Thursday, August 29, 2002


I think I've written somewhere here or elsewhere that 1/2 thru my M.Div I
came to the conclusion that seminary was not preparing me to be a pastor but
to answer Bible questions. That opinion was solidified when in Chapel one
day one of my professors said, "We aren't here to train you to be pastors
but to answer Bible questions." :) I'm not joking!

I finally decided to hang in there and got a great deal out of taking
courses from Larry Crabb and Dan Allender , Advanced Greek studies (my
undergrad degree was in Classical Greek) and getting individual counseling.
I also wanted to finished what I started. I also thought that if I were
ever to change how the church grows her leaders a few letters after my name
would help.

I ended up writing my masters thesis on how the NT church grew leaders
compared with today. But - in sympathy with Landon - I wrote that I wasn't
sounding the death knell of graduate schools of theology. (Interestingly,
my professor wrote in the margin: "If it needs to be said, say it!") The
academic study of Scripture is critical to the church. It's just that - as
I then wrote and still believe - the church expects the seminaries to send
them leaders ready to shepherd and the seminaries expect the church to send
them leaders ready to shepherd and no one is doing the work of growing
shepherds! The crisis of leadership development in the church (and I
believe there is a crisis and am not merely trying to sound a jeremiad) is
more than even that: it is a crisis of discipleship. We've forgotten - to
a large degree - how to have spiritual friendships

Landon, my concern is not primarily over the legitimacy or illegitimacy of
seminaries. It's over evangelicalism's belief that information transfer is
the omnicompetent modality of spiritual formation. I think the church has
the same problem with its overemphasis on Sunday morning. And - **of
course** it's an over-reaction to that imbalance to then depreciate teaching
or theology or knowledge. But I also believe it's a truncation of
spirituality to think that it can occur without the sharing of life with
life. Why in the world do we think we can improve on Jesus' holistic
approach to growing leaders? He *spent time* and served and listened to his
proteges. So should we. Life with life. And, yes, there was instruction
as well.

Recently I had the chance to speak with a group of church elders about
spiritual development. I challenged each of them to think ab how *they*
grew and suggested that when they think of those seasons of growth in their
lives, they didn't think about classes - they thought about names.

Years ago, I think that what I believed was that one type of program should
be set up. Now I think it could be done in the seminary context or in the
church context or in the parachurch context. I even think that the current
anti-church installation rage could even be a context (I think this
countercultural movement has much to teach those of us who still go to
church). In achieving balance the seminary must struggle with the enormous
financial resources it takes to maintain an institution and the automatic
sociocultural barrier that presents to potential leaders. It also must
struggle with balancing academics and service and life and with issues of
scale. The classroom is inadequate by itself. More is needed.

God helping us, in Grace's Learning Community we are striving to grow our
own leaders in a holistic way. We are just at the beginning. But it's a
good beginning. And we have a **a lot** to learn.

I blogged on this some days ago:

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