Believing myself called to Christian ministry, I returned from the foreign mission field in 2007 ready to pursue further ministry training. I had assumed I would be going to a large, denominationally-run seminary which has a reputation for training thoughtful, doctrinally-correct ministers. I assumed this was the only way that a young man who cared about being doctrinally precise could adequately prepare to serve the church. Finding myself attending Heritage Baptist Church, Owensboro, KY, I was somewhat skeptical of their small ministerial training school. However, after becoming more familiar with the program of study at the Midwest Center, I began to consider it an option. I realized that I knew of all the men on the faculty and that these men had been used mightily of God both in local church ministry as well as in more academic theological pursuits.
I was sold after I caught the vision of completing my education in the context of a local church setting. As I began to think about it, I realized that training in a small, local church setting has definite advantages. A common pitfall for some seminarians is to disconnect from a local church body. Even those who faithfully attend and serve in a local church setting don’t benefit from an organic connection like I have at MCTS.
My two main MCTS professors, Drs. Waldron and Barcellos, are also my pastors. These men teach me the skills needed to carefully exegete the Scriptures as well as the theology of Christian Orthodoxy. In addition, my theological education is organically connected to a local church body. My professors are greatly concerned that their students not be just well-informed, but that they would be men qualified according to 1 Timothy 3. As my pastors, my professors get to see me serving the body and evaluate my gifts and fitness for ministry over a significant period of time.
However, my professors are not handing down a “cold, dead orthodoxy.” MCTS’s motto is “Informed Scholarship with Pastoral Heart” and that is what I have seen from these men. My professors have invited me into their lives and I have seen men who have a great burden and love for the sheep given to them by God. My professors are always careful to remind us that the purpose of our studies is to know God better in order to make Him better known, with the ultimate goal of helping to fulfill the Great Commission.
Through Pastoral Mentoring, monthly Table Talk sessions, and accompanying the pastors as they minister to the congregation, MCTS students get an up close look at the “nuts and bolts” of local church ministry. The small size of MCTS that I looked upon with suspicion before has become the greatest benefit of my education so far!
In addition to all of these benefits, MCTS hosts guest professors and lecturers who are among the leaders of Reformed Christianity. I have had wonderful opportunities to sit under the teaching of some of the best Reformed minds today. Through godly and brilliant pastor/professors, as well as leading guest professors, I feel confident that I am being well-prepared for ministry in a local church.