This is interesting. My issue is how we identify not only potential preachers/pastors but ‘full-time workers’ also. For instance, as non egalitarians how do we identify women for the pastoral role in the particular context of a place like Niddrie and then ensure they get good training? At the moment we are trying to build a ‘women’s pastoral team’ and ensure ongoing training and development. We are in the early stages but it is a must for our area of work.
All of my ‘workers’ need to be competent in the Word but this is something we offer on the job rather than send them away to some institution. Also, I can train them to a level of competency but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be decent preachers. The assumption here is that Bible College is the answer to all these questions and I have serious doubts about that, particularly for some of my people. I know men who think that because they hold a college degree they are equipped and I know others who have no formal training and yet have gone on to great ministries. In the Niddrie context I would rather ensure the training of potential future leaders is done within the local church context rather than farming them out to an institution for 3 years. Colleges talk about training ‘the whole person’ but in many cases they are chasing after legitimacy from worldly universities and the danger is that the first thing to go is character development at the expense of ‘getting a proper qualification’. There are lot’s of qualified people around — just not too many gifted ones. I think the key is closer links between Bible colleges and churches. There is lot’s of talk about this but in my experience more and more colleges are cutting out ‘local leadership approval’ in the race to fill student places. I am not sure how much of a future Bible colleges will have to play in church planting in deprived areas in the years to come. I much prefer ‘in-house’ training through initiatives like Porterbrook (more on this to come) which are far more flexible and offer a good, foundational basis for full-time ministry, particularly in settings like ours.
I already know where the comments are coming from in response to this 🙂 Fire away.