Monday, March 9, 2015

Everyday People Equipped 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 

The last few years 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 where I received two degrees only lists certain degrees as equipping you to go into full-time ministry and the mission organization that I served with overseas will not allow one to go on the mission field before taking a set amount of seminary classes. To be fair to the seminary I graduated from, 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 may be thinking, "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."

Note, this post is not meant to be against seminary, as I cherish the time I spent in seminary and may go on to the next level eventually. But it is 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. 

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