Theological Training? Are You Kidding Me?

Okay, so after the last post, let’s talk a bit about theological training. Now, I know this can be a hot potato with many people because the thinking goes somewhere along these lines,

“God called me to minister not to study”
“Theological study kills the spirit”
“God just looks for volunteers”
“why should we study to minister the Word of God”
“There is no room for professionalism in the church”

and I’m sure this list can go on and on…

So, why theological studies? Are we trying to promote an elitist clergy who alone has access to God and His Word? Does studying about God kill your passion for God? I’m not even sure I would want to defend this, but lets just say that when we want to be a pilot, we study. When we want to be an engineer, we study. When we want to be a school teacher, we study. When we want to be anything in life, we study. Why? Because we believe that in order to excel in any area of vocation we require a certain skill for proper execution and application, yet when it comes to administering the Word of God and ministering to his people, we feel that it doesn’t require us to sharpen our skill for proper execution and application.

Sure, Sure, you don’t need to study to tell people about God, but that is not the point here. Go look around and see how many churches, communities and people’s lives have been destroyed or derailed by people parading around as ministers who are not skilled and qualified for proper ministry. Does that mean that when you have studied you won’t mess up? Of course not, because we still find pilots crashing planes, engineers failing in designs, teachers not cutting the grade (no pun intended), so why do we expect ministers to be any different? Is there a different expectation on ministers? If there is then why lower the standard?


Called to????

After a chat with a buddy on theological training and its outcomes, I had to ask this question. “What should be the outcomes after four years of studying theology?” Many people would respond by saying that it is in the pastorate (church) that all or most students should end up in. Others may say the mission field. The idea that does surface is that often we get the calling confused with that of the office. In other words we confuse function with office. So how should we respond to that?

I do think that we have asked the incorrect questions when it comes to theological studies and its outcomes. Instead of asking where are you called to, we should ask what are your called to? In other words, what is it that God has called you to do? Let’s get a bit closer to home here and use myself as an example. I believe I am called to minister to young people. Now automatically you would assume I will take up a post as a youth pastor at a church. What has typically happened here is that we confuse the calling (a function) with a post (an office). As someone who ministers to youth, that office can exist in more than one expression, namely, as a youth pastor at a local church, as a teacher at a school, as a person at an NGO that has youth as its mandate and that list could go on forever. There are many more examples one can use but I hope it brings the point home?

When we are called to the ministry it primarily means we are called in a capacity to make Jesus known to people. That is the FUNCTION. Our calling is NOT to an OFFICE but that of a function. The function, as mentioned above, is to make known Jesus to the world (by the way that is every believers calling as well). So let’s not get too stressed about where we will end up because the place we end up at will always be negotiable. I do believe that God is bigger than the limitation we place on ourselves and that of our callings. We sometimes wonder that if we do hang out at a place so different from that of traditional ministries we might be missing the mark. That is because we confuse our function with office. Again, I would like to propose that the office (where we minister) is irrelevant, as long as we fulfil our function (that which God has called us to). This office may never meet people’s satisfaction or what they may believe to be a relevant place to minister.

So at the end of the day we should be saying that it doesn’t matter where you end up or what the office looks like that you hold. What does matter is that you fulfill the mandate that has been given to you by God. 

Weekend or Weakend?

So it’s that time of the week when most people wind down. Except when you are in the ministry. For some strange reason the weekend tends to be the busiest time for those involved in ministry. And if you are bi-vocational, it also means you will be sacrificing some rest time as well as family time. So there are two huge sacrifices asked of us.

The results of these sacrifices?

Firstly, there is no time to rest. If anyone has been in ministry you know that preparation doesn’t end when you put the pen down. It continues up until the actual event and often times lingers on beyond the striking of the clock. So one tends to move from a busy week to a busy weekend back into a busy week. No wonder people in ministry are tired!

Secondly, because of the busyness in the week, family time is usually on the weekend but if you followed point one closely you will see that yet again there will not be any or much family time. So in this sense, family time has been sacrificed for ministry time.

Finally, with all this busyness how does one reflect and meditate on personal matters? Because whatever free time you will now have, will be taken to fill up with either family time or rest. So how do we keep refreshed when there is no time for that?

But to add further injury to the above is the confusion and guilt that comes with all of these.

Firstly, if we don’t “DO” ministry then we tend to feel guilty in letting the Lord down when in actual fact we are afraid of letting the church down and what their responses and opinions might be of us.

Secondly, we feel guilty for once again making our family secondary to that of a ministry, which is a misplaced guilt feeling. And although we know it but choose to rationalise it, our families begin resenting our shallow commitment to them and our increased commitment to the church and other people.

Finally, we just start hating our calling and the place we find ourselves in because it all just tends to spiral out of control. We begin experiencing burnout, escapism from the ministry, family break-down and personal devotion with God starts waning.

What’s your weekend/weakend like?