Each year, The Washington Post compiles a list of what is “in” and what is “out.” One thing on their “in” list for this year was the educational seminar. People in all walks of life want to learn; they particularly want to learn how to better themselves in their careers and personal lives.
This brings to light a crisis in our Pentecostal ranks. There is an educational void among our ministers. Many of our pastors and evangelists do not have resources available to help them “study to show themselves approved unto God.”
Now let me make it clear that I don’t think that young men should be forced to attend Bible college to obtain a ministerial license. This would mean the loss of something very valuable in those who cannot attend classes in a formal school setting.
However, it cannot be denied that there is something powerful about a group of students who have come together to study a single subject together. After teaching four years in such a setting, Bible college is something I highly recommend.
But this is not an option for everybody. And therein lies the problem. Very little help has been given the young minister who does not attend Bible school. Often it is difficult to study by oneself on a consistent basis. It’s especially difficult to study a wide range of topics effectively. Yet, the need for study is ever present. A person called to the ministry needs to study until he shows himself approved.
At present, most of our special meetings across the country are of an inspiration nature. Even the old Bible conferences, where students spent a couple of hours studying a particular topic, are today rare. Inspirational and “pep rally” type services are good for worship and fellowship. However, they alone do not properly prepare folks for the ministry.
Just like the seminars The Washington Post praised, we must develop an organized way of getting Apostolic ministers into the meat of the Word of God. Just because a person is called does not mean that he knows the doctrine. Believing Oneness and having a revelation of the mighty God in Christ are two entirely different things.
Many ministerial students believe our doctrine because they believed in the people who told it to them. Ninety-nine percent of them, however, could not show you, from the Bible, why they believe it. As we begin to teach, it may take weeks for their eyes to reflect their understanding.
Likewise, most ministerial candidates are not born leaders. They need to be taught the principles of leadership. A seminar without choir, services or protocol, would provide the ideal setting for learning such principles.
Further, prospective ministers need to be taught to communicate effectively. They need to learn from someone the most common problems in communication, the need for eye contact, the proper use of gestures, etc. They need to realize the value of sermon illustrations and where to place them. I find that young ministers welcome the tricks of the older preacher’s trade.
And let’s face it: Somebody needs to make them aware of the fact that there are few dull subjects — just dull speakers.
All of these topics must be taught; they cannot be preached. Because they cannot be preached, we do not have a lot of instruction of this nature. Consequently, it is up to the older, more experienced ministers to catch the burden of training the new generation of leadership.
Without such training, where will the future evangelist learn about what he can expect on “the field?” Who will tell the young minister that he consecration will give him power, and that acquired knowledge will provide needed materials?
Who will recommend good books to read? Or talk with him about the importance of the young minister’s image and reputation? Who will train him to be an administrator, a baccalaureate speaker, a conductor of funerals, a worship leader? And who will tell him about the importance of variety in a service?
Somebody has to tell them these things. That “somebody” is us. We have to tell the upcoming Pentecostal preachers about the jealousy of associates; about how to accept a church; about how to resign; about how to make proper pastoral visits; and to pay attention to their appearance and personality.
Instructional seminars will never take the place of a worship service. However, worship and preaching services will be better after instruction.
As ministers approach the day when they will no longer be pastoring or evangelizing, they should take a good look at the generation of preachers coming after them. Are they prepared for the task before them? Can they continue the work which we have begun? It’s up to us to make sure they are.
We must pour our message and a portion of our spirit into these younger ministers. And we will do this through education. Only by teaching the next generation can we hope to preserve our Pentecostal heritage.
The challenge before us is clear. We should fill fellowship halls and motel meeting rooms with instructors and eager students. Let us not be guilty of the admonition of Hosea 4:6 — “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”