As ministers, pastors, priests, elders, deacons, Bible study and small group leaders, church leaders or seminarians, we are called to know and grow in Christ first and foremost before we seek to lead others to Him! We must restrain our pride, passions, including anger and judgmentalism. Being gentle is an essential character of a servant of God. If we are in or are going into ministry, it has to be for servitude, not selfish ambition, power, or control. It must never be for prestige or for gratification or to please yourself or someone else; it must, it has to be all about our love to God and love for His people. To be a good moderator and minister, the call must be real; it must reach us deeply and be confirmed by others too. If we are prideful or have personal agendas contrary to God's, we will fail at leading His church, rather leading the people He gives us to love and care for into rebellion and apostasy. When we are gentle, as in kindness, this leads to care and compassion because we are concerned about the same things our Lord is. He calls us to be nurturing to others as He is with us.
Research Conducted between 1998 and 2006:
· Many seminaries in the last decade have changed considerably-for the worst. They seek to conform to secular universities and focus on new and "career scholarship" to the detriment of training students correctly. Most offer little encouragement for growing in the faith, either watering down theology or making it so overly scholarly that it is un-practical, un-touchable, and un-teachable in a local church. Thus, many of today's future pastors and church leaders leave the halls of their academia bankrupt in the faith and head into their churches unwilling or unable to lead others in the faith. Their Christianity is muted and the students tend to embrace shallow "sound bite theology" and worship styles that leave Christ out of the picture or else leave little to no room for their people to grow in the faith. Or, they seek to lecture "seminary-style" sermons that cannot be grasped or understood by their congregation.
· The more thoughtful seminaries, which teach their students good, biblical, and practical theology graduate faith-hardy church leaders who can lead others to the deep precepts of our Lord, and create healthy, well-balanced churches that are strong forces for the Kingdom.
· Most seminary courses are seen as irrelevant to the type of ministry the students, who are in the ministry now, face. They see doctrine as dry and unfulfilling or unrelated to faith and practice when in fact, doctrine is thrilling because it means learning about our Lord and Savior!
· The current ecclesiastical and scholarly climates, and even the good, conservative seminaries are graduating aspiring Christian ministers and leaders who have little faith or practical tools on how to pastor and lead.
· Ministry preparation is lacking in theological education! Graduates leave seminary with little to no application on how to lead and manage a church, council a person in distress, or relate Bible doctrine to the everyday ongoing of their own lives and congregations. Most graduates (85%) feel they cannot teach a Bible study or research and write a well-crafted sermon from what hey were exposed to and learned.
· Most seminary students are finding their theological instructions, books, and curriculum to be pragmatically vacuous and irrelevant to them and/or their congregation's life; for them, seminary is not practical. At the same time they want to learn about theology, church history and doctrine, but they want it to relate to how we are to do church and live for Christ.
· Many recent graduates of seminaries think that to be "successful" in ministry means simply creating a ministry, like in "MySpace" or "Facebook" or to Blog their thoughts. They see the connection to others who think likewise as prime recipients for their time and resources. Thus, the "linking" with other "spiritual seekers" on the Internet is more important than teaching from the pulpit or discipling the people.
· Many recent graduates of seminary think that there is a "double-consciousness" of being a theologian and a Christian disciple, that the two cannot be related. Thus, the result is being unwilling or unknowing of how to build a congregation up in love towards Christ and one another.
· The emphasis in many once good seminaries is so scholarly now, there is disconnect between effectual faith and academic knowledge. Thus, students cannot put together faith and reason or lead themselves or others deeper in real, authentic Christian formation. They graduate without the tools to be pastors and leaders for today's churches.
· What young, would-be ministers and all of us need to realize is that as pastors, we are called to know Christ and His Word, because it is we who bring Christ closer-not the institution or school or the church. If we cannot reconcile faith, theology, and ministry practice, we will fail as pastors and in turn fail as a church! Seminary and its students need to see the serious nature of their role and call, and bridge the gap between faith and theology so we can be partakers and teachers of personal salvation, discipleship, and holiness. If not, we do not belong in leadership or the pastorate, and shame on seminaries for missing the prime point of their existence.
· Seminary and ministry are not to be mutually exclusive; they work well when they are mutually dependent!
Effective leadership is always in flowing Christ first and in all things operate in gentleness; a Fruit of the Spirit, this is the character that will show calmness, personal care, tenderness, and the Love of Christ in meeting the needs of others. It is to be more than just a personality; it is to be who we are from the work of the Sprit within us (Prov. 15:1; Isa. 40:11; 42:2-3; Phil. 4: 5; Matt. 5:5; 11:29; 12:15; Eph. 4:1-2; Col. 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:7). When this occurs, your church will prosper. Pastors and church leaders are being good ministers when they realize they are still human and fallen, and face their own sins and temptations that would cloud them from being true representatives of Christ. Thus, we point others to Him by our actions and deeds.
© 2008, Research from 1998- 2006, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org