Are Seminaries Preparing Prospective Pastors to Preach the Word of God? -- By: Nickolas Kurtaneck

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 06:2 (Fall 1985)
Article: Are Seminaries Preparing Prospective Pastors to Preach the Word of God?
Author: Nickolas Kurtaneck

Are Seminaries Preparing Prospective Pastors
to Preach the Word of God?

Nickolas Kurtaneck

There is an acute crisis for preaching today, due in part to a fragmentizing of Christian ministry into various specialized professions without the integrating input of theological training. Preparation for pulpit ministry should be a high priority in the design of seminary curriculums. Training for such ministry must cultivate a theistic mentality, a correct methodology, and a balanced motivation.

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Are seminaries preparing prospective pastors to preach the Word of God? I believe that valid criticism has been leveled against contemporary preaching. Since theological seminaries are the primary agencies for training ministerial students, they must bear the brunt of this criticism and take steps to correct the problem.

Several preliminary comments are in order. First, my concern is with evangelical seminaries. The evangelical community looks to these schools to provide the education essential for the task of preaching the Word of God (cf. 2 Tim 4:2). It must be insisted, however, that mere academic training cannot guarantee proper preaching of the Word of God. Preaching the Word is more than simply learning the technique of sermon preparation in a homiletics class. While the skill of communication can be taught in class, effective preaching depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Sittler evidently had this in mind when he wrote, “the expectation must not be cherished that, save for the modest and obvious instruction about voice, pace, organization, and such matters, preaching as a lively art of the church can be taught at all…. Disciplines correlative to preaching can be taught, but preaching as an act of witness cannot be taught.”1 Therefore,

evangelical seminaries must offer an academic program that has the potential to cultivate a profound reverence for preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. Such reverence may be cultivated by a curriculum centered around the Bible and Christ.

It is my hope that this essay will stimulate further study on the place of preaching in the evangelical seminary. Areas for research may be in constructive criticism of the pulpit ministry, the priority of the pulpit ministry in the local church setting, and the training for the pulpit ministry.

Criticism of the Pulpit Ministry

Sittler states, “Preaching is in trouble everywhere.”2 He adds, “Of course preaching is in trouble. Whence did we ever man...

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