Preparing for Christian Ministry—An Evangelical Approach grew out of the faculty’s perceived need for a new textbook in ministry formation for the classes at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Twenty-two authors, all current or former teachers at Southern Seminary, join the two editors, also on the faculty there, in discussing a wide-range of ministry topics.
The book, designed to be used not only in Baptist but Evangelical seminaries and colleges as well, includes some chapters that are theoretical and academic in tone along with others that address practical issues for seminarians. Each includes a helpful bibliography for further reading.
Each contribution stands alone, and the only connecting strand is the editors’ informal compilation of the various chapters into four sections: Transitions into Community, Personal Formation and Calling for Ministry, Professional Formation and Tasks of Ministry, and Global Formation and Contemporary Issues in Ministry.
Most seminaries today offer programs of spiritual formation, involving covenant groups and accountability, as the primary focus of ministry formation. Besides the two contributions on spiritual gifts and personhood, this book has only one chapter dealing with spiritual development. In light of the urgency of spirituality in the life of the minister and the church, the book would be stronger if more attention were given to the topic.
Considering the scarcity of evangelical books offering a broad introduction to Christian ministry, even though its primary target is Baptist seminarians, this volume is a welcomed resource.
Feeding the Fire
Two paths can be taken upon arrival [at a seminary]. One path involves the loss of that fire, that commitment, that sense of call, that desire to be equipped to win the world to Christ. No one comes here seeking to go down that path, but some travel it.... The other path is the one we hope you will take. That path involves an intensification through training of the fire, passion, commitment, calling, and desire to be equipped with which you arrived.
—from Preparing for Christian Ministry—An Evangelical Approach