Monday, April 02, 2007

Kansas: Baptist says Jerry Johnston shows the church needs to change

By Diane Silver

I didn't say that the Rev. Jerry Johnston's secretive financial practices are proof of the need for change, but Dr. Jim West, a Baptist pastor and historian did.

After noting that the Southern Baptists are one of the few denominations where a person can be a pastor without any formal training, West argues that Johnston is a good example of why that policy should be changed. Johnston is a high school dropout who has yet to finish a bachelor's degree or a seminary program,* but he is pastor of the First Family Church, megaplex in Overland Park, Kan. (FYI, the emphasis is mine.)

Maybe it’s time that the SBC (Southern Baptist Church) adopt a policy that ordination requires at the very least a college diploma and then a few years from now a Master’s Degree. The SBC already has lots of requirements for participating churches (mostly having to do with finances)- so if it can require financial participation it can also require education.

If it doesn’t, members will continue to be taken advantage of by ill informed, ignorant leaders who are in the ministry, frankly, because they are too lazy to do anything else (include learn).

Meanwhile, Keith D. Herron, senior pastor at Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., writes about Johnston's habit of keeping the financial books closed:
Churches cannot be healthy where secrets abound and refusing to answer the hard questions has the appearance of being its own answer.
*Johnston says he will complete a BA in Biblical Studies this spring. He got his high school diploma through a GED exam.


Richard L Zorek said...

Jesus, the apostle Paul, Timothy, John the baptist, to name just a few, are some great preachers who never had a college degree. I find it unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

I agree. If God calls someone, he calls someone. We should equip ourselves appropriately. Seminary and a degree may not be the best option. Seminaries have agendas and spins based on their denomination funding. I would rather have a man of God that knew the Word of God inside and out, without a seminary education, with the appropriate deacons, etc handling the operational management of the church. the pastor should keep his hands, eyes and ears from the books/money.

People equate the pastoral role with a company owner or president. This is what American society has done to the church. The government has made it so churches have board of directors in place of deacons.