Dan Kimball is on staff at Vintage Faith Church, professor at George Fox University, and author of several books, including Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion.
Theological seminaries are a vital resource to the global church. They will always be necessary. But these schools face a major challenge. For their future, there is a great need for the majority of faculty and decision-makers to accept more fully their crucial role as missionaries and trainers of missionaries.
Whether professors teach Greek, theology, or another topic, the question at hand for them is: How does teaching this class do more than teach students how best to study the Bible and preach about it?
If seminary professors could teach preaching and other skills more passionately, seminary students would more completely develop a passion for evangelism. The global church would also stand to benefit greatly. This kind of seminary graduate as a career pastor might help every faithful Christian have a heart that is broken for a neighbor or friend who doesn't know Jesus yet.
I am not at all suggesting that we lower the academic level of teaching or ignore scholarship. Keep that at a high level. But all seminary instruction is best viewed in light of and evaluated by how it fuels the hearts and minds of students to serve as missionaries in their world.
If seminary leaders place this mission at the forefront, it could become a guiding influence in their evaluation of everything taught and every decision made. The challenge for seminaries is to shift their identities from academic to missionary. This shift would over time cause seminaries to become missionary-training centers fully intertwined ...