a puritan's blog

O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs…

A New Model for Seminaries

Inspired and portions taken from Pastor Bob Lepine’s weekly Church newsletter

Years ago, when David Sims was a student at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, he learned a lot about the Old Testament from a professor named Richard Pratt.   

Recently, someone asked Dr. Pratt a provocative question. “If you could change one thing about how seminaries train pastors, what would it be?”     

Dr. Pratt’s answer was equally provocative.  And I think it has something to say to each one of us about how we live our lives as followers of Jesus.     

“After 22 years of teaching in a seminary, I slowly began to realize something. We were not preparing the kinds of leaders that evangelical churches in North America need.”     

“Let’s face it; evangelicalism has seen better days. God is at work in many places and in many ways, but on the whole, the news is not good. Our numbers are dwindling; our theology is unraveling; our zeal for Christ is dissipating.      

“Now more than ever, we need seminaries to give the church leaders who are empowered by the Spirit for radical, sacrificial devotion to Christ and his kingdom. And they’d better do it quickly.     

“I was recently in China, talking with the president of a house church network of more than 1 million people. He asked me for advice on preparing the next generation of pastors. I looked at him and said, “The only thing I know is what you should not do.” He smiled and asked, “What’s that?” My reply surprised him. “You should not do what we have done in the West. The results of that approach have become clear.”     

“The agenda of evangelical seminaries is set primarily by scholars. Professors decide how students will spend their time; they determine students’ priorities; they set the pace. And guess what. Scholars’ agenda seldom match the needs of the church.     

“Can you imagine what kind of soldiers our nation would have if basic training amounted to reading books, listening to lectures, writing papers, and taking exams? We’d have dead soldiers. The first time a bullet wizzed past their heads on the battlefield, they’d panic. The first explosion they saw would send them running.

“So, what is basic training for the military? Recruits learn the information they need to know, but this is a relatively small part of their preparation. Most of basic training is devoted to supervised battle simulation. Recruits are put through harrowing emotional and physical stress. They crawl under live bullet fire. They practice hand to hand combat.

“If I could wave a magic scepter and change seminary today, I’d turn it into a grueling physical and spiritual experience. I’d find ways to reach academic goals more quickly and effectively and then devote most of the curriculum to supervised battle simulation. I’d put students through endless hours of hands-on service to the sick and dying, physically dangerous evangelism, frequent preaching and teaching the Scriptures, and days on end of fasting and prayer.

“Seminary would either make them or break them.

“Do you know what would happen?

 “Very few young men would want to attend.

 “Only those who had been called by God would subject themselves to this kind of seminary. Yet they would be recruits for kingdom service, not mere students. They would be ready for the battle of gospel ministry.”

Dr. Richard Pratt is right on.  In fact, so right on and correct, that we ought to visit these third world countries, study their ways and revamp our Seminaries to their model. 

A recent twitter post by Paul Washer says this, “I will visit a remote village today in order to study church planting activities of our missionaries.  This is a dark place.  Please pray!” 

At one time, America was the leading agent in preparing and sending out missionaries, preachers, pastors, sold-out men of GOD!  And now? – we SUCK!  We are the number one transporter of vermin and filth in all the world espousing democracy as THE savior of the world when internal crumbling belies any integrity.  Internet traffic crosses every country border and through these passage lines comes the sewage of sex, drugs and rock and roll from America. 

In light of this, Seminaries are no  longer relevant.  They are producing doctrinally sound (possibly) but faithfully weak folks.  Doctrine without faith is like humans without backbones…

So, I am asserting that radical reformation is needed in Cemetaries…oops, Seminaries today (Isn’t that cemetary, ‘slip-of-the-tongue’ thing the appropriate cliche?).  I assert that a return to simply studying the Scriptures is necessary; studying the scriptures as if life depended on it.  I also assert that making converts would be the test of passing or failing.  Two things, then that I am asserting: 1) Study God’s word, meditate and make application of it (discuss it in a didactic format) and, 2) Preach and teach to the lost and dying, make every effort to win souls.  This should be the thrust of the Seminary!

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One response to “A New Model for Seminaries

  1. GW August 28, 2010 at 23:46

    Nailed it brother! Our christian culture helps add to the demise of seminary. Churches and parachurch ministries require a minimum of seminary before anyone is considered to be “qualified for ministry”.

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