Philosophy of Ministry

Philosophy of Ministry

SVS desires to train men to shepherd the church of Jesus Christ in North India (and beyond). Fulfilling the Great Commission means training men who will lead churches that love the gospel and take it to others, that is, churches that want to start other churches. We want these men to have a passion for and invest heavily in the local church while also having a passion for evangelism and making disciples of the lost.

This sort of intensive training must necessarily be done in the context of the local church. Far more ministry is learned by absorption and observation than by lecture and lexicon. Yet raising up pastors in the Indian context also requires some formal education. Future pastors must have a thorough and robust theological understanding, equipping them to teach the Word with excellence and to understand the world around them. They must biblically evaluate the different worldviews, philosophies, and ideas around them and should they engage the world with the light of the gospel.

Pastoring is joyful and hard work. Our men must be lifelong learners since most will not be in the churched megacities, have access to massive libraries, or be surrounded by scores of like-minded men. They must be grounded in the Word if they are to persevere to the end. Church-based training necessarily requires hard labour, with all serving equally in the menial and mundane. “Real-life” ministry begins before graduation, not after, so that our students are not caught unaware as to how to plant, lead, or shepherd the people of their church.

Finally, the hallmarks of a pastor are godliness and integrity. An effective pastor is unabashedly godly, loving holiness, and being above reproach. We train men who already exhibit servant leadership and cultivate lives of fierce humility and gentle confidence.

As their formal training comes to a conclusion, these men should be ready to pastor. Men thus trained in the heart of the local church should be confirmed by the same. Therefore, the elders of the local church should be able to affirm these men as elder-qualified and elder-skilled. The confirmation of their calling (The affirmation of their desire on the basis of gifts and character), gifts and character should come from their local church, as would be attested by a letter of recommendation for all graduates.

Ministry Calling and the Local Church

Because the seminary training being undertaken is within the context of the church for the benefit of the church, then, in general, the costs for this education should be borne by the church. This returns the local church to the center of a prospective pastor’s life and removes from our churches the dangerous mentality of the “hireling” professional or that a ministry degree necessarily qualifies a person to do ministry.

Studying for the ministry is not like studying dentistry, maths, or engineering. With other such callings, a person who has the intelligence, money, and willingness to work, can achieve success. Such a person may pursue an education for any number of personal reasons that glorify God and bless His people, but that remain largely personal or familial.

Ministry is different. Preparation for it should not be approached the same way. Of course, the individual should understand himself to be called, but this by itself is not sufficient. The local church, which will be the beneficiary of the seminary training, should be involved in the decision to train someone for the ministry. Men should not be preparing for the ministry unless there is good reason to believe that they have the gifts, character, and calling for that ministry. This understanding should be shared by others in the church, and particularly by the leaders of the church. Many young men, zealous for ministry or uncertain about the direction of their lives, have been misled into thinking that a desire for ministry or a Christian job is an adequate substitute for ability, character, and call. The church that supports the student should testify that she believes he is called to the work of ministry. The church’s testimony of support will be expressed by paying for books or helping with living expenses. This will not be done unless the churches in question have a good understanding of the student’s character and ability.