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“Where the Remnant Comes to Train”
In my last article I touched on the following subject:
• The call to ministry is a call to a lifetime of study.
• Lack of transformation in the traditional Greco-Roman based educational model.
• Abuses in nontraditional education:
• Abuse of issuing unrealistic life experience credits.
• Abuse of improper course examinations (i.e., open book exams).
• Abuse of so watering down the educational process that no thesis or dissertation is required at the Master’s and Doctoral levels.
• How proper education should provide the research & study tools you will use the rest of your life.
With all of that said, let’s move on to the subject of this bulletin. We all should be familiar with the call to ministry. If you are not, the first thing I would ask you is: “Why are you looking to study for the ministry?” It is a calling where you know in the very depths of your heart that God has called you to one of the fivefold offices of ministry listed in Ephesians 4. You can run from it, but you can’t hide from it. It is in your heart and in your blood. You know that if you do not follow after the call and prepare for it that you will be miserable and miss God’s best in your life.
I have been involved in nontraditional education now for nearly a quarter of a century. Like the country singer used to sing, “I was country when country wasn’t cool.” Well, I was involved in theological education by extension (TEE) when it wasn’t cool either! In the early `80’s, we were pioneering many of the standards that are now common place in TEE. I said all that to say this, I have been around the block in training ministers for effective ministry. You need to realize that not only do you have a call to ministry, but you have a call to a specific school that you are to study with as well!
You need to realize that each school is different. God has placed certain emphases within each school. I am not talking about denominational differences either – although that can be a consideration for you. Each school will speak into your life in different ways and will give you different tools and paradigms for ministry. One school will have a set of tools and paradigms that you will need while another will not. This is not a matter of accreditation or cost. It is a matter of what the school speaks into your life. What makes this harder to realize is that you cannot always tell it from just looking at courses listed for a particular program or degree. There is an anointing and a spirit or attitude about each school that is imparted to their students. Unfortunately, in many traditional schools, the only spirit or attitude passed on is one of haughtiness and superiority.
Here are some steps to make the right choice:
1. PRAY. Ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you begin looking at schools and requesting catalogs. Does the Holy Spirit witness to you that you should look further into this school? Does the website information agree with your spirit?
2. Get the catalogs. If you feel the witnessing of the Holy Spirit about a particular school, request or download the catalog. If you download it, take the time to print it out.
3. Prayerfully read over the catalogs. Look for the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you read over them. He is trying to help you narrow the list of schools. You should have two piles of catalogs now – (1) the “no witness” pile and (2) the “Spirit-felt witness” pile.
4. Go back to the website. See if they have bulletins, articles, newsletters and samples of their courses on-line. See if they have some sample course lectures in MP3 or real audio stream. Read over the articles, sample lessons and listen to the sample lectures.
Now stop right here. What are you looking for: easy courses - something you can complete quickly? If you are, you need to go back to Mark 11 and learn the lesson of why Jesus cursed the fig tree. You need to look for materials that speak to your heart, that add something substantial to your spirit man, and that call for personal transformation. If the Holy Spirit is already speaking to you through the samples, how much more will He speak and transform your life through the complete program!
You will find articles, sample lessons and MP3 lectures at two locations on our website. (www.biblical-life.com)
Take the time to download everything you can there. (For the MP3 files, DSL will help.) Read through them, listen to them and seek the face of God while you are doing it.
5. Pick the right school & count the cost. Once you have found the school that is witnessed most by the Holy Spirit and their literature and samples speak most to your life, you are ready to count the cost. Now I am not just talking about the financial investment you are getting ready to make. That is important, and Jesus warns us to consider this before beginning such an endeavor (Luke 14:28-30). More than the financial investment, I am talking about several other things you must invest just as much of:
You must be willing to roll up your sleeves and invest these things too. Without them, you will never graduate. You also need to realize another important truth. Are you ready?
The level of determination, discipline, prayer and time you invest in this call of preparation is the same level you will have in actually “doing” the ministry. If you can’t get it right here, you likely will not develop it once you are in full-time ministry! When you are ordained or installed as a Pastor, there is no super anointing that drives these things into your life. They are cultivated from the time you answer the call, and they are matured through the preparation process. So don’t drop the ball once you enroll. Make a schedule for prayer and study. Keep at it day after day – whether it is convenient or not (the devil will make sure it is never convenient). Take the time and do not let anything else steal that time from you. Make every study session count for the Kingdom.
6. Make application to the school that the Holy Spirit has led you to. Don’t sit on it, take action and follow the leading and peace of the Holy Spirit.
7. Get your materials, make your plan of action, make your schedule and begin growing. Your life and the lives of those you minister to will never be the same!
BLCS has an emphasis on “where the rubber meets the road” theology. The Word is meant to be lived, not debated. We also place great emphasis on being Spirit-Filled and a balanced understanding of our Hebraic heritage. This may or may not be right for you. What you do need to know is unless you have taken the steps I have outlined here, you may pick the wrong school. One thing that you need to lay aside in this journey is the attitude that you are shopping at some super store. It is not how cheap you can get the education or how quickly. Both may in the end lead you down the wrong path. Where is the Holy Spirit leading you? What school will place the most spiritual truths and biblical transformations into your life? These are the right questions to ask that will lead you to the school Almighty God has called you to study with!
If you are called to study with BLCS, it will be my greatest pleasure to welcome you as a new member of our student family. If God is calling you to another school, I ask that God would give you the grace and wisdom to find that school and to enroll.
Copyright 2008 by Michael K. Lake, Th.D.
Michael K. Lake, Th.D., D.R.E.
Dr. Lake is the Chancellor and Founder of Biblical Life College and Seminary. He is an Internationally respected authority on nontraditional theological education, educator, author, and serves as a Bishop on the International Board of Directors for the Restoration Fellowship International.