Pastoral Practice

What they did not teach you in Theological College

It may seem presumptuous to title a book “What they did not teach you in theological college.” But this is based on the writer’s experience as a student in three colleges and a lecturer in two more, plus conversations with many other pastors. Of course, some of these matters may have been dealt with in some colleges, but it is doubtful if all have been dealt with in all theological colleges. So in all probability most men new to the pastorate will find something of assistance to them. There are available, of course, various excellent books on Pastoral Ministry. But many of these matters are not covered in standard text books.

There are several reasons why these practical matters may not have been dealt with in a theological college.

In the first place, the emphasis today is on academic achievement, which is very commendable and necessary, so there is little space in the timetable for such matters. Lecturers have to cover their subjects adequately and the students have to prepare diligently for the University examinations, so there is no time for such practical tips.

Secondly, some, but by no means all, lecturers in theological colleges have had little or no practical experience of the pastorate, and so would be unlikely to deal with these subjects. This is not intended as a criticism, but simply a statement of fact. Some men are brilliant in their academic work, but just have not fitted into the pastoral scene, or have not had a call to the pastorate. Others have gone straight from a brilliant career as a student to a brilliant career as a lecturer.

Finally, it is normally not until a man finds himself in the pastorate that he realizes that there are gaps in his training. It is the prayer of the writer that these practical suggestions will help to fill those gaps.

Two disclaimers need to be issued: one is that there is no claim that all of these items are original; the other is that in many cases there are other ways of dealing with these issues. It is by no means suggested that what is offered is only way to carry out the various functions listed. But they have been tried, tested and proved to be effective over many years. And some of them apply only to the UK.

Stanley Jebb.


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