Theological Education: A Collaborative Effort among Churches and Seminaries
By Rev Wayne Cheung
November 20, 2022
The Theological Education Sunday every two years at NPAC is aimed at encouraging brothers and sisters to seek God’s will on whether he/she is called to serve as full-time ministers and to get equipped in seminaries. Meanwhile, the church also wishes to take the opportunity to promote theological education. We encourage brothers and sisters to take appropriate Bible or theology courses to know God more fully and for serving Him. This is to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12).
Small as it is, Hong Kong nevertheless provides many seminaries and Christian training institutions. Since the middle of the last century, various kinds of theological training have been flourishing, grooming large numbers of local pastors and missionaries. They also train up full-time and tentmaking Kingdom workers who suit the needs of the times for local and overseas Chinese populations. The seminaries and institutions also train up church leaders and lay believers. They become a blessing for our churches, the workplace and Christian organizations, and have advanced the development of theological education.
You may ask: Isn’t the church done with its mission just by sending appropriate believers to seminaries to be trained as future pastors and church leaders? Now theological education is not installation work as in factories. We should not think that we only need to send people to be “processed” and then we can produce some sort of workers suited to the needs of the market. On the contrary, theological education should be training on both life and skills. It should also address the complexity and drastic changes of the era.
This is why we need even closer collaboration between churches and seminaries so that future pastors and church leaders can respond more effectively to contemporary pastoring ecology and needs upon completion of equipment and training. To achieve this goal, churches have five practical tasks:
First, churches should make a greater effort to encourage believers to serve, use their gifts and, in the process, learn to work with God. This will help them discern God’s calling in the course of their lives.
Secondly, pastors and church leaders need to walk with those who serve, providing timely spiritual, emotional and practical support as well as prayers so that they will realize the importance of “close pastoring” as well as teaching by example. When these committed believers serve regularly, pastors should suggest appropriate training or theology courses for them to attend so that they can reflect on and more fully integrate their ministry experience, life of faith and their biblical and theological knowledge.
Thirdly, for those committed to nurturing others’ lives, pastors can help them with spiritual direction and discernment. On the one hand, pastors can continue to support them, walk with them and watch over them. On the other hand, pastors can recommend them to join the church’s Dedication Group where they can more concretely discern whether God calls them to serve as pastors.
Fourthly, pastors can help believers who are prepared to receive full-time training to know various seminaries and Christian training institutions more. This will help them make a choice after God’s heart when responding to His call.
Finally, for seminarians, pastors should continue to watch over them while at the same time encourage them to share their personal experiences with those after them. That way, they would contribute to the efforts in passing on the legacy regarding equipping for faith as well as theological education to build up the body of Christ together.