Thursday, December 7, 2017

Is Seminary Really Necessary Before Assuming Leadership in a Local Church?

D. Min lecture with Dr. MacArthur at TMS
Why Seminary? Is formal bible training really necessary before becoming a Lead Pastor at a local church?  Though there are a select few exceptionally gifted and uniquely committed, self-taught, Preacher-Pastor/theologians... such as the brilliant Spurgeon and D.M. Lloyd-Jones. In general, those called to preach (see 2 Tim 2:15; Titus 1:5f) should receive the highest level of seminary training available to them. Would you undergo surgery from a surgeon who hasn’t been to medical school? Why not?

James Montgomery Boice said if he knew Christ were returning in 4 years he’d instruct young men to spend 3 years in intense pastoral training (seminary) and only then preach!  Too much is at stake and church history has too many examples of well intentioned (unprepared) pastors, teachers, and evangelists who failed the Colossians 1:28-29 mandate because of sloppy exegesis and faulty interpretations. Good communication skill alone is not enough. Clint Archer makes some helpful points in his article posted below.

Here's a snippet of Archer's blog post, "The question of whether seminary is necessary is one that perennially resurfaces among those who sense the urgency of the need to preach and feel compelled to dive right in, but also understand the benefit of thorough training, and want guidance about the balance.

Some noteworthy articles I’ve read recently include, Is Seminary Really Necessary?and People Are Going to Hell. Do I Really Need Seminary Training? and a podcast discussion between Mark Dever and CJ Mahaney on the topic.

A few years ago I posted a three-part miniseries comparing the training and competence of three preachers with varying degrees of seminary degrees, namely Joel Osteen, Charles Spurgeon, and John MacArthur. I’d like to re-run the series in my Monday slot here on the CGate to hopefully provoke more thought and discussion around this important question. Instead of making my case by argument, I’d like to simply present some evidence and then let you, the reader, come to your own verdict.

Let’s start with Exhibit A: Joel Osteen

Any pastor who regularly addresses even a handful of souls from God’s word knows the burden of wanting to be faithful to communicating accurately what God has said to his people. Every preacher feels the weight of Paul’s injunction,

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

This is why seminaries offer four year degrees that cover Greek and Hebrew, Theology and Counseling, Preaching and Pastoral Care. The more training preachers get the better."  Archer's full article can be found here

Post-Script- My top two American seminary recommendations are without reservation, The Master’s Seminary & The Expositor’s Seminary. Thankfully their are now many wonderful international training centers and seminaries today for pastors around the globe.  I also know of many faithful American pastors who have spent many months sharing the fruit of what has been entrusted to them in foreign countries.  Pastors Bob Dow, Joe Flatt, Sal Massa, and a number of faithful (lesser known) ministers have done this for 20+ years.