When Covenant, Reformed, and Westminster Don’t Measure Up

The folks at Redeemer do not seem to see the need to cooperate in church planting with existing denominational structures or even with the existing seminaries. Apparently, a special kind of minister is necessary for urban churches.

Philanthropy: You mentioned earlier that another very serious bottleneck is not having enough trained leaders. Could you also envision some kind of philanthropic effort to expand and improve seminary training?

Keller: Seminary scholarships ought to be very appealing to donors, because it’s a relatively small investment with the potential to have very powerful results for decades after. Our big problem today is that ministry in a complex society takes graduate training, yet, unlike law and medicine and business, the prospects of higher salaries to pay off student debt are not there. So, candidates who would love to enroll can’t bear the expense. And the seminaries don’t have wealthy alumni to turn to for support, like other graduate schools.

I have to tell you, churches don’t partner very well with seminaries. Some say to seminaries, “Minister training is your job, not ours,” and wash their hands of any responsibility. Others say, “Today’s seminaries are stupid, they’re terrible, we’ll do it ourselves,” which isn’t a full solution. I could see a donor investing in partnerships where one or two large churches, or a group of smaller churches, partner with a seminary to create excellent, affordable instruction. The seminary would be responsible for the many academic pieces that go into training a minister. And the churches could oversee formulation of better, more practical, more hands-on training.

I was on a call recently with leaders of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and they are talking with their donors about more partnerships with churches. Their idea is that the seminary would send faculty right out to local church organizations to teach classes, maybe instruct over video, teach at night, reach more students. The traditional model is that you have 20 professors on campus and all the students have to live there. That’s great for faculty—no night courses, no weekends, no travel. But it is extraordinarily expensive now to do it that way. And it eliminates candidates who have a day job or a family to support. Distributed instruction would also benefit lay leaders, Sunday School teachers, unconventional ministry candidates, and others.

The irony is that this was the same sort of mindset that fed the formation of Bible schools and colleges.

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4 thoughts on “When Covenant, Reformed, and Westminster Don’t Measure Up

  1. Having met several young Bible college grads, I’m not sure I see the point of them. It seems like they’re a convenient place for homeschooled kids to matriculate and figure things out, though I see many of them graduating no better prepared for the workforce than when they went in. I would hope that our children would’ve learned enough Bible from church and family worship to make Bible college unnecessary.

    VV,
    Do you really see nothing wrong with Keller’s platform-building, his wokeness, his apathy towards his denomination and its procedures, and his attempts to remake the denomination in his model?

    That’s great for faculty—no night courses, no weekends, no travel. But it is extraordinarily expensive now to do it that way. And it eliminates candidates who have a day job or a family to support.

    America has plenty of money, most of it poorly-spent. I refuse to believe that seminaries can’t afford dorms even for men with families. In fact, Westminster West is building a dorm right now in California, of all places.

    Distributed instruction would also benefit lay leaders, Sunday School teachers, unconventional ministry candidates, and others.

    Absurd. There are plenty of places to get extra training in theology remotely, such as books. This is nothing more than an attempt to increase profits and build empire.

    Like

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