Should Pastors Have to Go Through a Certain Amount of Schooling?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
I was curious why a person would have to attain a certain level of schooling in order to be deemed fit to serve as a pastor. I can't find anything in Scripture about pursuing any special education before pastoring.
Good question. The first half and the second half, however, don't go together.
The first half says, "Why do you have to have a certain level of schooling," and the second half says, "I can't see anything about any special education." Schooling and education aren't the same.
Now this person probably didn't want me to divvy it up like that. So let me try to get at what they want. And I can do it by making the distinction I just made.
Absolutely, no specific schooling should be required for being a pastor, in terms of the notion that a person go to at least 4th grade, 12th grade, four years of college, three years of seminary, or three more years of PhD. None of those levels is biblical.
My guess is that some of the most fruitful pastors in America have nothing but a high school education. Can I name one? C.J. Mahaney. He is just a beautiful representation of why this question is a good question.
And C.J. Mahaney founded a Pastor's college. Not a big highfalutin one. He just knows that you need some... need some what? Not schooling. You need some insight, some wisdom, some shaping, some depth, some Bible, some experience. All of those are biblical.
So yes, Amen, let's not elevate levels of schooling. Let's talk about what the Bible talks about. You must be "apt to teach." You must be able—this is Titus 1—to confute error. You must be able to come along side and pastor and help and encourage. All of that assumes something going into your life. It could come through formal schooling, or it could come through informal experience and education.
At issue here for pastoral ministry are the lists in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. And those qualifications are usually met through some kind of combination of mentoring and experience and personal study and prayer and, probably, helpfully, some kind of schooling.
But, yeah, we should not as churches say, "You have to have an MDiv." There are so many MDivs who are incompetent pastors, and PhDs! And there are people without them who would make really good pastors. I think all of that is changing, in fact.
So thank you for the question. It was very very helpful, I think, to show what's needed and what's not.
© Desiring God Foundation. Distribution Guidelines
Share the Joy! You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org