I’m not a mega-church pastor. So take what I say with a grain of salt. I don’t speak to tens of thousands each weekend. I speak to a faithful flock of under 200. I have stood in the same pulpit for over 800 Sundays. In that time frame I have come to some conclusions that I know are echoed by some of my other colleagues in ministry as well.
It seems that our Bible Colleges have lost touch with churches like mine. You see our basic problem is we are a church of under 200. That’s it in a nutshell. We don’t have much to offer apparently.
We don’t have a phone book full of ministry options for people. We don’t have staff that equal the size of our church. We don’t have a worship band that cranks out CD’s that we sell in our in-house bookstore.
You see, we are who we are. And the dirty little secret is, we like it that way. But as far as our Bible Colleges go, it would seem, we are definitely the type of church to avoid. In fact, as horrible as this sounds, we have become very comfortable in our own skin. You see, we don’t want to be a church led by Rick Warren or Craig Groeschel. We just want to be who we are…warts and all.
Now every Bible College President would probably put his hand on my shoulder and let me know how off-base I am. He would assure me that my assessment is not an accurate reflection of what is happening in our colleges in relationship to the church. But I can’t shake what I am seeing and hearing.
It would seem that many of our colleges are more concerned with being in step with the progressive tendencies of our culture that they have little time to properly focus on the fact that the majority of our churches in America are just like mine…under 200 in attendance. It is almost as if you would think the message being received by students in our colleges these days is if a church is under 200 the only thing it is good for is to help you get to a bigger and better church.
Which is another issue I have noticed over the years, there is an entitlement mentality amongst our Bible College graduates that runs counter to the servant spirit required to do practical ministry. Many of the young people entering ministry are more focused on what the church can do for them than what they can do for the church.
There are so many young people graduating with a fractured focus of ministry (youth, small group coordinator, children’s, worship, etc…) that they have adopted a “that’s not my job” mentality and heart. Sometimes a clogged toilet just needs to be unclogged. It could care less about your degree focus.
I have a friend who served an area church in Iowa that decided for budgetary concerns and a growing need with their young families that their current youth minister would need to focus on children’s ministry as well as youth ministry. Which translated practically into him overseeing the Jr. Church program and making sure that children’s Sunday School classes were properly facilitated and had good curriculum. This young man quit his job in protest rather than help pick up slack in a needed area of ministry.
I have had similar experiences as well. We have had young men serve as youth minister with this very same “what’s in it for me?” mentality. And the church is no better off.
Increasingly this is the product that is being turned out of our Bible Colleges. I understand much of what I have said is anecdotal but my experience keeps being echoed in my ears from so many of my colleagues. There is a problem. And there is a disconnect in what is needed in our churches and what our Bible Colleges are producing in leadership for the church.
Many of our Bible College graduates do not ask of a church: Here are my gifts, can you use them? But they ask: Here are my needs, can you meet them?
As I said, I am not a mega-church pastor, so I certainly am not hip, but I have learned this in my time in ministry: If you’re too big to clean a toilet then you’re too little to do anything else.
Some of us need to repent of thinking too highly of ourselves. If you’re too big to do something small then you are too small to do something big. In fact, the smaller you are, the more room you leave for God. But I don’t know if that can be found in any of our Bible Colleges’ current text books.