I know of SEVERAL churches in Alabama that take pride that their staff is not seminary-trained. They love the idea that no one on staff has a seminary education but is simply led by the Holy Spirit. I can partially understand what they mean; however, what I find hypocritical is that while they put down the EDUCATIONAL pursuit of learning more about God and His Word and how to live by His Spirit in seminary, they elevate the EDUCATIONAL pursuit of psychology as they REFER out all of their counseling. In other words, they do not put down education in other areas of life so why put it down in the pursuit of the knowledge of God?
What also happens is that these churches do not counsel (disciple) their own people and say things like: “We are not equipped to deal with those problems. The church really should not be counseling people. That’s for the experts,” they often say.
To which I respond emphatically, “No! It’s the body of Christ’s job to disciple people which includes the subset of biblical, not psychological, counseling – though biblical counseling always deals with the psychological state of man (remember that psychology means “the study of the soul” which is what the church does, right?!?!).”
So my point in this blog is simply this – why brag that your church staff is NOT seminar-trained as though that type of education is not necessary BUT then refer out members of the church to “secularly-educated” licensed professional counselors (LPC), Christian psychologists, or even SECULAR counselors who pursued EDUCATIONAL training and fail to SHEPHERD (I Peter 5) the flock of God in His church? It is hypocritical to elevate education in one area but not in another. It is a failure to shepherd God’s children and He is NOT pleased with it and no excuse will suffice. Education and training are available. What is lacking is a willingness to shepherd and disciple God’s children.
These same churches still send people to medical doctors, lawyers, and other specially trained and EDUCATED professionals so why not champion those men and women who are seminarily-trained and EDUCATED in the Word of God and live by His Spirit? Seems hypocritical again…
For some reason, God’s children have believed the deception that counseling is for the experts and not the body of Christ in local churches. “We don’t have the training for counseling,” they say. Yet some churches don’t seek the seminary training available to them to shepherd God’s people. It’s a grievous sin for which they will answer to the Lord one day.
So, I urge you. Get training in biblical counseling and start helping those in your local church. Teach them the Word of God applied to their lives so they can become “doers” of the Word and not just hearers only (James 1:22). And don’t put down seminary education. That’s just wrong, hypocritical, and immature. Seminary is not the answer, Christ is. But those who are going to seminary are often wanting to know God (John 17:3) and His Word more deeply SO THAT they can better serve hurting souls. I know that’s true of the seminary students I have been privileged to meet at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Birmingham, AL.
At the root, it’s a pride issue in these churches. I think God uses BOTH the untrained and the trained for His own glory. Let’s not put one down or the other!
-Mark (just a little weary of pride and hypocrisy in God’s people, especially in me, also!)