Today our church convened a Vicinage Council to appraise the gifts and calling of a young man for the US Navy Chaplaincy. A diverse group of pastors, chaplains and seminary professors gathered to ask some challenging questions after the reading of the candidate's ordination paper, an overview of his theological positions and pastoral vision.
It is a wonderful thing when a local church can participate in the preparation of future clergy. We've been investing in our time to mentor and encourage two young men training for ministry. The Army used to have a slogan, "We don't ask for experience, we give it." I am convinced that this future chaplain will be better equipped to serve effectively in the Navy and manage to meet the unique challenges of military ministry.
Churches that are near seminaries should open their doors to seminarians and offer them an opportunity to learn by doing. Pastors should take the time to teach the skills that seminaries often don't cover. I think back on my seminary days; I learned theology but when called on to conduct my first funeral, I had no preparation whatsoever. I want to make sure this doesn't happen to others.
Being a mentor is an important work. The Apostle Paul was careful to develop Timothy, and seasoned clergy should be generous with sharing the wisdom of their experience to the next generation of clergy, to the glory of God