Seminary exists because churches have failed. It use to be that theology and ecclesiology were intimately interconnected. Theologians were church-men. Theology is what pastors did. Average churches, however, got away from having resident-theologians in their assembly. Over time theology became the discipline of the academician, one often detached from the pastorate and from the life of the congregation. This is not as it should be. It is my conviction that seminary education belongs to the church and that Christians in general should be trained to be good theologians. It is because of that conviction that I am excited to announce that Cornerstone Baptist Church will be launching our Young Theologians Seminary Classes this fall!
Back in 2011 Forbes Magazine identified some major weaknesses in the current model of theological education. It’s extremely expensive and often does not prepare people for the real challenges of ministry. The Seminary Bubble, as they called it, ought to be a serious concern for Evangelicalism. The church, I believe, has the potential to pop this bubble and resolve this problem. If the church will take on the responsibility of training up future leaders itself we can do so at a significantly diminished expense, and with a keen eye and towards practical application in ministry.
This is not to suggest that the heady matters of philosophical theology, and systematics should be ignored or downplayed. Not at all. Those “heady” matters are an important part of the faith we profess. We certainly want to train congregants to think about the deep things of God. Our seminary education will seek to do this too, but not while overlooking and ignoring the practical implications of the various doctrines. In other words, it is far less important to spend time studying what Karl Barth had to say about election, than it is to understand what the Scriptures say about it and how it can affect my daily Christian life. Our Young Theologians Seminary classes will teach philosophical and theological doctrines, but we will always seek to make practical connections to our lives. You won’t find any asinine discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin here.
Our curriculum will be built around four core subjects: Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology (to be broken down into three parts), Hermeneutics, and Christian Ministry. Every semester at least one of these courses will be available for students. In addition to these four courses we will offer limitless elective courses. This fall we will be offering two basic courses: Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology (Part 1). In the Spring Pastor Bob will teach the first elective course, on New Covenant Theology; in addition another core course will be offered. You won’t want to miss these classes on Tuesday nights at 7pm.
The free seminary is part of an overall plan to raise up leaders in our congregation and future church planters to go out from our congregation. While we love and appreciate Seminaries, and continue to support them, we recognize that they are doing a job that the church has traditionally done and which we need to pick up again. We are equipped to offer theological and practical training for future leaders, and we are able to offer it to them at minimal cost (in this case free!). Leaders in the church should be knowledgeable of the Scriptures, solid in doctrine, and prepared to do the work of the ministry. Pastoral mentorship and in-house theological education can assist in equipping these leaders.
In many ways we have over-professionalized the ministry. It’s not that we shouldn’t hold pastors to a high standard. Ill-trained and ill-prepared ministers can do tremendous harm to the church of Jesus Christ. But a professionalized clergy is a modern invention, and in some cases it can end up creating “professionals” who aren’t very useful to the church. The Young Theologians Seminary classes are an exciting opportunity to provide the opposite. We hope you will consider joining us on Tuesday evenings this Fall. Sign up at CBC today!
I love that our church is doing this and I love this article, expecially the first line.
By ‘Free…For All” do we literally mean all, or are we talking about members of Cornerstone, or regular attenders?
Yeah, good question Scott. “All” is contextually bound here to mean largely the members of CBC. I would be willing to open it to anyone, but that is a conversation I have not had with Bob yet so I can’t say just how broadly “all” applies.