At Theolog, Bob Cornwall asks what makes a good pastor, in particular whether seminary training is essential
Jesus was relatively uneducated, as were most of his disciples and many of the great saints of history. In certain pockets of the church, a growing number of voices suggest that a seminary education is not only unnecessary but even detrimental to effective ministry. Just to make sure we get the message, a shelf-load of books detail all the important things that a minister won’t learn in seminary.
What they neglect to mention is that courses in Bible, theology and church history (my specialty) are very important, if not essential, to effective ministry. It’s upon these courses that we build our understanding of the practical sides of ministry.
Pastors should study the Bible, theology and church history, but whether a seminary course best does this is an open issue. I can’t answer that question anymore. (My ambivalence about seminary probably arises here. My recent studies in preaching at Christian Theological Seminary were invaluable.)
Beyond this, I see four things that make a good pastor:
+ a connection to Christ sustained by prayer
+ credibility, honesty and basic trustworthiness
+ a capacity for affirming relationships
+ competence in preaching and worship
I left out calling because any vocation can be a calling, and all believers can serve as priests to one another.
So these four marks are essential — the rest will work itself out.