MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Ministers or pastors start with a calling. The University of Mobile has a focus on that. President Dr. Lonnie Burnett is here to talk about that. What is the center for Christian calling?
Guest: Focus on three things: first of all, the students are called to Christ, that’s the most basic the Christian worldview, the Christian theology. Then they’re called to ministry and then they’re called to leadership, it’s a progression through our program. Calling is more of a practical ministry we’re looking at.
Anchor: Why focus on this?
Guest: It seems like students when they graduate they’re 21, 22 years old. They have a very sound theological background, strong sermon prep things like that but there are practical things, for example, how do you handle a budget, how do you handle grief counseling, how do you handle angry deacon meetings if those things exist, how do you handle problems in the church you may not be expecting.
Anchor: That’s interesting to bring up, your theological backing is strong once you’re out of school. How do you teach human lessons and those practical ministry skills?
Guest: That’s where internships come in handy, what I want to do is get our students into the churches. Internships I want them to see what goes on behind the scenes. We all know what a pastor does on Sunday mornings but it’s such a detailed and stressful job, what goes on Monday through Friday is a big part of ministry, I want to make sure students know what pastors do. Running the church is not just Sunday morning preaching but you’ve got to run the church but you have to be a CEO so to speak of that church.
Chad: Pastors fresh out of seminary have strong backgrounds in theology but the hard work of ministry comes in the form of practical skills, like just making frequent hospital visits
Guest: It’s things like how to do a funeral, how do I handle staff members, what if an angry parishioner comes to you with a complaint how do you handle that? A pastor’s work is never done. I want to make sure students know what they’re getting into. When we train teachers they do student teaching for months before going to a classroom I want to see pastors with the same kind of training. Internships, behind the scenes, work
Chad: Have you seen people who aim to be pastors but get scared out of it when they realize what the ancillary duties are.
Guest: I think some will but I hope they don’t. I know in teaching some student teachers right away say “this is not me”. A call from Christ is different. You’ve got a calling to be a pastor. It’s not so much to scare them off but just to make sure they know there’s a lot more to it than just preaching on Sunday morning
Chad: talking about the calling, how does someone know if they have it?
Guest: I believe there’s a distinct calling you know that’s your passion you know God’s got a mission for you, we’re not all called to be pastors but a pastor is a special Biblical calling not everyone can do that, it’s a calling from God
Chad: Are there less practical skills for today’s ministers?
Guest: That’s tough, there are different skills for different settings. If you’re in a missionary field, we’ve got folks called to be teachers of the gospel that’s a different skill set than a missionary or pastor of a local church.