Time to talk about Seminary Training for Pastors

imprrh@gmail.com —  August 15, 2016

This week I posted a simple question on social media. A non-scientific poll, if you will. Here is the question:

Are seminaries preparing future pastors to serve in a post-Christian society?

Yes.

No.

Somewhat.

The responses were very interesting. You can read them here: https://www.facebook.com/roger.hernandez.526/posts/10210309424232504

There are several blog topics in that thread for sure! I decided to make it a three part series:

What schools can do.

What students can you.

What we can all do.

Some of these items I have personally observed. Some are observations and comments from others. I welcome your input and a conversation that is productive, not just a “its all bad” attitude.

Here are some short concepts, questions, ideas:

  1. Seminary repeats some of the same classes, or at least a large segment from a class from undergrad. Why is that? I have good friends that took both classes and the teacher didn’t even change the power point presentations.
  2. The world has changed significantly with the Rise of the Nones, especially in the last 10 years. Is the theological education reflective of that seismic shift in culture? Here’s a comment that resonated in different ways several times:

“Sadly pastors are rarely trained to serve society period. We are trained to serve the church…”

While we did have some that said that seminary training is relevant to the current culture, the comments were mostly that improvement is needed.

  1. Evangelism is alive in a good number of churches, with different models. Are students being exposed to all models? How can we? Here is one way: https://hopetrending.org/ Here is another: http://www.helphopehere.com/
  2. Are we making sure that students have led at least one person to Jesus before graduating. I thought this was a given. It isn’t. I have encountered seminary graduated students who haven’t. How and why does this happen? Instead of hating on the short-term Independent Ministries and the short term schools like AFCOE or ARISE, shouldn’t we instead implement more of the practical elements in traditional denominational theology schools.
  3. I would like to explore the possibility of students spending a year of undergrad as an intern in a church. Not next to the school, but outside the bubble where most theological schools are located. The church must be:

Evangelistic.

Church Planting Friendly.

Healthy.

This will help in three ways:

It helps the students to affirm their calling.

It will expose them to healthy churches, not the ones many are assigned as a young pastor.

It will provide valuable training in the real world.

 

A final word. I have deep friendships with some theological professors that are passionate about the future of the church, our impact in the world and new ways to share Adventism. So I don’t want this series to become a “lets beat up on the teachers” event. Let’s affirm what is working and question was isn’t. Anyone can criticize. What are we doing to improve?

Next week, what the students can do. Get ready, it will be spicy!

imprrh@gmail.com

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6 responses to Time to talk about Seminary Training for Pastors

  1. Dr. Michael A. Smith II, D.D. August 15, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Powerful indeed! Praying that this makes an impact indeed! Keep us posted. Hope some of my comments helped and can be addressed during the continued dialog.

  2. Maria Saltos Mowry August 16, 2016 at 7:42 am

    So the curriculum must change. I remember hearing about one ministerial student that kept getting in trouble because he was too busy getting involved with nearby churches, helping with evangelistic meetings and such, instead of being completely engrossed with seminary. I was a teenager and I couldn’t understand even then what the problem was.

  3. Having each seminary student be a pastoral intern for a year is good in theory, but hard to implement. It is hard enough to get hired after seminary, churches and conferences don’t want to spend he extra money for someone who is only there for a year. Also, what about those seminary students who did not have Religion or Theology in undergrad (a fairly large group now at seminary who are going into ministry as a second career who are unsponsored and giving up all to follow God’s will), who is going to be open to them interning?

    • imprrh@gmail.com August 26, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Point well taken How about undergrad for some? The point is to get them around health. We tried with several students here in southern and it was great!

  4. Very interested in this conversation and am working on providing space on our team for internships/apprenticeships. Did my DMin on how we reach preaching at te seminary and am glad others are thinking about this… While respecting our colleagues teaching there.

    • imprrh@gmail.com August 26, 2016 at 8:41 pm

      This is fantastic Michael. If you can share some knowledge about your thesis id be interested in reading