We have looked at mentoring, internships, and church-based seminaries as ways to train pastors in the local church. We will now consider the concept of a churches partnering with another church or ministry to train men for ministry.
Benefits of Partnering with Another Ministry
A church may not be ready to launch its own training program, but by partnering with another church or parachurch ministry, it can bring pastoral training to its local context. Other churches and ministries have already worked to develop programs of ministerial instruction, and a church can partner with them to provide facilities and opportunities to train men. Working cooperatively in this way can be a healthy expression of fellowship and unity in Christ, including reaching across denominational lines. It also holds great potential for the efficient use of the resources, gifts, and time of those involved. Such cooperation may also yield further development and fruitfulness for both parties.
Preparing to Partner
If a church is to partner with another church or ministry, several factors merit consideration before committing to such an arrangement.
- There must be doctrinal and practical agreement between the church and the ministry it partners with. When a church works with a ministry of its own denomination or when sister churches of the same denomination cooperate, this may be easiest. However, a Baptist church could conceivably cooperate with a non-denominational ministry that trains pastors. Both parties need to decide what level of agreement they will require to work together, and their goal may help determine that level. If they simply want to train men called to the ministry by teaching them basic skills for hermeneutics and homiletics, then they may simply need to agree on the fundamentals of the faith while allowing for different views on church polity or what constitutes a Scriptural baptism (especially if they open the program to men outside their own local church). However, if the church wants to train men specifically for service in a particular denomination with a well-defined ecclesiology, they have a good reason to expect more agreement in those matters. (The church and other ministry could also agree to partner only for particular courses with the church pursuing other options for more specific denominational training.) Both parties must agree on what constitutes a sufficient level of doctrinal agreement and must be like-minded concerning the goal of their training.
- Both parties will need to agree on who teaches. They will need to decide if the ministry they are partnering with will provide all the teaching or if they will combine forces by involving staff from the host church.
- The partnership will need a liaison between the two parties. This is absolutely essential in a multi-staff church, but it could be helpful in a church with a solo pastor as well, particularly if he is already very busy. Whether the liaison is a pastor, a deacon, a staff assistant, or someone else, there needs to be a clear channel of communication between both sides to help avoid confusion. The liaison can help coordinate such important matters as announcements, scheduling, copying and distribution of materials, specifics relating to facility use (including who unlocks and locks the doors).
- Financial responsibility needs to be well-defined in this partnership. If the teachers are to be compensated in some way, whose burden will that be? Depending on the arrangement and abilities of the parties, one could bear all the responsibility or they could share. They might even take up offerings at the meetings! Nevertheless, financial responsibility needs to be discussed up front.
- Technical and logistical details will need to be discussed. What kind of room will the training require? Is there a need for microphones? Will the church supply items like a projector or audio/video recording equipment and media, or will the other ministry? (This may also go back to the question of financial responsibility, particularly if the church does not already have such equipment in place if needed.) Will one party supply the textbooks for the men or will they purchase them on their own?
Examples of Churches Partnering with Other Ministries
The Cumberland Area Pulpit Supply (CAPS), an extension of Bancroft Gospel Ministry, Kingsport, Tennessee, has partnered with several churches in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeast Kentucky, and Southern West Virginia to train men in hermeneutics and homiletics through lectures, textbooks, assignments, and sermons in class. Some of the men then obtain supply preaching opportunities and even opportunities to pastor a church, through these relationships.
Seminaries and Bible Colleges can also partner with churches. Extension courses and extension centers allow many men to work toward a degree while continuing to serve in their home church. This is another good example of a partnership between a church and another ministry.
If you are interested in a partnership such as these, you may also want to check around in your area – there may be churches and ministries already training men and you may be able to partner with them. Ask other pastors; ask others in your denomination. You may already have what you need in the neighborhood.
Whether it is cooperating with a church in the next town, bringing in a parachurch ministry to partner with, or utilizing the program of another organization, partnering with others to train men in the local church is a worthy and beneficial approach.
In the next installment of this series, we will look at the traditional Bible college and seminary as ways to train pastors in the local church.
What do you think? Are there other things to consider for a church to cooperate with another ministry to train pastors? Do you know of some other ministries churches could partner with to train men for ministry?
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