Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rethinking Seminaries Part 5

So what is the better way than seminaries?  I think it is the apprenticeship model. 

The whole world used apprenticeships for every kind of vocation for centuries.  You go and stay with a person already in the vocation.  You learn from him, are taught by him, get hands on experience that ends up helping both you and the man already in the job, and then you are ready and you go out on your own.  The same principle is easily applicable to ministry.

One could easily argue that this is the model used in the New Testament.  Jesus had twelve disciples.  They each went out and they appeared to train up men and send them out.  Paul for example always seemed to have men around him.  Timothy, Titus, Luke, and a host of others.  Barnabas could be argued to have been with Mark or maybe he started off around those at Jerusalem like Peter.  Mark would later be with Barnabas.  Mark is usually (according to tradition) with Peter too.  But at the very least we can say the Apprenticeship model fits with Titus 1:5 and 1 Timothy 4:6-16 and other verses.  I do not argue this is the only way, I just think it a better way that what we are doing now.

The basics of this model are people who desire to get into the ministry go to be with a pastor, perhaps even their local pastor, who then apprentices the man.  He takes him under his wing, teaches him, and gives him firsthand experience in the ministry.  And I think there is a big role here for elders in that church as well. 

I can hear people already complaining that this is not academic enough.  But yes, academics would be involved.  It would simply be done on the Cambridge / Oxford system, sometimes known as the Tutorial System.  The pastor would be assign readings, the student would do them on his own, and the duo would discuss.  Oral communication would be at a premium, which is the way an eventual pastorate would be.  Writing could be required to help people organize their thoughts.  I disagree that this would be a lowering of actual knowledge gained.  I simply think this would return pastoral education to a way in which people actually were trained and prepared for the pastorate.

Having ever so briefly outlined the model I recommend, I will in future posts outline some benefits of this model.


Jeremy B said...

I just finished reading "The World Beyond Your Head" by Matthew Crawford. I'm persuaded that the apprenticeship model would go a long way in recovering a lot of vocations.

Lee said...

Sounds like a good book. I may have to check that out.