Stunning survey of seminary graduates now serving in the pastorate.
“A leading seminary recently surveyed its graduates to discover where it might better address any deficencies in its program. The questionaire asked its alumni to identify the one area in which they wish they had received better instruction. After three or four years of intenses study in the original languages, systematic theology, Bible exposition, church history and much more, where did they feel most unprepared?
The result of the survey among these seminary graduates now in the pastorate was surprising, perhaps even shocking. The most repeated answer was: How do I live the Christian life?”
—Steven J. Lawson, Philippians for You, 163.
The Blind Leading the Blind
How do men who don’t know how to live the Christian life themselves, lead the church? Why does South Carolina lead the nation in pastoral suicide (see also)? How is it possible that multiple “celebrity” pastors—evangelicals, men who supposedly are “people of the book”, have nevertheless been caught abusing people in their churches or committing adultery, or embezzeling finances, or committing suicide?
They don’t know the basics of how to live the Christian Life.
They don’t understand how to live, moment by moment in relationship with Jesus.
I do not want to add insult to injury related to very real mental health issues that anyone might struggle with including Christians leaders. But there are some real problems in the church that sometimes appear to be mental that are at their core, theological, specifically, related to the doctrine of peripatology, the doctrine of the Christian Life.
Further, there are some, perhaps many mental health issues that might be arrested before a desperate spiral into depression if men and women knew how to live the Christian life—if our people knew not only what to believe but how to live it out in the crucible of real-life. Unfortunately, based on the seminary survey referenced above, it a case of the blind leading the blind if the church is looking to their pastors for help. In addition and probably as a result, pastoral stress is at an all time high by some accounts.
This is a desperately sad and tragic situation.
And this is why every church needs a process of ministry to ensure that basic knowledge and training in how to live the Christian life is passed on to every believer.
All believers need to know what they believe.
All believers need to know why they believe.
All believers need to know how to apply what they believe in real life.
In my experience, if any of those three things happen in the local church it is by accident rather than intention, by the un-merited grace of God rather than obedience of the people of God to the un-merited grace of God.
Church planters, pastors, elders, deacons, figure out the basics of Christian Life and train your people in how live it. The world is watching and waiting for you to do your job.
If you need help, contact me or search on this blog for articles related to Process of Ministry.