R. Paul Stevens states :The best structure for equipping every Christian is already in place. It predates the seminary and the weekend seminar and will outlast them both. In the New Testament no other nurturing and equipping is offered than the local church. In the New Testament church as in the ministry of Jesus, people learned in the furnace of life, in a relational, living, working and ministering context.
Without boring you with a ton of details on how training church leaders began and how it evolved over the centuries, let me just say that like most everything else in the church, it became highly steeped in Pagan philosophy, Greek oratory skills, and intellectualism found at Universities. In fact, most universities grew out of cathedral schools. Theology was regarded as the "Queen of the Sciences" in universities.
Even Martin Luther knew what occurred with this type of training when he said. "What else are the universities than places for training youth in Greek glory?"
Today we also have Bible colleges, which are a more recent invention and a cross between a Bible institute and a Christian liberal arts school. There are currently over 400 in the US and Canada.
The question is, is this the right way to train our pastors and leaders? We fill them up with a ton of knowledge and them let them loose to run a church. I'm not saying that knowledge of the world, church history, theology, philosophy and the Scriptures isn't valuable. It is! But does it qualify a person to lead a church? Does it make a man a strong man of God? Does it help him to know God in a deep way spiritually? Does it prepare him to deal with different kinds of conflict, communication issues, counseling, teaching all types of personalities, dealing with drug addictions, adultery, as well as a host of other situations he will have to deal with?
As one pastor so succinctly put it, "I came through the whole system with the best education that evangelicalism had to offer, yet I didn't really receive the training that I needed..... it didn't prepare me to do ministry and be a leader. I began to analyze why I could preach a great sermon... but people in my church were still struggling with self-esteem, beating their spouses, struggling as workaholics, succumbing to their addictions. There lives weren't changing.. . we were taught that if you just give people information, that's enough!"
What are your thoughts?
Taken from Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna