I have been doing some research among pastors and other believers about what is missing in the church’s and ministerial training programs. My findings were not surprising. I will summarize what people told me on both levels: from the pew to the pulpit.
Those “in the pew” said the following:
- Not enough practical teaching. As a pastor, I can agree with that. I have 3 degrees from Bible college and seminary, and I can tell you how pastors are taught. We are taught the technical aspects of delivering a sermon. From that education, many leave seminary to pastor their first church and show off their knowledge. Meanwhile, those in the seats want to know how to live out the Bible. They are not impressed with the pastor’s knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. They want to know how to deal with home-related issues, figuring out the will of God, and other practical, real-life issues.
- The Holy Spirit is left out of the equation. Because I come from a primarily non-Pentecostal setting, most of the people with whom I associated went to the other extreme and avoided teaching and preaching about the Holy Spirit. BALANCE! WE NEED BALANCE! Teach the whole counsel of God, even if it’s uncomfortable.
- There’s not enough love in sermon delivery. Paul said in Ephesians 4 to speak the truth in love. Once again, balance!
- Not enough doctrinal teaching and preaching. Whereas we need practical teaching, people need to understand doctrine also. They need to know who the Holy Spirit is, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Second Coming of Christ, and issues like this. Someone said that they saw a doctrinal statement about 6 months after he gave his life to Christ and had no idea what any of it meant. He is now rooted in the Bible, but no one taught or discipled him in the early days of his faith. Many churches today are very weak in discipleship. People do not know how to think for themselves biblically because they have never been taught or they never exercised the discipline to study for themselves.
Here’s what pastors are saying:
- The primary thing pastors didn’t learn in their seminary training was leadership and how to deal with people. They got into the pastorate and didn’t know how to deal with conflict, organize the church financially, or possess the people skills needed for ministry.
- Emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Many pastors work 50-60 hours per week or more and do not take time to care for their own emotional, spiritual, and physical health. I was very fortunate to receive a Master’s degree in Leadership which taught these principles, but many seminaries do not address this.
- Counseling. Some pastors do not feel adequate enough to counsel people. Pastors more than likely did not get their degree in psychology or counseling. Therefore, many in the church are better off going to a professional counselor. I was also fortunate to have some counseling training in school, but I also know when I am in over my head and need to make a referral.
- Mentoring. One pastor said he wished he had to shadow a pastor for a semester. Some schools do this. I transferred schools before I went through what is called a “practicum”, but I was blessed to work alongside pastors who were very honest about church issues and taught me lessons about ministry, how to perform weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc.
- Evangelism. Some pastors do not feel adequately trained to share the gospel, especially with people of different religious backgrounds. People automatically assume that a pastor is gifted in the area of evangelism. Although I know how to share the gospel and witness to different people and groups, my gift and passion is discipleship. Pastors are each wired differently and must staff the church according to their weaknesses.
If you would like to add anything to this, please comment below. Also, if you would like resources to help you in ANY of these areas, I will be sending out an e-newsletter soon with these resources. Go to my blog page (mdw4Christ.wordpress.com), enter your email address, and subscribe so I can send it out together. This is the best way and would help me out greatly. I am here to help you, so do not hesitate to contact me. My contact info is on my “About” page.