my wife debbie and I were talking this morning about a situation with a church in the area that we are familiar with. this church recently took on a new pastor. she had attended a special service there because some friends we have were a focal point for a portion of the service, and they had invited her to come. her conclusion afterward was that this pastor is young, in the sense that he is inexperienced. it could be his first pastorate. as we were talking about the situation over breakfast, she pointed out something very significant I think for the ultimate purpose of getting a theological education:
you need depth to go long (in ministry)
the concern was that at this point this young pastor may not have enough depth to last long with this church (it also has much conflict in its history). I realize we are eligible to receive treebeards direction “now don’t be hasty my little hobbits!” but I think its a valid concern. i also know i could get much push back for this because there are tons of pastors in the ministry with little to no formal theological education or who have a basic bible college degree, and they have plenty of depth, and have been in the ministry for a very long time. i think these situations are the exceptions and not the norm. Even so, i also know its true that the average seminarian (i’m going to guess 6-7 out of 10) with a master of divinity leaves the ministry never to return 5 years or less after graduation so I know my case may not be a strong one either. however, i wonder if this is the exception and not the rule.
i also realize that “depth” can be relative. i wonder of those who had the training lacked the depth? i wonder how those with no training developed depth? i do not know and that’s highly subjective.
i want to assert that despite it all the ultimate value of theological education (and I think that is something well beyond the basic bible college degree) is to form in the seminarian, depth. depth of character. depth of integrity. depth of knowledge (which will lead to wisdom, if properly applied). depth of ministry capacity (and or ministerial functioning). and this depth will lead to endurance in the ministry.
getting a theological education is more than having a degree or getting the smarts or having knowledge. its about training for depth in ministry and for depth in life.