Tuesday, April 14, 2009

If qualification was the only determining factor

"You're asking somebody who has invested 25 years of his life in seminary training. What I have learned about pastors of large effective churches who have not gone to seminary is that they are avid readers—insatiable in their appetite for understanding life and the world, culture, and the Bible. And a great number of them have done the equivalent of seminary education by seeking out gifted mentors who have a wealth of resources and provide guided studies. So I think many of these people—the ones that last over the long haul—have the characteristics that I've just described."

The excerpt above is taken from this interview which I found beneficial and to some degree a measure of hope to some extent for those who don't see themselves going to seminary but wanting to get involved in ministry. I have been thinking a lot on these lines lately. Especially in the area of qualification. Not necessarily on the lines of being a pastor but in general. Sometimes the pressure to attain a standard of qualification can be daunting. I have this desire to be a writer but sometimes the 'qualification' bug never seems to lay of it's biting. So I have been surfing the Internet for some guidance of sorts. Some helpful articles scattered here and there but nothing concrete I might add.

What does it take to be a writer, a pastor, a scholar, a something anyway? Reading the article, it did mention that seminary helps in the discipline of thinking in a certain way. I agree with that. Seminaries do help in that manner. My stint in bible college helped me immensely I should say. The methods and constructive way of thinking are like unseen tools that form a structure of thought especially in theological issues and the bible. I'm grateful for the training. I would say that seminary or any sort of training structures us in the formation of discipline of a certain field of knowledge or skill. It would not be the determining element that ensures 'success', but a needed element if you have it.

So then, what if one does not have the needed qualification in a certain field? One has to have desire to pursue. The excerpt that I quoted above states that the successful pastors who have no theological training never stopped reading. They kept that discipline. The continued their quest to learn. the desire to pursue guided by the constant urge to learn are essential. Another thing I liked about the quote above was the mentioning that these pastors having mentors. I would say this is an important element in progress. We need guided wisdom from experienced people helping us to chart our energy of pursuit and progressive desire of learning. I think having a mentor helps us mature, shedding of unnecessary enthusiasm, and in the process seeping in a realistic vision.

So in the end, having the necessary qualification helps (considerably at times) but it is not a determining factor of pursuing what we want to do or are called to do.


CeLiNe said...

'The continued their quest to learn. the desire to pursue guided by the constant urge to learn are essential.'

you kinda nailed something there :)

so, onwards to the next phase huh..

Mason said...

One advantage I would see with university or seminary is that on your own you might read a lot but you also are the one choosing what you read.
When your study is self directed it becomes far too easy to get a few topics of focus and read mostly on that, while missing many other important areas and being unaware of significant theological developments.
I suppose with a good mentor, as you mentioned here, that tendency could be pointed out and avoided. Still, I think it helps to be forced to study more broadly (in topics and in authors) than one might tend to on their own.

Tremonti said...


Yeah i think i somehow did nail something :). I think we have to remember that we never stop learning and it is a continual process that obviously never ends. And like you said it sure is "Onwards to the next phase".

I couldn't agree more. I should say that my time in bible school helped me there in what books to read. I think that is the kind of discipline you don't always learn alone. A mentor will definitely help here. But all in all there are strengths and weaknesses of not going to seminary or being qualified. I do also think there are ways that we can maintain a certain kind of quality in everything though. That's why i think the constant desire to learn is an essential element in development.

Hopeful Theo

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I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations