I have written a few posts about my thoughts on pastoring. There are many more things that I could say, but I wanted to touch upon this subject today.
In the modern world, it seems to be a badge of 'honor' that a pastor does not have a seminary education. Many wear this as a indicator that they are uniquely gifted, or exceptionally smart. Some even use this as a way to show that they are able to connect to the common man in the pew. All of these reasons, I find, are nothing more than either ignorance or a false humility, veiling a prideful spirit.
Within some communities within the charismatic groups, and in other denominations, such as Calvary Chapel, there is a 'tradition' to ordain someone who is charismatic, (not necessarily in the 'gifts' area, but in the traditional sense of charisma), but untrained, depending upon their love of the Lord to carry them through as a pastor.
Now, I will admit right up front that I do not have a degree from Seminary, I am working on it, but I believe that this gives me a perspective that is different than writing from the 'Ivory Tower' of academia. I was ordained in a denomination which did what I spoke of above - that is, they ordained good teachers. Sadly, I bought off on the idea at the time, and have since learned the many pitfalls that proceed from this well-meaning, but wrong-headed practice.
In the role of pastor, one faces questions from all sides -- from the questions about aberrant practices within the church, to questions about living together, or homosexual unions which are socially acceptable. And there are many areas in-between, such as "what book would you recommend for one going through depression", or "what do you think of Christian psychology?"
Things like this should not be OJT learning experiences for a pastor, as the life of a parishoner may hang in the balance! Pastors need to not only be trained AND mentored, but they also need to conitnue in their training.
Another example is in the discussion of the Bible. If a pastor has no idea of the methodologies of translation, who is to say which translation is correct, or do we go 'with our gut'? Shouldn't a pastor not only have confidence in the Bible, but be able to explain why?
There are many 'pastors' who will use the Bible as their personal palette upon which to paint their ideas, and when a member of one's church asks why you disagree with someone's teaching, should it not be based upon knowledge and not just "I don't care for his teaching?" And should we not, as pastors be able to offer something more substantial than "Just have a positive outlook" when sitting at the deathbed of a loved one?
And should we not know history enough to be able to spot heresy when it is raised up? If there were more pastors who took their job as shepherd seriously, we would have a lot less craziness from the televangelists circle, and the insipid outgrowth of the CGM, and many more men faithfully shepherding the people that God has given them watch over.
We should love our congregations enough to be constantly growing in knowledge and faithfulness to the Word of God. As I said, I do not have a degree, but am working as hard as I can to get the knowledge. And i would say that if you are a young pastor, or even an older one, and do not have the necessary knowledge to properly pastor, then get it.
And by the way, some of those folks who have gone to seminary and got their degree in Church Growth or some other side discipline, you need to go back and get the Theology side of the house, if you do not have it.
We are called to be pastors, not pop psychologists, not stand-up comics, not motivational speakers, but men who handle the Word of God with due reverence and care and use it to change the lives of our congregations. Trust in God and He will do the work!
“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -