February 3, 2003 (re-written April 23, 2005, re-edited 1-25-2006)
Dear Pastor, this is a letter I never sent you. But I wrote it anyway, to myself. Maybe someday I can share this with you??
There is a big pitfall in the regional Bible School and Christian College. Take the case of J.T. whom we both know. I was his Sunday School teacher. You were his pastor. You discipled him and watched him. You felt that he was to be used here greatly in the local church. You sensed the call of God on his life. He was a soul winner, a young evangelist, a wonderful witness for the Lord. He reached people for Christ that still attend our fellowship.
He went to Bible School in a community hours from here. I felt this was not God's will from the very inception. I can speak from first hand experience. I have been to one of the best Bible School/Colleges and Seminary for ministerial training. I can tell you first hand that the school environment is often not God's best will. But sometimes it is the only option open to young Christians seeking discipleship.
Bible School will, more often than not, pull a young student's spiritual life down. It gives them so much busy work and study that often their spiritual life is negatively effected. Their times alone with God are threatened by study deadlines.
Also, the professors begin to share with these young students something my professors called, "Problems of the Bible." In it they bring out things that appear on the surface as contradictions and almost unanswerable problems. I nearly lost my faith going through that. And for a long time I lost faith in the King James Version. I did not realize that those so called problems and short comings were appearances and not reality.
Then to top it all off the distant Bible College refocuses the student to other geographical areas. Many never return to their home area. They marry someone from some other area. Their home pastor and their home church often loses their ministry.
The case of J.T. should be an example to us that local discipleship is the best training of all. Following Bible School J.T. has moved to several areas looking for ministry opportunities. Some doors have closed to him. It appears, on the surface, that he has been to some degree frustrated in his attempts to find a place to minister. I even have the feeling that he has lost some spiritual ground, as compared to his early High School days when he was winning souls locally.
I have learned that primitive pastors in "third world" areas often have better results than seminary and Bible College trained students. Primitive pastors have a simple faith. The simple faith in Christ rules. The Bible was not written for scholars. It was written for simple people with a child-like understanding, IF THOSE SIMPLE PEOPLE ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GOVERN AND DIRECT THEM.
On the other hand, those who are ignorant of the Spirit Baptism or reject it, they need much training, much education, much schooling...and even then they have a large chance of failure. But the Holy Spirit directed "simpleton" can run circles around the logically-directed, intellectual-ministry egg-heads.
Bible Colleges have been an expensive endeavor and one that takes good local people away from their roots.
Pastor, for all your work with J.T. you have little or nothing to show. Perhaps, someday, if you keep believing, he can return?? But there has been much wasted energy, much wasted time, little this young man can do here. It appears to me that J.T. has been robbed of God's best will by him following the traditional bible college route.
I trust that next time you find a young person with a call that you will counsel them to become your apprentice. Jesus didn't send the disciples off to Jerusalem for Israel's greatest teacher, Gamaliel a doctor of the law with a fantastic reputation, to school them. Jesus merely took them with HIM as Jesus ministered. J.T. didn't need schooling. He needed apprenticeship and going with a man of God on daily ministry expeditions.
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