“He says he’s a pastor, but he hasn’t got any kind of education.”
I was amazed at the disgust in my friend’s voice, himself an ordained Wesleyan pastor. It was clear not just by what he said but how he said it that a ‘real’ minister is defined by the organized schooling he or she has endured.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy learning and am indebted to the kind of education I’ve received in organized environments in the pursuits of diplomas and degrees. I’m looking forward to continuing my education and hold institutions of higher learning in high regard–especially those operating out of a passion to equip men and women for ministry. But the attitude that our value or function as ministers is directly related to our (organized) education stands in stark contrast to the way Jesus developed his own followers and the history of The Wesleyan Church. Jesus utilized an apprenticeship* process whereby he allowed his followers to get to know him & his ways, so they could then be sent out to operate with his authority; this was the definition of ‘discipleship.’
These same disciples were told to make disciples–to raise people up and send them out operating in the authority of Christ.
The heritage of The Wesleyan Church echoes this history–bishops and leaders ordaining others for ministry and sending them out regardless of formal education because there was an ‘apprenticeship’ mindset (and this apprenticeship mindset resulted in fricton with the religious establishment).
Education is important–most of the New Testament was penned by a very educated man. But had it not been for the transforming power of Jesus, being prepared and sent out, the most effective missionary in history would have died a relatively unknown, but well educated, persecutor of those who were sent.
I love The Wesleyan Church and her heart for holiness, equality, and freedom. I love our current passion to see our ministry training grounds be effective in academics and praxis — but let us be wary of thinking education makes an apprentice; we just might be surprised at what God does, and who he uses, when we remove the prerequisite of ‘appropriate education’ from effective ministry.
*For more on ‘apprenticeship’ take a look at the Dave and Jon Ferguson‘s Exponential
This post is part of a series. Check out the introduction here, as well as parts 1, 2, and 3.