Continuing Education For Ministers: A Guide For Ministers And Congregations -- By: Ryan M. McGraw
PRJ 4:1 (January 2012) p. 307
Continuing Education For Ministers:
A Guide For Ministers And Congregations1
The church needs pastors who are godly.1 However, the church needs pastors who are learned as well. Better still, the church needs ministers whose education and piety grow in harmony until the end of their lives. The ministers of the past whom we often admire most are those men who were most diligent and prayerful in their studies.2 In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the southern Presbyterian R. L. Dabney illustrated the need for a thoroughly educated ministry with a useful analogy. A woodsman who is naturally strong in body may chop twice as much wood in a day as another man, even though he has a dull axe. Yet, if he desires to maximize his effectiveness, he will take time that he otherwise would have used to chop more wood in order to sharpen his axe. At the expense of an hour of his time, he will be twice as productive and useful in his labors.3 In a similar manner, ministers of the gospel should pursue warm-hearted personal piety through intense study. For many, continuing education will be a good means to secure this end.
Many churches do not understand why their ministers should continue to pursue education, and ministers can sometimes neglect their churches at the expense of further education. Both of these positions reflect a defective view of ministerial education. This article demonstrates the need for lifelong ministerial education, whether
PRJ 4:1 (January 2012) p. 308
formal or informal. This assertion requires us to consider what is in view, why ministers should grow in their theological education, how they should do so, and how and why congregations should support them in these endeavors.
What Is In View?
Asserting that ministers should pursue continuing education implies a preliminary question: what kind of education? Even though not every ministry must follow the same path, this article is tailored toward driving men and churches to a higher view of formal ministerial education beyond the Master of Divinity level. However, how men and their congregations view continuing education often indicates how they regard the minister’s study in general.4 Study and learning are not the only things that must occupy a minister, but without the continual, prayerful, and devout study of Scripture and the theology of the church, his flock will be subjected to ravenous wolves more easily, his soul will be emaciated, and his entire ministry will suffer. The greatest...
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