Most pastors begin their ministries with high hopes. We envision studying for hours to feed our people well through preaching. Further, we dream of leading small group studies, developing teachers and training the next generation. And to be sure, we have every intention of instructing our people in theology and helping them to be rooted deeply in the doctrine of God’s Word.
It is not that these dreams ever fade away; it is simply that they often get crowded out. The endless barrage of meetings, crises, and emergencies have a way of making us focus on the immediate, often to the neglect of the eternal.
No church is steeped in theological education by accident. It results from a relentless determination to make it so. Consider making necessary changes to your schedule and ministry to awaken your dreams of teaching your people biblical theology purposefully and strategically. This is not done simply to make our people intelligent; theology is taught to help them know God better, love Him more deeply and follow Him with greater passion.
We began a purposeful two-year Bible training program at my church several years ago called, The Institute. It has made an immeasurable impact on our people. I have seen dozens of benefits within our church. Here are a few of the benefits.
- The congregation knows the Lord better and is protected from false teaching. There is so much accessibility to preaching today, which is both a blessing and a danger. While excellent teachers are available through the internet, so are false teachers. Scripture reminds us that pastors are to be working to help our people grow in biblical discernment (Eph. 4:14). When theology is taught in the local church, our people are rooted in the Word of God.
- Fathers are better equipped to lead their families in spiritual matters. Christian fathers and husbands desire to be strong, spiritual leaders in their homes, but most simply do not feel able to do so. A lack of training leaves many men unable to teach their families, and churches are weakened. Yet, when churches have ministries that train our men in theology, the result will be husbands and fathers who are competent to handle the Scripture, and their families will follow. I’ve heard stories from wives whose husbands have graduated from The Institute, and it’s thrilling to hear how this training has impacted their homes.
- Pastors are forced to remain lifelong students. When the congregation is trained in biblical theology, it is both an encouragement to the pastor and a challenge. The pastor must see that he continues to learn and grow. Too many churches get stagnant because the pastor has ceased to be a student. Teaching theology in the local church ensures that the pastor must continue to sharpen his skills and deepen his knowledge as he leads his congregation in theological education.
There are many more benefits that come from having theological education in the church. I pray that this article awakens your vision to lead your church to be steeped in theological training. It will not happen by accident or without your leadership. I hope you will be encouraged to serve your congregation in this way!