Accelerate Your Ministry Training
For those called to ministry, Spurgeon College and Midwestern Seminary offer a dual-degree program that allows students to earn their Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree (MDiv; MA, Biblical Counseling; or MA, Christian Education) in 5 years. Learn more about Accelerate here.
On the last day, we will be held accountable for how we have utilized the resources and gifts our Lord provides us—money, time, talents, relationships, and more. Disciples of Jesus are called by our Lord to leverage our resources and gifts with diligence, wisdom, and risk-taking faith in order to expand His kingdom and showcase His glory. As we do, we are spurred on by the hope of hearing our Master tell us on that last day, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21, ESV).
For those aspiring to church leadership, this call to accountability and stewardship should transform how we train for ministry. Many sensing a call toward church leadership recognize the value of a Bible college or seminary education. While aspiring leaders have many different options for theological education in front of them, there are certain principles that every aspiring leader should seek to live out during their season of theological training and formation. Here are four God-given resources that aspiring church leaders should focus on leveraging during their season of ministry training.
Leverage Your Mind
Speaking to a group of seminarians in 1911, Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield exhorted, “Say what you will, do what you will, the ministry is a ‘learned profession’; and the man without learning, no matter with what other gifts he may be endowed, is unfit for its duties.” Amid all the opportunities and responsibilities that one’s season in Bible college or seminary may bring, it is vital that aspiring leaders remember their special vocation as a student. Bible college and seminary are special seasons to develop the habits, disciplines, instincts, and foundational convictions of a lifelong student of God’s Word. In a seminary setting, your hope is to learn an immense amount about God, His Word, and His people in a short amount of time. This is 3 to 5 years of training meant to equip you for the next 30 to 50 years of service. In that short period of time, you cannot learn everything you will need to know about souls and Scripture. But you can develop the foundational habits of study that will shape you for decades of service to God’s people.
Even as you study (and study… and study some more), it is important that you remember the ultimate goal of your study. Warfield warns against pitting your study against your devotional life: “Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must [turn] from your books in order to turn to God? If learning and devotion are as antagonistic as that, then the intellectual life is in itself accursed and there can be no question of a religious life for a student, even of theology.” The truth is that what we don’t know about God, we cannot worship Him for. And the goal of theological training is not degrees, it is doxology. As aspiring ministry leaders leverage their minds, they must recognize that they do so not for human applause or any temporal gain, but so that they can know, delight in, and serve the God of their salvation.
Leverage Your Relationships
Aspiring ministry leaders should not only be concerned with what course of study they are committing themselves to, but also what type of community they are committing themselves to. Perhaps the most impactful aspect of residential study in particular is the number of deep relationships that students develop with fellow classmates and faculty members. It behooves those training for ministry to find a school and a program where fellow learners and mentors can become lifelong partners in ministry.
Leverage Your Time
The Apostle Paul exhorts believers in Ephesians 5:16 to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” This is not a law-fueled burden to maximize every waking moment by the standards of modern “productivity” or “efficiency.” Instead, it is a call for believers to prayerfully and prudently use their one non-renewable resource. Aspiring leaders, then, should seek out theological training pathways that avoid redundancy and accelerate the attainment of key competencies in Biblical exegesis, theology, preaching/teaching, counseling, evangelism, and more.
Leverage Your Finances
Jesus’ words in Luke 14:28 are binding for those looking to commit to formal ministry training: “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?” Aspiring leaders should look to find affordable programs, and work to avoid large amounts of debt. As you leave your season of training and embark on a lifetime of ministry, financial freedom and well-formed habits of frugality will allow you to serve the church with greater effectiveness and joy.
Accelerate Your Ministry Training
Over the past years, I have had the privilege of watching these principles of stewardship play out in the lives of students as I have led the Accelerate program at Spurgeon College & Midwestern Seminary. Accelerate is a dual-degree program that allows students to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years. These students—both on-campus in Kansas City and around the globe—have chosen a path of academic and spiritual formation that allows them to leverage their mind, relationships, time, and finances with wisdom and intentionality. Whatever path an aspiring ministry leader might pursue, the calling remains the same for everyone. Leverage everything that’s been given to you for the glory of God and the good of others! And do so with the hope of that last day in mind, when you will hear your Lord welcome you into an eternity of joy in His presence.
 B.B. Warfield, The Religious Life of Theological Students