what a theological college should not do

I am getting towards the closing stages of writing “12 Things Good Preachers Do Well” for IVP.

It has been a lot of fun listening to loads of good preaching in the last few months.  Analysing what good preachers do well is another matter.

My mind is also on the new student intake at Wycliffe Hall.  How do you go about training Pastor/leaders?  It is certainly easier to remind oneself what we should NOT do:

I certainly feel that Seminaries/theological colleges train tend towards two things

– we train scholars better than we train practitioners; and

– we train students to be individualistic and bookish rather that people focused and communally minded.

As I listened to Mark Dever (Senior Pastor of Capitol Baptist Church Washington) I was quite struck by a post by his colleague Greg Gilbert commenting on his method of preparation: he sits in a very public place with his laptop preparing his sermons, liking the buzz and interaction …. Which is rather better than going to a dusty library and not emerging until you consider you have a pristine script?

I’ve sat across Dever’s desk from him many times when he’s preparing his sermons. He doesn’t need quiet. No, strike that—he doesn’t like quiet. He wants people coming in and out of his study all day when he’s working, and on warm days he even sits out in his yard with his laptop so he can talk to people when they walk by. At the end of it all, he has a manuscript that sometimes runs to 12 or 13 pages—not every word he’s going to say, but close. He underlines the first word of every sentence in the manuscript so he can look down easily and find his place.[1]

Richard Pratt also has some excellent comments on The Gospel Coalition  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2010/08/13/tgc-asks-what-one-thing-you-would-change-about-seminary-education/

Please pray for Wycliffe and other theological training institutions as we engage in this great privilege as God has entrusted men and women into our charge.


[1]  http://www.joshharris.com/2008/08/mark_dever.php the website also includes the full text of one of Mark Dever’s sermons.

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