I intended by earlier post about books to be followed by one
which listed five books that every Baptist Minister should read. But I can’t decide
what should be on the list not least because no book is so important that every
minister should read it.
There is a certain baseline of knowledge that every minister
should have but beyond that we need ministers with a variety of gifts, skills
and knowledge. Ministers whose interest is in areas like the interface of
science and religion, justice in society, medical ethics and so much more;
ministers whose gifts are not primarily intellectual but practical, seeking to
serve for the kingdom of God; ministers who can be a spiritual presence in
So what sort of baseline knowledge is essential?
- A good grasp of Scripture: the story of Israel,
overview of the gospels and Paul’s missionary journeys. Understanding of the
nature of different types of text. Ability to use and understand commentaries.
- An understanding of the key Christian doctrines, the context
in which they were formed and the major controversies that have arisen.
- Overview of Church history, not just in Western
Europe but in the spread of Christianity across the globe.
- Denominational appreciation. How Baptist Churches came to
be, what makes Baptists distinct as well as those aspects which they share with
- Ministry today. Some knowledge of the key questions about
the nature of ministry: who or what is a minister?
- Mission today.
An appreciation of the landscape of society and the cultural changes that are
taking place. An ability to make connections between faith, the issues in
people’s lives and the major global challenges.
All of that. A grasp of how doctrine and ethics are woven together and ethics arises from doctrine or at least has implications for doctrine.
You surprise me Andy adn Neil… no comment on how worship shapes ethics and doctrine and vice versa … given that many people see us workig only on a Sunday and in the context of worship some knowledge of what we are about in that would seem to be vital too.
Jesus? And how to try to be like him???
How to look after yourself and not get burntout?
And some basic pastoral skills?
I’m not arguing against academic knowledge and doctrine, just that surely how we model Jesus alters how seriously anyone will listen when we preach?
Thanks all: I did think about mentioning worship but went for the shorter, knowledge based, list. I would want to argue that any consideration of doctrine is an engagement with ethics and with worship. If doctrine is parsed as the questions ‘what kind of God’ and ‘so what?’ then the answer is always a mixture of ethics and worship.
Helen is also right to point in these other areas; I’m making a poor attempt at following Jesus and am hopeless at the others.