Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Watching Ben Pfahlert

I am currently reviewing hours and hours of material taped by Col Marshall as he interviews leaders who have been involved in training apprentices in ministry.

There is some marvellous pragmatic stuff from Ben Pfahlert (current national director of the MTS, Ministry Training Strategy) about why it is actually efficient to add two years to your training for ministry before going on to enter theological college. It looks like a waste of time to spend six years rather than four in training, before you even hit your first longterm paid ministry role. But Ben makes the point that heaps of pastors drop out of ministry over the years, and for a good number of them (in Ben's observation) it has to do with them just not really knowing what it was going to be like before they started the long and arduous process of training for it. A two year MTS-style apprenticeship is going to give a pretty solid sense of what it will be like.

I also really appreciated his statement of the big lesson he says he learned as a ministry apprentice: that it is God's job to fill ministry holes (whether Bible study leaders or others), and so the best response is not to panic but to pray.

This material is pure gold—wonderful practical and theological thinking from Tara Thornley, Joshua Ng, Phillip Jensen and a heap of others (I'm in there too). And Col Marshall is, seriously, one of the best interviewers I have seen. There is a mountain of material here that will certainly repay the effort of trainee trainers in watching them. I have the job of ensuring that the material ends up well indexed, edited and accessible; as well as linking it to the MTS training manual I'm working on with Col Marshall.

The process is going to take a while. I believe that by the time we've finished working on this resource we're going to have something that will be of extraordinary gospel benefit for our generation of gospel workers. Also, I am hoping that Col will keep interviewing and adding to what we have.


One Salient Oversight said...

It sort of appears that MTS looks at ministry as a "trade" that can be learned through experience, while theological college sees it as a profession.

It's actually both, and it is quite obvious that many who get their B.Th or B.D. or M.Div, while now "professional", may not actually have the skills required for ministry.

But, of course, even MTS grads end up dropping out of ministry too.

h B Smith said...

Yep you're right OSO.

And some people who get through MTS and college, don't drop out of ministry and really should.

So it cuts both ways.

michael jensen said...

Yes, that was going to be my question: I have known people who have dropped out of ministry from both MTS and non-MTS backgrounds. Are there any stats collected on this?

I always thought the 'try this and see if it's for you' thing was a strange reason to give for encouraging someone to do MTS. Presumably, you think it IS for you when you start.