Saturday, April 9, 2011

Every Disciple Ordained For Ministry

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 13:4 

This verse has challenged me in my thinking about the equipping of believers to go into ministry. The largest denominations and many individual pastors will immediately tell you that if you want to go into ministry that you need to first go to seminary. In this way seminary has become a prerequisite to be in and do ministry.

Even the seminary I attend only lists certain degrees as equipping you to go into ministry and the mission organization that is partnered with the school will not allow you to go on the mission field before taking a set amount of seminary classes. Now, to be fair to the seminary I attend, there are many professors who would disagree with this, but it is listed and communicated by the school this way.

The problem is that I do not see this in Scripture, rather I see men such as Peter and John who were unschooled and ordinary, spending time with Jesus. I know some of you are thinking about now, "Well we don't have the benefit of spending time with Jesus." I understand that we do not physically have Jesus here with us, but if you are not spending time with Jesus then you do not need to go to seminary or into vocational ministry, one can look around and see plenty of people in ministry that have taken this route to the detriment of the church.

Steve Addison said it this way, "Jesus' model of training assumed that the disciples did not know something until they had learned to obey it...He trained the head, the heart, and the hands of the disciples and expected them to pass on what they learned to others."

As I noted yesterday, these are not meant to be posts against seminary, as I am in seminary. Rather these are meant to challenge the church as a whole in what it means to be equipped for ministry and to break down the distinction between "clergy" and "laity." I would love to hear any personal stories, testimonies, or thoughts in regards to every disciple being equipped for ministry. 


2 comments:

  1. In the church I attend our lead pastor does not support seminary training because of that very scripture. I've heard other pastors call seminary...cemetery...implying that by training students in a specific tradition's interpretation of scripture or the weight they give to a certain area of gifting/ministry, we are actually taking the edge off the power of the spirit...the person is no longer Spirit-driven, but driven by dogma. An interesting irony given the protestant/reformation roots of most of our seminaries. I know others who are just as powerful in the Spirit and they would strongly encourage seminary (as long as it is understood that the ultimate point of reference for all faith and life is Jesus Christ Himself). Let's not forget Paul who was trained in both the Hebrew scriptures and Greek philosophy. From what I have seen, I'm very young in spiritual terms, and as someone who has never been to seminary, I believe that God equips us for the ministry he has for us. That may look different for you or for me. The reality as I see it is that the living Word is always teaching us and will bring things into focus for us to accomplish His purposes. Tom Wright said once..."I'll drink to tradition, but I'll drink to canon first...and to Jesus Christ first of all."

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  2. Justin, I appreciate your insight and had you not told me I would have assumed that you had been to seminary. I have been really challenged in my thinking lately about equipping and training, but at the same time I am a seminary student so I figured that I would use the blog to get some of that out. I personally know pastors on both sides and I am obviously not against seminary, but I am against the "professional" Christian mentality when it comes to those who do ministry.

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