What’s Missing in Church/Ministerial Training

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. There’s not enough love in sermon delivery. Paul said in Ephesians 4 to speak the truth in love. Once again, balance!
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Identity Crisis

whoami

Recently, I preached two messages in a series called “Identity Crisis”. For many people, their identity is based on how many Facebook friends, Instagram followers, Twitter followers, and Snapchat followers they have. Their identity is somehow degraded when they post an “awesome selfie” that only gets 5 likes or a spiritual post that everyone that “really knows Jesus” should like and it only gets 2 likes. On a professional level, that identity could get lost in how successful we seem in our job. On a social level, our identity could be built upon how booked our social calendar is. All of these things will fade. Our true identity is not based on what we do but on who we truly are.

We are born in a sinful condition. I’m not talking about how we were conceived, although some were conceived in a way that brings shame to their sense of identity. We are all born with a condition that only a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can cure. Only then can we find our true identity – an identity that is in Him (far better than anything we can have without Him).

This morning, I addressed how in Him we are loved children of God, accepted, complete in Him, chosen of Him, and His temple among other things. He chose me. Think about that. I’m not saying this in a way that I am any better than anyone else. He chose you also. The question is, “Have you received it?” Have you chosen to receive His free gift of salvation? The only people who go to hell are the ones who choose to reject the free gift of salvation that comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Jesus has done for me is far greater than words on a blog could express. When I understood my value in Christ, life was much greater. No wonder George Beverly Shea wrote these words: “I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”

Oh, Here She Comes!

If you grew up in my era, the words “She’s a maneater” is coming to mind. The type of person I will address here can also be a “he” (but not a man eater😂). 
This person is quick to brag. You won’t have to ask how great this man or woman is because he/she will tell you within a few minutes of meeting. These people will tell you what they know, who they know, and what they don’t know. They will tell how religious they are and how many generations of preachers they came from. I know you know the type. Some people are attracted to this type. Vanity seems to be the norm of the day while God is searching high and low for some humble people who realize that their talent and whatever they have going for themselves comes from God.

Proverbs 27:2 says it well: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” You and I will ruin our “credibility” by boasting arrogantly about how awesome we are. Let someone else speak on your behalf or let your ability speak for itself.

We can all so easily fall into this trap. Before you find yourself becoming annoyingly cocky, think about what you think of those who brag on themselves. If that doesn’t bother you, the last resort may be something tragic to deflate your ego. Something to think about….

Deer in Headlights: What Do I Do Now That I’m a Graduate?


June 1998…I remember it well. I graduated high school on a Friday night from Portsmouth Christian School. The ceremony was nice, excitement was in the air, and there were parties after graduation. 

Then Saturday came! Reality set in. I had spent the last 12 years of my life with the same people in the same city and the same school, but that was to be no more. All the friends I had may no longer be that close. Everything had changed, and I had no idea how to adapt. In August 1998, I was going to attend Bible college out of state, take a ministry position, and be in a place where I knew no one. And that was only the beginning of a life that is still constantly changing.

Many graduates don’t leave their hometown. They may go to school or get a job in a field which they enjoy and stay planted. Some are naturally adventurous and want to see the world. Whatever the case may be, I would like to offer a few thoughts. (This can be good for parents of graduates too.)

  1. Don’t limit yourself! Be open to anywhere and anything when it comes to career and options. Learn several skills. Be versatile so if one thing falls through, you will have a backup plan. 
  2. Get a degree in something for which there is a demand. If you’re called to ministry, let that be your minor. Major in something that gives you options. And I would definitely recommend a graduate or post-graduate degree, but don’t depend on student loans. Bust your rear end to pay for school before you become a slave to student loan companies.
  3. Work hard so that you have something to show for academically. Average work gets average results. You’re technically already building a résumé, so make it look good.
  4. Connect with the right people. Surround yourself now with successful people. Don’t be a brownnoser, but develop a good relationship with professors and people that have developed a good reputation in your area of interest. Those relationships will pay off. Be real though! Don’t be fake because they will see right through you!
  5. Disconnect from the wrong people! I’m not saying be a snob. I am saying that some people will only pull you down. Unplug! You don’t have time for drama. Love people and be compassionate, but understand that some people are toxic and will only drain your life and potential. They will only stand in your way to being the person God wants you to be. 

To the parents,

  1. Let them go! I know this will kill me when I have to face this. But don’t be the one who hinders them from reaching their potential by guilt-tripping them into staying home or by encouraging them to live out YOUR dream. It’s time to watch them take what you instilled into them and watch them shine.
  2. Don’t enable them! If they screw up, don’t go pulling out your checkbook. People have to learn the hard way. My parents have been wonderful, but they were not financially able to fund my college. I had to fall flat on my face on several occasions, and I am thankful I did not have everything handed to me.

Graduation is an exciting time. Some students look at it as freedom. It’s only the beginning of a higher level of responsibility and many other things. However, the potential of our graduates is high. Combine potential with determination and initiative, and the sky is the limit. Please join me in praying for the class of 2017 – a group of people who have the potential to be positive world changers.