Basic Structure
In the early summer of 2000, St. Helen’s Bishopsgate played host to the annual Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA), sponsored by the Proclamation Trust. The theme for the conference that year was “Church Planting,” and nearly 1,000 pastors attended. Don Carson, Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, made the trip to speak at the general sessions and to lead a workshop for attendees on the importance of the relationship that exists between church planting and training students for ministry.

In his breakout session, Carson highlighted the convergence of three ideas necessary to train preachers. They were classroom instruction, ministry experience, and mentorship. Put differently, the main concepts that should be present in a church-based training program are content (classroom instruction), practice (ministry exposure or ministry experience), and guidance (mentorship).

  If you are going to teach the Bible well, you will need a strong foundation of content. You will need tools that will help you read, understand, and prepare to teach God's Word. You might add Biblical doctrine, theology, original languages, and a focus on church history or ecclesiology. But, to keep the right emphasis, you will never want to stray too far from the most basic function of someone in Gospel ministry: sharing God's Word thoughtfully and faithfully.

  Preparation for Gospel work will flourish if those in training can be placed in a local church where they have opportunities to test and grow their gifts. Only by putting into practice what they are learning in the classroom will they grow. Students need the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. But mostly, they just need the opportunity to develop the right instincts for ministry by being in it in a substantial, meaningful way.

MENTORSHIP   Formal education offers great content and a logical structure for teaching it. But, when it comes to skills and character and practice, nothing compares with having a mentor. This is particularly true in Gospel ministry, where life and doctrine are so intimately tied. The wise and experienced leading the young is the Biblical model.

With this basic structure in mind, you may want to explore some resources that can help you get started.