Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Situation Critical

I once lived briefly in a military town that had fighter jets flying over all the time. When I first got there I found it rather exciting to see. After a while, it just became an annoying noise.

But I did notice that the jets would often do the same maneuvers over and over. I once asked an ex-military friend of mine what they were doing all the time.

My friend told me that they often play out war-time scenarios. They repeatedly practice what they need to do in real situations so that when the time comes, they'll be ready. The soldiers, airmen and seamen don't just understand the theory of what needs to be done--they train themselves by doing it over and over and over until they get it right--before they ever have to do it for real.

Could you imagine sending soldiers out to defend our country who have never trained, but who have only studied military philosophy in the classroom? Would you be very confident that they could protect us? Would you have much faith in their ability to defeat the enemy?

This is exactly what most of our seminaries and theological training institutions do--we send out Christian ministers to jump into the spiritual battle that is life who have primarily been trained academically. We make the assumption that Christian ministry is a primarily academic endeavor.


But the military training my friend told me about goes beyond just practicing war games over and over. Instead, they create the most critical situations possible for the young men and women to handle. In fact, they make the scenarios ten times more difficult than they would ever encounter in real warfare. What effect does this have? Well, when the real warfare comes around--it seems almost EASY!

I'm not sure how we would could apply this principle for Christian training and create "scenarios" that are more difficult than what we would face in real life without it being rather hokey. But I like the concept. I like the concept of being trained and prepared by repeated practice rather than simple theoretical instruction.

What do you think? What are some "out of the box" ways we could prepare Christian workers for ministry by applying this type of training technique? What are some ways we can prepare young people for ministry that aren't primarily academic?


  1. Very good analogy. I can't come up with a training scenario at this moment, but a great idea and point to consider. Thanks.

  2. I would propose more mentorship. I have been guided often by more experienced Christian men as I did ministry to the military in San is this training that helped me reach out to sailors on my ship. I really think that is a key. It would be hard for a seminary to provide this, but I think it is vital.

  3. I didn't do a typical 4-year college. Most of my business training came from starting at the bottom and moving up to the top. While I'm not downplaying college (I push college because employers want that on a resume), I don't think classroom life necessarily prepares you for real life. In fact, real life is pretty much what qualifies one to deal with real life.

    I guess that wasn't much of an idea...more of an observation.