Pastor Dahling has requested a post on what Seminary didn't quite prepare me for as regards life in the parish. So here I go.
Because my father went through the Sem and was a pastor, because all through High School I hung out and talked with Pastors - I knew, or at least saw, the frustrations of the parish. I don't think the Seminary prepares people for that well - it's mentioned in passing - we are warned that people won't be that great theologians - Scaer will tell us that our congregations will probably be methodist - but you'll handle and deal with it.
It's that dealing with it that is hard. It's that dealing with it that results in so many pastors leaving the parish after a few years. And here is the root of the problem.
At the Seminary, we are trained to be theologians. We are trained to think and approach things from a theological angle. We see things as theological, spiritual problems, and we are trained to give theological and spiritual answers. This is good and right - it's what we should be doing.
The problem is. . . nine times out of ten that's not what people want. Yes, you can teach a fine bible study - but what do you do when 90% of your congregation could care less? Yes, we know that we walk by faith - but what do you do when the majority of the people are looking simply at the bottom line?
What do we need more of at the Seminary? How about this - how to teach and instruct people on the importance of theology - how to teach people to think theologically. That's the hardest thing, I find - trying to get people to look at problems not from a worldly perspective but from a theological perspective.
Don't just tell me about the joys of preaching - the joys of being in God's Word. It is joyful - just as people not caring about that is painful. How do I teach, what are the apologetics I need to use, not for unbelievers, but for people who need to grow in the faith?
That's I think the great weakness of the Sem - that is what gets summed up in the times when it is called an "ivory tower" where the profs forget what it is like out there. How do we handle indifference? What do we do with those who are neither hot or cold but lukewarm?
That's the discussion I'd love to have had for a good week in a class at the Seminary.