A Pastor's Forum
We asked a roundtable of pastors the following question:
Do local churches have the responsibility to help raise up the next generation of pastors, and if so, why?
- Rickey Armstrong (Glendale Baptist Church, Miami, FL)
- Stephen E. Farish (Crossroads Church, Grayslake, IL)
- David Helm (Holy Trinity Church, Chicago, IL)
- Juan Sanchez (High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, TX)
- Sandy Willson (Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, TN)
As Lord of the church, Christ has guaranteed the church’s success for all ages (Matt. 16:18-19). We can therefore be assured that he will provide the leaders it needs to serve the saints in future generations. Since the assignments of pastor and teacher are spiritual gifts (Eph.4:11), those blessed with those gifts will have a corresponding commitment to do the work. And our Lord will ensure that the church will never be without a sufficient supply of such men.
To this end, God uses churches and pastors who are faithful to his Word to produce future leaders for his church. Raising up future pastors is an essential part of a church’s disciple-making responsibility. This is in part what Paul has in mind when he calls upon Timothy to guard the treasure and pass it on to faithful men (2 Tim. 1:14, 2:2). A church should confirm young men who profess to be called on the basis of their willingness to guard the valuable treasure of God’s truth for their generation.
I have encouraged the young men under my care both to serve our church as pastoral interns or associates and to make a commitment to attend Bible College and seminary. This not only provides valuable experience and education, it’s an investment in the future of the church.
Rickey Armstrong is the pastor of Glendale Baptist Church in Miami, Florida.
Stephen E. Farish
I believe the local church has the responsibility to raise up the next generation of pastors in at least two senses. First, local churches should recognize and set apart men who evidence the spiritual giftedness and passion that should be apparent in any man called by God to vocational ministry. As a practical matter, where else but in the local church can men exhibit publicly the giftedness that indicates the Lord has called them? The context of 1 Timothy 4:13-14 even suggests that the particular council of elders who set apart Timothy for pastoral ministry were God’s vehicle for endowing Timothy with an additional supernatural measure of giftedness in the preaching and teaching.
Second, the local church is responsible to raise up the next generation of pastors by training men in both theology and the shepherding work of pastoral ministry. Seminaries provide future clergy with a theological education, but the academy must bring local churches alongside itself as full partners for teaching doctrine and the application of doctrine. The Lord gifts some local churches with the resources necessary to establish full-fledged "pastor's colleges" of their own, and I view the trend of establishing such training schools as a significant blessing from God. Yet the Lord calls every local church, as he presents the opportunity, to assist seminaries in equipping men for responsible, God-honoring, fruitful ministry of the gospel.
Stephen E. Farish is the pastor of Crossroads Church in Grayslake, Illinois.
The apostle Paul may have earned a theological education in the school of Gamaliel, but he looked to local churches to do the work of carrying on his gospel work. He asked Timothy to entrust the gospel to “faithful men who will be able to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). He told the Ephesians that pastors and teachers were called to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). He knew his work in Crete was not complete until Titus appointed “elders in every town” (Titus 1:5).
Simply put, Paul put his gospel hopes for the world on the backs of local pastors who served in local churches. And, as a consequence, we refer to his “Pastoral Epistles,” not his “Scholastic Letters.”
In short, churches should train future pastors because the Word commends it, the apostolic practice modeled it, the next generation requires it, and the lost shall remain eternally lost without it. If we don’t train, who will?
David Helm is the pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, Illinois.
As the pillar and buttress of truth, the church has a responsibility to ensure qualified candidates for gospel ministry (1 Tim. 3:15; 5:22). One way to fulfill this task is by training future pastors in the context of the local church.
This is a biblical model. Timothy was Paul’s true child in the faith, whom Paul trusted in difficult contexts (1 Timothy 1:2, 3). Likewise, Paul told Timothy to entrust what he had learned to faithful men so that they would train others also (2 Tim. 2:1-2). Sinclair Ferguson writes, “It is thus that true leaders are generally formed and developed. When leaders have never been led—not merely at the formal level, but in the sense of a heart devotion and heart submission to wise and caring leadership—they are not usually well-equipped to lead others” (In Christ Alone, 207-08).
Thus, it is also a practical model. Though I served with many good pastors, they neither spoke into my life, nor shared their reasons for the practices and processes of pastoral ministry. As a result, I learned many difficult lessons on my own. My desire is to equip future pastors in a way that I wish I had been equipped for gospel ministry in order that they may serve Christ faithfully and teach others to do the same.
Juan Sanchez is the teaching pastor at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.
Some years ago we initiated a pastoral internship program at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, because we believe that the local church possesses the primary responsibility to identify, encourage, pray for, and prepare pastors.
We cooperate with several seminaries who have agreed to allow their students to take the last semester of their master of divinity program on our campus. Our program consists of fifteen hours of pastoral courses, taught by our pastors and overseen by the appropriate seminary professor, over a period of eighteen months. Instead of preaching two or three times in a seminary classroom, they teach or preach forty times with in-depth assessments. They learn how to lead a group of people, make hospital calls, conduct funerals and weddings, write liturgy, lead in worship, exercise church government and discipline, and engage in serious pastoral theological discussions. There is no way these things can be taught adequately apart from practical involvement in the local church.
We have been pleased that all of our graduates have told us they have been well-prepared for their first full-time ordained ministries.
Sandy Willson is the pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.