Yesterday a blogger who works in a closed country spoke of how seminaries don't prepare future missionaries because it's all academic, whereas the military provides hands-on training to prepare for battle. You can read more about that post here. It's really a good writeup. He asked for ideas on how we can better prepare our future ministers. It got me to thinking about ministry, and while I am not at all a minister, I would like to propose the following two points:
1. Academic Institutions are not built to provide hands-on training, nor should they. When I was considering going back to seminary, the chaplain on my ship made sure I understood one thing: Seminaries are academic institutions, nothing more, nothing less. A student goes there to learn scholarship and strategy, but mostly the former. I am still learning my Christian history, and this may not have always been true, which is understandable, but in our world today, we should not hope that our seminaries could train us on the job.
2. Christianity needs more mentorship to provide this training. When I wanted to start reaching out to men around me on my ship, I met Dave Yumen, a Navigator missionary in San Diego. Dave and I still chat often and meet occasionally. If I hadn't met him, and learned from him, I would not be able to mentor the handful of men I work with now. This is the primary ministry I'm involved in on my ship in fact...just helping some of these younger believers get their bearings and move forward in their faith. I am encouraging them to go through Biblical training, even as I go through the same training, but without this OJT (On the Job Training), they are only half-prepared.
I love the idea of preparing our ministers and missionaries for work in the field. And I agree that something has gone a bit off with our process. Yet I think it would be more beneficial for us to have some older ministers grab a few of us younger ministers by the shirt collars and teach us what's what than to wait on the seminaries, or honestly even our churches, to do so.
If you have an opinion on this topic, I would love to hear it, and please make a stop over at Koffi's House and read the post that got me started on this topic. It's really great.