We may have had this discussion around here, but I think it’s time to crack it open again.
One thing about the Southern Convention of Great Commission Baptists is that, from a denominational perspective, we have no education requirements for our ministers. We have no central standard for ordination, and even our statement of faith is optional for those serving in churches. (I know to be NAMB/IMB/Lifeway you have to agree. Not sure about Guidestone.)
This is the reality, and it’s connected to our belief in local church autonomy. After all, the seminaries and boards exist to serve the needs of the churches, not tell the churches what to do or who can serve. Any church in the Great Commission Convention of Southern Baptists can ordain anyone they see fit–but no other church is required to recognize that ordination. Which is something that we see with deacons, but not all that often with ministers.
The end-result of this situation is that we have some highly educated ministers and some lowly educated ministers. We also have a tremendous opportunity for the self-educated minister to develop and serve with excellence. With that in mind, I want to poll the audience and get some opinions.
First, though, a few observations: I do think learning is best accomplished among other people who are learning and under the guidance of those who have gone before. A major regret for me is that I did not go to seminary early in my time in ministry, sit in a traditional classroom for 4 more years after 4 years of Biblical Studies in college, and put another her diploma on the wall.
I am currently trying to put that diploma on the wall via a non-traditional system that is an internet-based, but still accredited, seminary. So I do see and respect the importance of checking that box on the road to respectability. After all,Timothy was circumcised as an adult to be able to minister in certain contexts. (Acts 16:3) I can stand a few vocal shewas and write papers. Although I have found that blogging has not helped my academic writing abilities.
Here, then, are my questions for you to answer in the comments: (note: The Bible is not the answer to any of these. I assume that none of us would help someone into ministry without starting with the Bible and holding onto it all the way through. I know that the most important text on any Christian subject is Scripture, we’re looking at second-best, here.)
Feel free to just pick one or two, and no, I’m not using you to do my homework.
1. Apart from the Bible, which should be a no-brainer, if you could hand a new minister only one book, what book would you give?
2. What is the best book on preaching you would recommend to a new preacher?
3. What is the best book on building disciples you would recommend?
4. What historical preacher (deceased prior to WWII) would you recommend the new minister to learn about and from?
5. What current preacher would you recommend?
6. What is the best personal devotional text you would recommend for keeping the minister’s own sword sharp?
7. In 50 words or less, what is the advice you would give?
8. What blogs or podcasts would you recommend, if any?
9. Would you encourage the minister to build an e-library or a physical one? Why?
10. What overall theology work would you recommend?
11. What would you recommend for learning history? Would you even bother?
12. Ministerial counseling: what books or resources?