I’m convinced from Scripture and almost 27 years of pastoral ministry that the local church is the primary training and equipping ground for those aspiring to ministry and for Christians in general.
Now, I found myself in a bit of trouble when I suggested this in the first chapter of my DMin project a few years ago, the seminary professor who served as my advisor took umbrage with this notion. The question asked me was, “So you’re saying seminaries have no role?” As I softened my position in the project, I now ten years removed from when I first wrote that am now even more convinced that the local church takes this primary role of training and equipping.
About a year ago, I established at our church a Shepherding Team. This team had a twofold purpose: (1) to provide a group of men to give me feedback on areas of ministry–men who are into the Word, already teach, and demonstrate a pastoral bent; and (2) men who have some sense of calling to ministry that I could help foster. We meet for two hours once a month (usually the last Tuesday of the month) with this typical agenda:
6:30 pm: Prayer for each other and the flock
6:45 pm: Examining a passage of Scripture dealing with ministry and character
7:30 pm: Evaluating sermons preached/to be preached by members of the Shepherding Team. We not only evaluated the intro, body, and conclusion, but the Christ-centered nature of the sermon, the illustrations, and faithfulness to the text.
8:30 pm: Adjourn
What are some other ways this helps?
- Practically, you can have someone inside your church that knows the people and the culture (and whom the people know and do live with). Trust and support already exist.
- This helps when, in our case, you do not have an associate pastor to always lean on when you’re out. This provided an opportunity to get these faithful men behind the pulpit.
- This encourages your church in seeing one of their own step out in ministry–and may cause them to evaluate their own callings as well. It’s one thing for a ‘trained professional’ to do this, but God is calling those from our churches to do this as well.
This could be construed as a ‘humble brag,’ which is something many of us have perfected to an artform. But God brought them here, God called them, God gives the words, God opens and changes hearts. And God calls us as leaders to shepherd and steward not just money and things but people to help them pursue His call to wherever that may be.
To God be the glory!