On Thursdays before noon, a special group gathers together in the Dale Horton Auditorium. Before their class begins, they’ll pray, sing a hymn and a special chorus, and then start adding insightful notes to an ever-growing collection they’ll be referring back to for years to come.
The young men preparing for ministry take Ministerial Seminar (PR 101–402), consisting of a lab and a lecture hour, each semester. The class is designed to enrich and develop the students’ background for Christian service, to provide practical ministry training, and to give them the opportunity to learn under experienced men of God. They also vote on their own class president, vice president, and song leader.
Each year, these men have been able to sharpen their skills in a new area or build up on a previous lesson, preparing them to be used of God in the capacity He has called them to. “You get to sit down and glean from the wisdom of men who are years ahead down the road you’re on. You get many different preachers from different backgrounds, areas, and ages telling you the same thing from different angles. It teaches you to consider more options and seek counsel,” said Chris Montgomery (Sr., TN). “This class has by far been the most helpful class in preparing me for future ministry, strengthening my current ministries, and strengthening my walk with God.”
“This class is definitely unique to PCC,” said Andrew Butner (Sr., NC), a transfer student from a Bible college. “Many other schools only offer homiletic classes to practice preaching. In lecture, Ministerial Seminar is a class where we, preachers in training, can glean the wisdom of other men in ministry and pastoral positions. This class has allowed me to see the reality of ministry. Internet, social media, etc., make ministry always look perfect, and at times, it is; however, ministry is also very hard.”
Andrew’s experience in the class has been greatly enhanced by the guest pastors who have spoken in ministerial lecture, such as Kurt Skelly, Greg Mutsch, Raymond Barber, Cary Schmidt, and Dave Goforth. “When Adrian Burden preached ‘Judge Not,’ I got a perspective of ministry I have never seen because of my race,” he said. “Because God has ordained from Creation one race and one blood, racism must not be a part of ministry and/or the church, both the local assembly and body of Christ.”
Evangelist Adrian Burden has felt honored and humbled by the invitation to return as a guest speaker over the years. “The contagious spiritual energy of Ministerial Seminar allowed me to be in a spiritual greenhouse of training, thereby equipping me with the proper and practical tools to carry out what God had already called me to do,” he explained. “Speaking to the men [now as a guest speaker] breeds accountability within myself. The follow-up conversations I’ve had with guys makes me take an even deeper look into myself spiritually. The questions were so transparently raw that it was incredibly refreshing to sense such a maturity among the new generation of leaders.”
Dr. Dan Troutman of the Bible faculty instructs a ministerial lab on Tuesdays, which counterparts Thursday’s lecture hour. “While the lectures are practical in a broad range of potential ministries, the labs are primarily focused on preaching and presenting the Word of God to an audience,” he said. “Labs are more ‘hands on.’ These are focused on specific preaching skills, and the men benefit from the experience of faculty who share biblical truth ‘for a living.’”
As their college career progresses, many of the ministerial men can put what they learned in the classroom into practice in the church. “We go to every Campus Church ministry to observe in order to see what it would take to run a big ministry,” said Chase Williams (Sr., GA). “Then we intern in one of the ministries the following semester. We study all the styles of preaching and pros and cons of each. One of the best [practical lessons] was on church planting. For the entire semester, we learned from men who knew what they’re talking about on how to plant a church from start to end.”
“One of the best things has been connections I have made in this class,” Chase continued. “Often I was able to get contact information for some of the speakers and ask them questions on something either regarding what they spoke on or something totally different. It has and will continue to be a huge help in future ministry.”
This semester, the seniors of Ministerial Seminar spent an hour of their class time in the Swim Center with Dr. Jeff Redlin, Campus Church pastor. There, he went over the mechanics of baptism. After sharing a few mishaps of his own and showing them what to do and say, Pastor Redlin had each senior practice baptizing each other, allowing them to build confidence in carrying out the second ordinance given to the church.
“The lesson was a very practical experience,” said Daniel McManus (Sr., VA). “Pastor Redlin taught us about baptism and how to explain it to the people of our [future] church. He gave us some advice about what to do and what not to do, as well as shared some funny stories of mistakes that he had made in his early years of ministry. We then got to practice baptizing each other. He walked us through each step, making sure that we were accurately practicing the ordinance. It has been so helpful to learn from an experienced pastor about how to handle circumstances that I have not yet experienced.”
Having taken the class during his college career, Pastor Redlin has always looked forward to speaking to and instructing the ministerial men over the years, especially since returning to serve at Campus Church. This year, he has been taking them through a series on finances in the church, but he has also covered youth ministry, qualifications for pastoral ministry, church discipline, and pastoral counseling. “It is one of the very special privileges of serving as pastor of Campus Church to be able to interact with our ministerial guys,” he said. “These guys in the ministerial class, they’re going to influence those people who are influencing their world. They’re going to be standing in pulpits, all across the states, and literally all across the world. I anticipate that, quite possibly, the person that’s going to stand in the Campus Church pulpit in some years is sitting in that class.”
“We’re trying to invest in them some necessary tools,” Pastor Redlin continued. “My dad always said, ‘The right tool makes all the difference.’ Sometimes you have this obscure tool in your toolbox and you think, What am I ever going to use that for? But when you need that tool, and you have it, that tool makes all the difference.”