I love a thinking man's faith. My mentor when I was a young, new believer, Carl introduced me to the world of knowledge, biblical knowledge. I suppose it is true to say he empowered me to doubt - believing nothing till it was worth believing.
There is therefore a legitimate role that seminaries have in the evolution of leaders. Of course it is not biblically obligatory to study in this capacity, but to have sometime in an environment of learning does have value. Too many planters and pastors are preaching very lightweight theology, often really only devotional talks that really don't cut it in a world that demands a more profound response to life's questions.
The limp that these schools and the culture surrounding them produces, is that the graduates leave their studies for a world of church hiring - get your resume out there, apply for jobs, get into the ministering marketplace. Oh dear - how culture has dominated the church landscape!
Why is this problematic? Simply put - "Hiring produces hirelings!".Jesus warned against hirelings - those who are committed to their careers more than the church, they love their promotion more than they love the sheep. Changing churches to "greater" ministry opportunities is a curse to the church. We preach the church as a family - that means dads and moms who have kids. These kids are loved and raised up to become adults themselves. But the practice of hiring undermines the very fiber of this family message. The church is a family not a business.
In the same way, the approach the text seems to take us into, is the journey of salvation, discipleship, through faithfulness, to leadership. Families who raise up their own leaders - those who love Jesus, love this bride, love this story and lay down their lives to that end.
Hiring bows at the altar of selfish individualism - I want the best job, at the best church for the best salary, to give me the best stepping stone for the best future. This dear reader is a tragedy. It is one of the main reasons why the church in this great country is stumbling.
Can we pause and be honest? This system has not worked. The turn around of staff has not produced family of community. The local church cannot be called to live 'family' if they are not truly led 'family'. This disastrous way has to change. From hirelings, we need to go back to raising up "sons who become fathers", from hirelings to shepherds who know the sheep, call them by name, lead them with love, laying down their lives for them. Can we be courageous and bold and revisit the bible best? I hope so.