There really is a missing link! Not the kind espoused by Darwin but rather in how we train others for ministry. In the church we have tended to take the “training” out of “training.” It is rare to find equipping that includes training in our educational institutions or churches. We are great at the academics but slim on the training side of things.
A holistic approach to equipping must include three components:
Or to put it another way,
- Academic learning
- Character development
The one component that is most often neglected in “training” programs is the “Hands.” This seems to be a “missing link.” Intrinsic to the term “training” is the idea that someone will be equipped to do something. The dictionary says that training is: “activity leading to skilled behavior.” By that definition, there appears to be something lacking in many seminary programs. It is possible to graduate from Bible College and seminary with a 4.0 grade point average and still not know how to preach, evangelize, counsel, disciple, marry or bury because we do not require the students to actually try these skills. Our western approach to education has deteriorated to being satisfied with the student “knowing,” but not “doing.”
We would not accept this approach in a variety of other professions. Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you with only classroom experience? Would you fly on a plane that is piloted by someone who only read a book? Do you want your chef to have more experience than owning a cookbook? Why do we accept it in ministry?
BMW has a series of workshops that helps a church think through how it can do non-formal church-based training that includes all three: head, heart, and HANDS. Frequently, as we complete the workshop and begin helping put together a plan, the default reaction is to start crafting an academic curriculum. The tendency is to equate training with classes. Scripture makes it clear that we must give attention to all three. A well-rounded training program for equipping people for the ministry will give equal time and priority to all three areas.