Can You Be a Pastor Without Academic Training? Biblically / Historically
When God Calls a Person to Pastor / Preach / Evangelize – it is coming from God and he will provide the instruction and people that that person needs to exercise that God-Given gift. God has not put that credential on this gift. Schools are there to help a person sharpen his education in this Area of Service.
There are many believers who have the calling to be a pastor and don’t know how to go about actualizing it. They wonder if they can become a pastor without going to seminary because the call upon their life is so strong. In this article, I will shed light on the above question based on the Scriptures.
God has given us answers in the Bible to help us with the callings He has given us to advance His Kingdom on earth.
Let’s Start From the Beginning.
“But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers.” Ephesians 4:7-11
Jesus gave His people spiritual gifts, including the spiritual gift of being a pastor and this is not dependent on going to seminary or any Bible college. The gifts listed in the above Bible verses are ministries that are given to believers and they are at the church leadership level.
The ministries of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and the teacher are collectively known as the five-fold ministry gifts. God gives these gifts to those He wants to provide leadership to the church and help His people grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.
The gift of the pastor together with the others is to build up the body of Christ as we see in Ephesians 4:12-13, “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
This proves that they are gifts of leadership and the ones given these gifts are those who lead churches or start their own ministries. There are many pastors and preachers today who have successful ministries and never went to seminary or Bible college. You will also find those who did and are also doing great things for God’s people.
Can you be a Pastor Without Formal Education?
When God gives you the gift of being a pastor, you are one. Going to seminary is meant to teach a person how to exercise their pastoral gift. Many churches will require a pastor to have attended seminary, but not all.
Some churches opt to have an in-house training program for those desiring to become pastors in their church. They come up with a course that takes into consideration their denominational doctrine and raises pastors who understand how they conduct ministry.
If you sense that you have a calling as a pastor, you need to know that different churches have different ways of ordaining pastors before they allow them to preach.
Ask God to guide you to the church that He wants you to pastor, and find out how you can be on the pastoral team. Even those who go to seminary and want to become a pastor in a particular church may have to go through their training program.
If a pastor is experienced, a church may opt to have its elders interview the person to ascertain whether they understand the foundations of the Christian faith as well as how to interpret the Scriptures.
Paul made it clear that he was an apostle not sent from men, or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father. He went ahead to preach the gospel to the Gentiles without requiring the approval of the apostles who were there before him.
The revelation of his calling came from God and as soon as he received it, he began preaching the Gospel. You can read the passage on his calling in Galatians 1:11-17.
Starting your Ministry or Working Under One
As much as you have the calling to become a pastor, it is wise to find out from God whether He is calling you to start your own ministry or work under one. This is important because you want to remain in the will of God at all times.
Many people mistakenly assume that when God calls them to become a pastor, it means starting their own ministry. This is not true.
If you feel like God is leading you to a particular ministry and you have to undergo some kind of training, then you can go ahead and do so. You may want to be preaching on Sundays but God has to prepare you for the pastoral calling in different ways. Not all pastors start on the pulpit, but eventually, all of them get there. Find out the path that God wants you to take.
The desire to step into the pulpit may be burning in your heart, but pray for wisdom. Don’t get ahead of yourself because you might make mistakes due to a lack of preparation and maturity in your calling. Even where God is asking you to start your own ministry, start by praying about it and seeking God for direction. You can speak to a trusted pastor to give you words of wisdom, and to share with you their experience.
When I was 12 years old I felt the calling to preach. That was seen by our Elders and I preached my first sermon at that time. I am sure that it was challenging for our adult audience. But I remember to this day it was on Ephesians 4: 1-6
That Calling led me to seek to further train myself. Through Personel study, through Preacher and Missionary Training Programs
- Dedicated Bible Training
- Many Outreach Programs to experience
- Experience of Qualified Mentors that share a Wealth of Experience
- Give you training in the original Languages
- If Going to established work – Many Leaderships require prior training
- Training From Men that Have pastored Churches
- Training from Missionaries
- Training for Spouses
- Colleges, Universities, Seminaries, Large Churches have Great Programs
- Spiritual Gifts can be tailored to the specific demonization
- Reliance more on Men’s Leading Than God’s Leading
- Financial Cost Involved
- The time that is involved to graduate – Less time preaching
Paul and Timothy, Paul was training Timothy in the same way. Taken a young minister under his wing and train ing him personally in the work that was befor him.
Jesus Taught his 12 by Apprenticeship. Jesus gathered up his disciples and trained them for the largest mission on earth, for all time and trained them by apprentceship
Old Testament / School of Prophets
(I Samuel 19: 18-24) a group of young prophet trainees that worshiped, prayed, asking God for Wisdom together. The Prophet Samuel was training them.
Mentoring By Prophet Samuel
“When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.
23So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Jewish Schools 1st Century
Paul’s Training at Feet Gamaliel. Paul was a servant Jew before his conversion. Paul was taught at the feet of Gamaliel. Gamaliel taught from 22Ad – 55Ad. Hev was a Pharisee and he studied from the teachings of a Grat Jewish Teacher Hillel. After his conversion, Paul had the foundation of his bedrock studies of the Old Testament to support his Conversion to their fulfillment in Jesus (Acts 22: 3-5)
(Acts 5:29-39) Gamaliels wise advice to the jewish leaders. “
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
God will not give you the pastoral gift and not give you a way of using it. He is the God who makes a way where there seems to be none (Isaiah 43:19) and He will show you the way. Others will give you advice based on their experiences and what normally happens, but remember that the word God gives you is the one you should go with. He knows the unique path that you are to take as you fulfill your calling as a pastor.