Dr Reuben van Rensburg
The highlight of any university student’s academic journey must surely be the Graduation Ceremony. Years of study, sweat and sacrifice are finally rewarded when that beautiful hood is placed over your shoulders and you hear that long-anticipated “Congratulations”. What a moment! It feels like the whole audience is focussed on you and you can almost reach out and grasp the pride of family and friends. It has all been worth it. Your new credential will not only enhance your CV, but will also help to qualify you for your chosen career …. And the pastorate, and the mission field and Christian leadership, are no different!
Research has revealed a shocking statistic, namely that of the over 2 000 000 pastors in the world, only 5% have had any formal training! That is not to say that the other 95% have had no training whatsoever, because there are many groups providing excellent training to those for whom formal, tertiary education is not feasible. However, there are tens of thousands who have simply not been trained at all. This comes at a time when the church in many places is experiencing phenomenal growth and needs trained leaders to disciple and teach new converts in a way that is unswervingly biblical. Surely then the role that the seminary plays is absolutely vital in helping to address this issue. The oft-quoted phrase, “As goes the seminary, so goes the church” comes to mind.
At the South African Theological Seminary, we take this maxim very seriously. We are committed to training Christian leaders and pastors according to three non-negotiable principles, namely Bible-based, Christ-centred and Spirit-led. We are convinced that it is only as we do that, that we can contribute to the solution to what is clearly a critical problem.
Students who graduate with us, we believe, emerge with a qualification which will equip them to minister as Christ would want them to. (By the way, this year sees a record number of graduates, with 12 of them being PhD candidates!)
It is greatly encouraging when we see students at all levels deciding to study at institutions which are committed to teaching them the truth of God’s Word. This despite the opinion some have that it is more politically correct to study at liberal institutions, where the Bible plays a less important role and is not viewed as authoritative.
Those who are considering entering the ministry, should set their minds on studying at an institution which has a strong track record of solid, biblically-based training and which offers equipping designed to address the huge shortage of sound Bible teachers. As a result, when it comes to your turn to enjoy the fruit of your labours at the Graduation Ceremony, you will rejoice, not just in the fact that you have been awarded your qualification, but that you are ready and equipped to minister in a way pleasing to God.
In the USA the term is Commencement