Is Seminary Necessary??

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Newsletter

Under The Elmtree

In This Edition


* Seminary – Competence – Pastorate

* Leading Transformation

* Pastoral Placement – FIT

* for Ministry Support

* Pod Cast  Thrive – Leadership Is

* This Date in History –

Some men tell me they





Seminary – Competence – Pastorate

You just suffered a major Myocardial Infarction. It is life threatening. You choose as your physician: a) your neighbor who has a 10th grade education and is unemployed, b) the guy down the street that repairs cars in his back yard, or, c) the very best Cardiologist in your state.

My assumption is you chose c. Why? Because your life depends on his competence and expertise in treating patients suffering heart anomalies.

Your company is facing a complicated legal issue through no fault of your own. It involves millions of dollars. You will secure Legal Service from: a) the UPS Driver that delivers packages to your house, b) the guy that runs the coffee shop where you stop every morning, c) the finest Legal Team in the Mid-West.

My assumption is you chose c. Why? Because the longevity and continued existence of your company depends on the skill, training, and competence of that Law Firm and their team of Attorneys that will represent you.

So, should those who Pastor/Shepherd a congregation in the church be any less competent and highly skilled than the Cardiologist or Attorneys?

The focus of this issue of the News Letter is addressing this question – – ‘Is a Seminary Education required to pastor in today’s culture?’ Well, the answer to that question is ‘Yes’ & ‘No’! Let me explain and PLEASE do not jump to any conclusions or let your prejudiced opinion answer the question. I will close this article with my personal testimony on the impact Seminary has had for44 years on my life and ministry.

There have been several men that had no Seminary Training and enjoyed great success and effectiveness in ministry; Bunyan who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, Charles Haddon Spurgeon who led the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and Martin Lloyd-Jones who served for 50 years at Westminster in London. They are the exception. Such success without the equipping that Seminary provides is extremely rare.

Let me clarify right here. There is a vast difference between a Seminary Education and a Seminary Degree. There are many men with degrees that never accomplished  Seminary Education. They managed to go through the process without embracing the opportunity to immerse themselves in the incredible value and benefit of learning the original languages, church history, homiletics, hermeneutics, etc. The people you serve are the beneficiaries of your competence and diligence in applying what you learned.

Here are several pluses or advantages that a Seminary Education provides for pastoral ministry. You will appreciate these much more AFTER you have been in the battle for a few years. Mark it down, it is a battle, it is spiritual warfare!

1) Confidence Pastoral ministry is literally the care and feeding of God’s chosen people. The text of Scripture provides a clear warning to those who wear the mantle of Pastor/Shepherd.(James 3:1). Every time you mount the sacred desk to declare the unchanging TRUTH of the Gospel you will be exceedingly thankful for the CONFIDENCE that a Seminary education well executed provides for you. With proper humility, you know as you speak that you are accurately with precision in context representing what the text says!

2) Competence There is great joy in knowing that you are executing the care and feeding of God’s people with precision and excellence. Like a skilled surgeon, you apply the tools of exegesis and hermeneutics with precision. You witness the transformation God produces through your ministry in the people you serve. Making disciples is accomplished by the accurate declaration of God’s revealed TRUTH as applied by the Holy Spirit = Transformation.

3) Tenacity Seminaries report that five (5) years after graduation, 50% of the graduates are no longer in ministry. That is a stunning statistic. Possessing the tools that seminary provides and unconditional surrender to Jesus as Lord makes longevity in ministry possible. Peterson framed this as ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.’. I recently served a Pastor who is completing 68 years in the same church! That men is real Tenacity.

My Testimony on Seminary Education

I was 27 years old with two children when I began my undergraduate studies. After 1 year I determined that a Seminary Education was imperative. That was in 1970. Our culture today is far more complex and challenging. The competence that a Seminary Education provides equips a man to face head on those challenges. My education opened a multitude of ministry opportunities to me. God has taken me to 27 countries training pastors and church leaders. I added to my Seminary training Church Consultant Certification which was granted me in large part because of my education and International experience. I currently write Book Reviews for Crossway Publications. My Seminary Education has equipped with the tools to do that. God has granted me the joy of six radio programs a week in which I promote the Reformation and Renewal of the church. Our children and grandchildren have been influenced by my education. Modeling influences as little else can. Our eldest son is an Attorney and serves as Chief Counsel for the Inspector General in the Security Exchange Commission in Wash D.C. He is 53 years old. He is pursuing an M.Div. at Southern Seminary.

God granted me the privilege of having 20 Pastoral Interns over the 49 years of pastoral ministry. Today they serve as Military Chaplains, Missionaries, Pastors, Hospice Chaplains, etc. My Seminary Education in part made this possible and it is a great way to multiply your Kingdom impact.

Some men tell me that ‘I did not have the opportunity to attend Seminary’. Really? Let me close by saying the incredible multitude of options that exist today to get a Seminary Education is simply stunning. Obviously a resident program is best, but, you can accomplish an M.Div. via on line instruction. Knowing the original languages is a strategic advantage in pastoral ministry. You know with accuracy and precision in context what God’s Word declares. The people you serve trust that you are properly representing God’s Truth. Sell everything you have and pursue such an education (Matt. 13:46). You will never regret acquiring the skills and competence such an education provides. Soon enough my pilgrimage will be over and I delight in what God has graciously permitted me to do for the Kingdom and the King! Seminary Education contributed significantly to that endeavor. Pastor, encourage the men under your ministry that God calls into pastoral ministry to get the very best Seminary Education possible. You serve the King & the Kingdom well by doing so. (Consider The fee is $200/hour and you get an M.Div. with both languages in 4 years.

ResourceSome Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson. Read Chapter 35, pp. 685-696. The Preacher As Theologian. Rich fare for your soul!

The link takes my readers to an article by Dr. Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City MO. He affirms what I have said in this article. Read & Heed!


Leading Transformation

The decline of the American Church is an indisputable reality as this post documents. Many pastors and church leaders are profoundly aware of this decline. The quandary they wrestle with is ‘what must we do to address and correct this persistent impotence?’

When you have a cavity, you go to the Dentist. When you have a foot injury, you go to a Podiatric Surgeon. Such actions are reasonable and lead to a favorable resolution to your problem.

The IgniteUS Transformation Process provides abundant resources that bring exegetically supported correction to the existing dysfunctions in ministry. Each church presents distinct challenges. Our Process is tailored to the church you are leading. We have helped many pastors and churches go from decline to robust effectiveness in making disciples (Call Pastor Louis Venable in Loris, SC – 843 817 7842). Individual people and the church as a body are transformed. The Process begins with an objective Assessment that enables you to know the true condition of the church you serve. This makes it possible to effectively address the causes of decline.

We come alongside of any church that has a high view of Christ and a high view of Scripture. There is. a very modest monthly fee depending on the level of Consultation you desire. Continuous decline is not the only option. Give me a call to investigate this process for implementation where you serve.. I have an article titled Measuring What Matters Most that will facilitate genuine Transformation  I will send this to all who make such a request You will be very glad that you called. (800 472 3764 or


Pastoral Placement

Leadership is crucial. When a church is seeking a Lead Pastor there are multiple critical areas that must be considered. Tragically the traditional approach to this process has produced brief pastoral tenures (3 1/2 years is the current average) and less than robust effectiveness. It takes about five (5) years for a pastor to earn trust and the willingness of people to embrace the changes ministry requires. A positive and wise trend is to seek the services of a proven Consultant and Process. IgniteUS provides such a service. Our goal is to guide the church to a man that fits the church and the church fits the man. We provide testimonials from those who have utilized our services. Contact us @ 800 472 3764 or


Ministry Support $$

We are asking you to give – $10 a month. These funds enable us to provide  Scholarships to Pastors & Churches. Christ gets the Glory!  On our Home Page ( click on the banner labeled Online Giving and follow the prompts.

People do not give to a ministry because you have needs. People give because they believe you meet needs and they want to be a significant part of helping meet those needs.

THANKS to each one who gives! Appreciated!


Pod Cast – THRIVE


The title of the Pod Cast is THRIVE. That is our desire for every pastor and every local church. We want you to thrive in making disciples, and developing leaders, all of which is to Glorify Jesus Christ. There is a banner on our web site – – – – just click on that banner. This Pod Cast has the potential to reach 35,000 listeners. If you listen and find benefit in the content, encourage folks in your sphere of influence to listen as well, then contact us. THANKS. I want to hear from you; or 800 472 3764.

The Pod Cast are posted every Tuesday. On July 17 I began a series titled “Leadership Is”. The ministry of IgniteUS is focused on Leadership Development and Intentional Disciple Making in the local church. These posts will inform, encourage, and equip leaders in the local church. Click on the banner on our home page labeled -Thrive.







This Date in History

1620 Mayflower sets sail from Southampton, England, with 102 Pilgrims

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