I have always found interesting the stand that the Amish take on formal education. They believe that too much education leads to a proud heart. They do not encourage ignorance but what would seem to be a focus on creating a desire to learn informally over the course of one’s life. I have read that they are encouraged to read a lot, with a special focus on the Bible. This seems to be the very opposite within the current culture of the evangelical church. The high focus on formal education seems to infer that education equals competence and commitment in the Christian life. Not so sure we have that one right.
My family was Catholic up until my early teen years when both my parents where born again. It did not take long for my dad to feel called into ministry and was then challenged by the pastor to go back to school and get his Masters in Divinity. I can remember the shock wave that went through our whole house when he made the announcement. From that point up until I had spent a few years on the mission field, my view was that ministry and formal education seem to be tied at the hip, a necessity.
As I began to participate in church plants where “formal training institutions” did not exist I began to face the struggle of answering the how and the where in leadership development. I can remember struggling with the idea of an exit plan in a church plant. This exit plan was greatly dependent upon a succession of leadership, someone capable to take over where I was going to leave off. It did not take long to realize that my exit plan was stuck, no “formal institutions” close by to pick a pastor, no big funds to make a pastor happy full time, what in the world could be done?
These struggles have led me to ask the ever so deep questions of how much knowledge is enough for someone to be able to lead/pastor? and how much experience is enough for a new leader/pastor? Both of these questions have led me to rethink both traditional leadership development and the current professionalization of ministry.
This is why we are now focusing on a Servant Leadership model where the local church is responsible for the training and mobilizing of its leaders. Our desire is to equip the local church with the tools to train their leaders and form them into ministry teams that are willing and capable to start new churches around their communities.