I tweeted a couple of times this week, asking my fellow pastors and professors about “the rules of ministry education”.
It strikes me, as I think it through, that I’m really thinking about education in the broadest sense; “outputs” and character development, not just “inputs”. So maybe a better way to ask is about the rules of ministry preparation, not just what is taught or coached.
In the broadest sense, what do we (or others) often assume is the threshold, the “minimum”, for someone to be qualified for vocational ministry? What are “the rules” that people in our church settings usually assume qualify or disqualify (whether these assumptions are accurate or not).
Mostly GENERALITIES. ASSUMPTIONS.
What path are people expected to follow as they enter vocational ministry, “full-time Christian service”? What traits of character & spirituality do we expect them to have?
(I despise the phrase “full-time Christian service”; it seems to imply that you can be a part-time Christian, right? Or that service is for clergy only; Eph 4.11-16 gives the lie to that.)
I’m looking for things like:
To be in vocational ministry, you must go to Bible college and/or seminary.
To be in vocational ministry, you must have a college degree.
To be in vocational ministry, you must have taken certain classes in college (Bible, or Greek & Hebrew, or preaching, or church leadership, or …)
What classes do people assume you MUST have taken to be a preacher, or a “professional church leader”?
To be in vocational ministry, you must be married.
To be in vocational ministry, you must be male.
To be in vocational ministry, you must be a committed Christian.
To be in vocational ministry, you must be growing in spiritual health.
To be in vocational ministry, your life must set an example of holiness.
Etc., etc., etc. Insert your favorite rule here.
What assumed rules (true or not, valuable or misguided) about what you MUST do to be qualified for full-time vocational ministry can you think of?