Sovereign Grace Pastors College
Hey family and friends, aside from our initial newsletter, I (Aaron) wanted to share more with you about the Pastors College (PC), what it is, why I believe it’s right for my family, and ultimately how I believe God will use it in Pastoral Ministry in the future. But, before I share, I want to take a minute and tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to stop by and visit our blog. We are honored that you have taken an interest in what God is doing in our lives and are excited to see what He is going to do through us “striving together for the hope of the Gospel” in the near future.
What Is the Pastors College?
There is nothing new under the sun; the Pastors College in Louisville Kentucky (where our family is moving in August) only stands on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us. In the year of 1855 well-known Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Charles Spurgeon saw the need to train some of the men in his congregation in Pastoral Ministry. It all started with Thomas Medhurst (a rope maker) who began to preach in the open air, eventually some of the members of the church began to complain to Mr. Spurgeon of the mans apparent lack of training and education. Mr. Spurgeon decided to have a talk with the young man and here is what was said “the young Medhurst did not deny that his English was imperfect, and that he might have made mistakes in other respects, yet he said, ‘I must preach, sir; and I shall preach unless you cut off my head.’ ” Since Spurgeon and the offended members were unwilling to do that, Spurgeon concluded, “I must do what I can to get him an education that will fit him for the ministry and the Pastors College was birthed. In the year of 1887, 110 men were in Pastoral Training, a testimony to the fruitfulness of the College.
The uniqueness of the college was its offer of a specialization in theological training to young men who had slender educational achievements or opportunities. This was an open door for training in pastoral ministry to men who would otherwise not have a chance like this. The method and model of the College was very different than most, Spurgeon wanted his students to be trained in the context of the local church, by working Pastors who themselves had the experience that was needed to properly train young men for future church planting, which was a notable achievement, over 200 churches planted by the students of the Pastors College. Thus what the college had that most colleges didn’t was a combination of academic-pastoral model for students. The very thing needed for fruitful ministry. Along with this hybrid was Spurgeons commitment to the Doctrines of Grace, the substitutionary atonement, biblical inspiration and authority, and eternal punishment. And when it came to the dependence upon God Himself to provide the financial means to accomplish a task such as this Mr. Spurgeon relied on the faith-filled principle that George Müeller had for the orphans he supported and Hudson Taylor had for missionary endeavors. The banner that was waived high was “When Gods work is done Gods way, it never lacks Gods supply”.
Although the two colleges are not connected in any way except maybe by inspiration, Charles Spurgeon’s Pastors College of over 150 years ago reminds me very much of the Pastors College that Sovereign Grace Church’s offers today. The oversight and leadership of the Pastors College today is led by Jeff Purswell, director of theology and training for Sovereign Grace Churches, and also elder at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville Kentucky. It is a ten-month academically intense program with a very specific purpose. They exist to train Pastors. The scripture that the College stands on is 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”. This is one of the many reasons why I’m excited about being able to attend the Pastors College (PC), there commitment to sound doctrine with an eye always toward the faithful, Spirit-empowered application of Gods word all within the setting of a working model of the local church stirs my heart to be faithful to the Gospel in the church plant that our Shepherd leads us to. The 36 weeks of classes are designed to provide building blocks for biblical and theological foundations in pastoral training, they include:
- 4 Weeks of New Testament studies
- 3 weeks of Old Testament studies
- 7 Weeks of Systematic Theology
- 1 Week of Biblical Theology
- 3 Weeks of Church History
- 2 Weeks of preaching studies/training
- 6 Weeks of Pastoral Ministry (e.g., biblical counseling, pastoral theology, personal spiritual growth)
- 1 Week each of Hermeneutics, Apologetics, Ethics, and Evangelism
- 1 Week on Missiology and Church Planting
- Courses on both Marriage and Parenting
- In addition, New Testament Greek is three mornings a week, which amounts to a years worth of seminary-level Greek.
This model of academic-pastoral training for ministry cultivates healthy disciples which in turns builds healthy marriages and families which then gives witness to the power of the Gospel of Christ to be the answer to every lost man or woman. Along with the fruitfulness of the Pastors College of Spurgeon’s day, we also find some comparisons of fruitfulness in the Pastors College of today. Since 1997, they have graduated 263 students. These graduates are ministering in 11 nations. In there association of churches 19 of there 67 churches were planted by Pastors College graduates. In those churches, 36 of them have a graduate as there senior pastor. After the PC is over my family and I will move directly into the residency program, that gives attention to preparation of the church plant. I have been told that this phase will include prayer about what City that we feel that God is leading us to plant, which will include demographic research. This simply means that we will look at the population of this City (who lives where, other churches in the area, and how we can be most effective). We aren’t seeking necessarily to plant among a certain people “rich or poor” just where the Lord desires and prayerfully ask God where He desires for a church to be planted. Josh and I hold the same desire to plant a multi-ethnic church that gives a true expression of the “coat of many colors” that the body of Christ is, meaning a body of believers who are from different ethnic backgrounds, race, culture and age. As you can see this is one big machine made up of many parts that are all working together to achieve one mission, namely to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, baptizing them into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded them, and behold I will be with you unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Why I Believe It’s Right for My Family
This one is probably the easiest question to answer. The training I will receive isn’t separate from my family or my local church; it involves my family and the local church that we will both be serving at together. Unlike seminary, the Pastors College is very good at involving the whole family, husband and wife, and preparing them both for pastoral ministry and seeking to cultivate the most important ministry that I have, which is the ministry to my family. Andrea will receive specialized training to help equip her to serve alongside me, we will spend a year in different and intentional context to help us mature as disciples and prepare for church planting. This is one of the major reasons why we are seeking God to provide for us both to be able to give our full time to preparation for the first 2 years. Sovereign Grace Churches is known for its emphasis on relational driven ministry that is built around Gospel Centered missional communities. One of the first things I noticed when first meeting pastors of this denomination was its inter-connectedness with other churches and there pastors, they truly love the whole body of Christ and seek to see it flourish for Gods glory among all peoples. The members of this church desire to be with each other in community, and understand at a heart level that the only way to truly change the culture is to stand together as a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light”. This is the DNA that Josh and I desire to shape not only our Church after but more so our marriages and our children after.
Future Benefits for Pastoral Ministry
The last words of a man who is getting ready to be martyred for his faith in Christ, a man who spent his life heralding the gospel of grace that had saved him from his sin and reconciled him to the Father, needs to be listened to very carefully, don’t you think? What is it that you think that Paul wanted to encourage young Timothy to remember, what were the benefits that Timothy was able to attain from being discipled and trained by Paul, not just theologically but experientially? I think that 2 Timothy 3:10-17 gives us an idea of the main things that Paul desired Timothy to take away from there time together.
Timothy followed Paul’s Doctrinal faithfulness.
Timothy followed Paul’s godly behavior.
Timothy followed Paul’s consuming passion.
Timothy followed Paul’s trust in Gods sovereignty.
Timothy followed Paul’s example of patience in afflictions.
Timothy followed Paul’s Christ-like love and his perseverance of faith.
Timothy benefitted from seeing Paul be a vanguard for the Gospel amidst a wave of persecutions and opposition.
Timothy benefitted from seeing that Gods purposes and His promises cannot be thwarted.
Timothy benefited from seeing Paul’s theology of suffering.
Timothy benefitted from hearing Paul’s understanding of evil in the world.
Timothy was encouraged to look at his mentors life and faithfulness to truth and hear Paul say “you have followed my example as I have followed Christ”
Timothy was reminded that Gods word is sufficient for life and godliness and has authority for all of ministry.
I believe that the benefits that I will receive from being apart of the Pastors College are much the same as Timothy received from his mentor Paul the Apostle. I am very excited to get beside the pastors that I will spend a lot of time with in order to grow in Christlikeness for the benefit of others and the glory of our God and Savior.
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