Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seminary, The Local Church, The Pastor's College and a Good Friend

(How's that for a title to a blog post?) This last week I received an article published by "" by a good and recent friend that have come to know over the last couple of years, Steve Burchett. His article entitled "Seminary Is Dangerous," just reminded me of God's grace at work in my own life in the past 10+ years. In his article Steve talks about the need for and the centrality of the local church in the life, training and development of a pastor, as well as some very real pit falls "seminary life" can provide. I wanted to forward this article on because I felt was it helpful in identifying some aspects to consider as some contemplate "seminary life."

I went to seminary - however, if it were not for my precious local church - Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena, where I had godly, humble men who provided an example for me as to what it actually looked like to not just sit around in a coffee shop and pontificate about theology and "great" ideas, but to actually apply it in their own lives of the "gloriously mundane" everyday life of being a husband and father first. I thank God for pastors such as Mark Mullery, Ron Boomsma and Lynn Baird! They provided an example for me as a young seminarian to apply what one wise (and right) Systematic Theology Professor told us on our first day of classes, "You won't learn theology here...we can tell you about it, and teach you about it...but you won't know it, until you apply it...and you can't apply it here as it is intended and put forth for us in Holy Scripture. We see in Holy Scripture the place to apply it is in the context of the local church, not a seminary. We will only teach you some things...but you won't know it until you walk it out in the grit of everyday life in a community called "the local church." I thank God for that professor for doing his job - he pointed me back not to the loftiness of the "greatness" of my own ideas (what a joke), but instead to the importance of the local church. As a young seminarian, I encountered men that I wanted to be like, because they were pursuing Christ. Men who were not famous, nor flashy, but faithful where they lived. Sinless? No. Humble? Yes, although they were quick to confess their own pride and shortcomings. To these great pastors - Mark, Ron, Lynn and many others like them - thanks for being great husbands and fathers first! You have been and continue to be great examples for me - I only hope I might be able to follow Christ, as you have!

With this I wanted to also share how thankful I am for Sovereign Grace Ministries' Pastor's College. I went there after seminary, and I have to say - what I experienced there dwarfed the 3+ years of seminary life. "Seminary life" by itself is a lonely life. Yet, the Pastor's College was different, it was theological training that I was prepared for because of the local church, it was rooted in a local church and focused to send me out to pastor a local church. It was different also in that, for many of the reasons Steve mentions, it focused on the importance of one living one's theology in the home, in a local church - this is the starting point of an elder - how he is at home, with his wife, kids and other brothers. I could go on and on (which I am afraid I have). But Steve, thanks bro for a great article! Thanks for provoking us all (not just seminary folks) to love Christ, to love the local church and to pursue biblical application in humility! Thanks bro!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Matthew:

Thank you for your encouraging words about my little article. Also, thanks to you and your Sovereign Grace brothers. You are, in so many ways, models for us in both training pastors and humility in life.

Warmly in Christ,