
In our discussions in this forum, the threads have often revealed three levels of men in ministry. Professors, seminarians, and pastors.
I just do not have the time as I lead God's people to wait 6 to 10 years for them (men that God brings to salvation through His ministry through me) to get seminary trained and ready for working in His Church.
Ergo, this thread.
Talk about scatter effect. I think we are going around the same circle. The core value that we are discussing is the teaching aspect of the 'Church' (academically speaking - seminaries). We are going around how and why that is so. I have seen it implied that a student (child) should be able to go from 0 to 60 (from being a student in high school to teaching seminary classes (Ph. D.) ) in a matter of 8 years with out experience. For some reason, this process usually takes closer to 12 years.
I have seen those young & inexperienced professors & IMHO, VERY FEW men are able to become the loving and godly example that men need in their professors - I believe that we agree on this, at least in principle. And YES, I have known those young men that GOD forged in the fires of life and have become godly men at a young age. I don't think any of us 'envy' being forged at a young age.
And, I think some of us are beginning to realize that education takes all types of teaching for all types of learners. I am a REALLY hands on person when it comes to learning 'people skills'.
Turn me loose on raw data and I can crunch it all day long (I am a super geek - I have turned down 100+k on more than 5 occasions (3 of those were 150+k). Because, God has called me to be a church planter, and IMHO geekdom just does not communicate well to the center of mass men that God would have me lead, so I adapt*).
My point is (was and will remain) that few of the men in ministry CAN adapt to the rigors of our current seminary education system.
Aren't you as prestigiously educated men (doctors) supposed to find satisfaction in your degrees? Why is it that our education system is designed to provide you and other professorial types with satisfaction and pride, but our 'target population' is not filled with that same satisfaction and pride? Easily, 60% of the men in ministry CANNOT achieve what we are teaching in our seminaries (at the M Div &/or PhD level). Why aren't these men the 'target audience' of seminary training? Our current system MUST exclude the majority of those that minister because they CANNOT do OUR level of academic excellence.
When I was in the Army, I NEVER told a private that he or she COULD NOT become a leader - I found ways to make them become better leaders (& I was thanked by the new leaders, and I was thanked by their soldiers up to eight years later for being the kind of leader men wanted to FOLLOW INTO COMBAT). It is that SACRED TRUST that I bring with me when I look at our seminary education system. We are preparing sooooo few for the battle that is AT HAND - and we continue to forget that the TRIBULATION is very very near. And it will be VERY VERY BAD.
Do we have thousands of men ready to teach Sunday school? Yes. Can they teach the truly difficult theologies? Yes. But, are these theologies changing lives? Are the men in these classes really becoming transformed?
I dare say: NO.
Not when 30% to 40% of our men in ministerial leadership are addicted to online pornography - not just occasional users. But, men that LOOSE the ministry that God has given them, because their wives catch them and threaten to leave them (some women leave). How can they have a God given wife to support them in the battle against the addictive power of sin and still BE LOOSING THE BATTLE, if they are transforming lives?
I dare say that they are not transforming lives.
I have heard, read, & I would expect that most in ministry can testify that more than half of the men that go into ministry: FAIL. Our men and women in Iraq that fail are only about 1 or 2%. How can we say that we have Jesus when a WORLDLY Army is doing so much better? (I suggest that you read Douglas Hyde: Dedication and Leadership for a MUCH better set of examples as to why the Church should succeed with Jesus on our side.)
IMHO based upon my years leading soldiers, most men become transformed by example. A small and very elite cadre of men have been gifted by God to become transformed by His presence and the presence of His Holy Spirit. It is those men that are especially gifted that GOD HAS GIVEN TO THE CHURCH TO EQUIP THOSE that should be serving the Church those that God has NOT blessed. Those whom He has given more, will account for how they have managed this Sacred Trust of His leadership. (Eph 4: 11 & 12).
Brothers, I have applauded and will always applaud those that achieve academic success. But:
Brothers, let us take the knowledge out into the Church and transform the Church into the Bride of Christ. Let us transform our people into people that we can be PROUD to call our followers.
I really do not think the 'current' method of seminary teaching/training is effective. Very few of our seminaries are turning out transformed people. And the students go there EXPECTING to become transformed. And I talk with them and they are broken, rejected, and defeated after the process.
I honestly do NOT want men and women working with God's Church that He will build through His ministry in me that are seminarians. I have met soooooo many that are defeated that I would rather pour my life into 'fresh believers'.
I want to lead successfully. I know that I can only do that as HE leads through me. I, IMHO, believe that this is why so many of our 'good' men do not quit their jobs and go into ministry. They are SUCCESSFUL and they see the lack of success in the ministry.
Over the last 50 years, the WORLD (read that especially the USA) has seen Jesus Christ move from being ranked as the most inspirational man in history to 2d place and to 3rd place and to a place that only God truly knows where the Christ is on the list now. THIS IS THE RESULT of our knowledge based education system NOT KEEPING up with the shift in our culture. Seminaries label 'them' post-modern. I think 'they' are just jaded by the lack of _____ . . . 'They' see that people that practice Christianity just do not do very well. 'They' see our divorce rate. 'They' see our Christian business men laying off employees for a quick buck. 'They' see the successful do not go to Church. IMHO, we have lost the knowledge wars. PEOPLE know that Jesus Christ is not going to magically make you rich, famous, and attractive. Ironically, Douglas Hyde addressed this but he was so far ahead of all of our great knowledge based theologians that he was totally missed. We can only win in the heart - the heart is won by EXAMPLE. The communists got that! We as Christians have lost the edge in this spiritual war, because of that. Satan is winning the hearts of the people.
What do I see at 2 O'Clock in the morning? I see God's pain because not only am I too busy trying to 'learn' how to be transformed, but His people are truly leaderless for what is coming.
THE Church is just not ready for what is coming.
Some churches are led by pastors that get it.
But, most churches are not even close to being ready.
It will be a blood bath.
And in order to assuage our pain, we say that there will be two resurrections. There will be only one BEFORE the carnage begins. But, in our hearts, we KNOW that if God's order is for the Church to go INTO that evil time, we know HE is sovereign and the Church will go. And we know that knowing we are just NOT ready.
We need revival.
One hundred years ago, the business leaders of Portland, Ore. closed every day for a LONG lunch so that people could GO TO CHURCH. Try doing that ANY WHERE IN THE USA TODAY. For two years. No laws enforcing Christianity were taken to the Supreme Court and overturned. For two years, men driven by the ALMIGHTY dollar submitted to the truly Almighty.
We need that badly.
IMHO, our seminaries are 50 to 100 years behind the times. 26 year old men just will not spend 8 years in higher education and get what it takes to make the changes. IMHO. Only the breath of the Holy Spirit spreading through the figurative sails of the Church can lead us to the safe water before the coming storm.
Yet you cannot figure out how to say all you have to say in one clear and concise post? :thumbs: :laugh: :tongue3:
It seems to me that you contradict yourself through this post. You state how flawed the seminary system is, yet on the same hand your point is that it is too rigorous? Maybe you can clarify for us what you mean?
No. I don't see anything in Scripture about finding satisfaction in any degree, but rather in a close walk with Christ.
How do you come to this conclusion? Again it seems like a contradiction to what you are saying in other places...
Is it the purpose of our seminaries to "transform"? I have completed a MDiv and am working on a DMin and I did not enter either program expecting a seminary to transform me. But maybe I am different...
Seminary is what each person makes of it. It can be a great experience of growing and learning, but God is the only one who can transform us into anything. I met many people in seminary that had no clue why they were there or what they were going to do, and thus they probably expected seminary to "transform" them into something. IMO that is wrong motivation for going to seminary. You go to seminary because the Lord has transformed your life and you want to grow in that relationship and calling He has placed in your life and you commit to working your tail off in the process. It is not easy, it is not supposed to be easy, and if it ever becomes easy they we have greatly missed the mark!
Let me clarify some . . .
You are right - I never had said I communicated clearly - just that I am a geek.
Rigor does not mean that a program cannot be flawed, IMHO.
I truly think we are in total agreement here.
I was in the top 2% of college bound students (SAT) and in the top 12% of graduate bound students. What I am saying is that most men in ministry do not have the ability to go to a seminary degree.
I do NEED to clarify here: I do not expect seminary to transform. But, I do expect seminarians to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. And I truly did not see seminarians being transformed by the process. If anything, I saw men (& a few women) being worn down by the 'rigor'.
My indictment of the system is that with all of our modern knowledge, IMHO, I do not see our seminaries being any where near as effective as they were a century ago.
Am I communicating clearer?
PS While, I truly think we are in total agreement here. I was referring to how most men find satisfaction in our accomplishments. And it is my belief that finding a sense of accomplishment for a Ph. D. or D. Min. is not inherently bad.
I again do not see how you come to this conclusion. Personally, I do not think it has anything to do with ability, but more to do with some people just refuse for whatever reason to go through the process.
So should seminary not be rigorous?
Seems pretty subjective to me to claim that seminaries are not as effective today as they were 100 years ago?
So you see this as a problem, if it is a problem, what is the answer?
I expect that many men that are just not academically capable are excluded from our present system. For example, a Mexican immigrant that comes to Christ and God calls him to ministry - clearly a lanugage barrier. But, I also have seen many of our colleagues struggle and fail in classes. I am not saying that they could not have tried harder. But, IMHO, some of our modern rigor would have excluded men that did indeed graduate in years past.
And yes, I do believe that some of our problem is that people today do not work as hard as we once did.
A century ago, pastors were respected men in the community. And while my statement is subjective, I do not think that we (men in ministry) are making the positive impact that we were a century ago.
As the leadership training ground, I believe that seminaries should shoulder some of the leadership responsibility. Men still have to 'work' at showing ourselves approved, but seminaries could be leading us in the direction where, we as men, can impact the word around us MUCH better.
I do need to be clear - I believe that our professors are genuinely trying. But, I believe that we are professionally becoming out of touch with the world around us. I know this is subjective to a great degree, and I do not have substantive data to back it up - call it a hunch. An uneducated guess?
I don't see how this relates to seminary?
I think you put too much emphasis on the role of seminary in changing people, instead of people working hard in the process and growing through the 'rigor'. Seminary is a great tool for God to grow people through good times and bad times. Yet it is again, what each person makes of it. If they sit back and wait for the seminary and profs to transform them, they will be waiting a long time...
So now the problem is we are out of touch with the world?
Ok, I guess we shall call it a hunch, one with which I disagree.
Answer . . . some might not like it.
But, when a problem is raised by a leader, the leader has already mulled over possible solutions.
IMHO, a new group of seminaries is need to fill the gap. The reason behind this is at least 3 fold. First, it would be unreasonable to expect most current faculty to be able to transition. Second it is not reasonable to expect all students to fit a 'new' seminary model. Third is most important.
Not breaking with the current system would be the equivalent of taking a business to the internet and keeping the 'brick and motor' appearance. While this is not 'bad', it anchors the system to the 'old'.
I truly believe that the reason a few churches have been EXTREMELY successfully reaching into the current society is that they have changed so that they can contextualize the Gospel to the current society. They have cut the anchor to what is perceived as the 'old' way, and have been able to reach in new and powerful ways.
I believe that a training (seminary if possible) program that focuses upon training and preparing a generation of leaders to address the current society is necessary if we want to reach this society. The training needs to be flexible (or it will become old when the next generation comes in 12 to 16 years & Jesus tarries).
I also believe that the training should base itself around church planting - other forms of evangelism do not reproduce as well today (IMHO). Church planting is not the fix all NAMB and some other strategists see it as. Personally, I think it is as much a band aide as it is a fix. Discipleship must be part of the fix of the problem.
And I might get in trouble for this one, but 'separation' as a Theology needs to be excluded from this program. If someone is separational, then they should be encouraged to join other separated Christians. This program needs to focus on reaching and transforming the lost. I do not mind 'loosing people the back door' to good solid and conservative churches that separate. But, I subjectively feel that that mindset would slow down the reproducibility of the training program.
I am typing fast, so if I need to clarify let me know.
I applaud you for offering a solution. However the problem I see with it is the culture around is constantly changing. So say we adapt a new seminary model to the current culture, but by the time we get it in place the culture has once again changed, what do we do now? I think we would be walking on thin ice to try and conform the seminary model around the culture. Also, cultures around our own USA are so different, which culture do we adapt it to?
I think we are close to agreement, but I am not certain of where you think I am leading.
I have a great respect for what our current system has done. But, I do think that most of our seminaries are out of touch with what is going on in the culture today. I am not saying that they are not trying. They are trying.
The current seminaries will continue to turn out more and more students. At the present growth rates of student attendance, the current seminaries are needed.
But, our churches are mostly in decline. I do not know of a Christian denomination that is not in decline. The greatest impact upon the leadership of our churches today has been our seminaries. Yes, we changed our seminaries back to a better Theology, but, our churches are still failing at unbelievable numbers (80% of our SBC churches are in decline. I forget how many are closing, but it was alot).
I just do not think that our current seminary system can stem the tide by itself. It takes too long to take a man from infancy as a man called of God to maturity as a graduate (and that is only to M Div). I truly respect the sacrifices you have made, but I do not think most pastors would make those sacrifices.
Emergent Church Seminary?
Am I hearing the need for an "emergent church" type seminary?
Please advise and explain more fully!
I see this as a much bigger problem than the seminary model
I apologize to you and my other esteemed colleagues.
I am not trying to bash anyone's degrees. Nor did I attempt to say that. Trust me, had I wanted to say anyone with a doctoral degree was 'a waste of oxygen" I would have been clear.
I apoligize. I need to be clear on that. I do respect the work it takes to write a dissertation. I do respect the work it takes to write a D Min project. (Personally, I think the work needs to be even harder at times. And sometimes it could be easier.)
My thread was not 'directed' at any one in particular. And since I tend to agree with you more often than [not], it could not have been directed at you.
Again I apologize.
Rhet . . .
I am scared that it could be viewed that way. Personally, I hate emergent church. I hate almost any song that stamps baxter could not have wrote.
But, I just look at how few of our churches are successful reaching the lost. I am mostly PROUD of how we are able to DISCIPLE the saved.
But, the church of 40 years ago, with singings and dinner on the grounds, is NOT reaching the lost of today.
Yes, some might call it 'emergent'. I hate that moniker because of the Theology of some of its pastors.
Sorry I misunderstood your reference to SS teaching and an 8 yr PhD as barbing me.
I apologize! Been working this day through a familial difficulty:
I get upset when my nephew's four year old puts her fingers in the cake before it is cut, and helps herself to the mashed potatoes eating out of the large serving spoon! My wife says , "Oh how cute"!! So we argue a bit over just how a child who is only four should act.
Perhaps this IS applicable to the issue of how young should one be expected to do a PhD and/or what we should expect of seminarians. Perhaps I persistently expect too much.
Anyway, I'm sorry for allowing my feathers to get ruffled!
My seminary experience:
I graduated from TEDS in 1986.
I was in the top 10% in the nation when I graduated from high school.
I found seminary to be rather easy.
I wasted time in practical courses that simply don't transfer over to the real world all that well.
Theology courses and thinking about the Bible was where most of my focus should have been. Much of it was.
Languages were not hard for me.
I have noticed that many pastors today that I meet with think that seminary should have focused more on the practical courses and less on theology. They do not want to discuss theology in our clusters! They also state that getting through seminary was hard for them.
Therefore, I realize that I am on one end of the spectrum.
I believe seminary should focus on two years of theology, Bible, and language, and then one year of mentoring under an experienced pastor approved and trained by the seminary, to teach how to minister.
Having grown up in a pastor's home and having been in church through high school, I already knew what was expected of me as a pastor. Practical theology professors were out in left field, IMO. Applying what they taught me only got me in trouble. Applying what I learned growing up, worked!
Therefore, seminary for theology, local church mentoring for practical theology.
Feedback is welcome.