IMPACT OF THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION ON PASTORS’ MINISTERIAL PERFORMANCE IN SOME SELECTED ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA BIBLE SCHOOLS
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This study was carried out to examine impact of theological education on pastors’ ministerial performance in some selected Assemblies of God Bible Schools in Nigeria. Four research question were formulated in order to guide the study. Oral interviews and questionnaires were used to gather relevant information from respondents from the study area. A total of one hundred and twenty (120) questionnaires were distributed to lecturers and students at Assemblies of God Bible Colleges; of these eighty five questionnaires were returned. After data collection analysis was done, where the collected information was interpreted to meet the objectives of the project. The study revealed that Assemblies of God Pastors illustrated situations where they applied theological education but there was still a conflict in connecting theological education and practical pastoral work when posted to serve. The study conclude that theological education is one of the major tool for character transformation, practical discipline, training of pastors for information and dissemination of spiritual information to the Assemblies of God Church and our society. It was recommended that the recruitment of the Lecturers in Assemblies of God theological College should be done in such a way that those that are sent there will not see the place as a punitive ground. While pastors were advised not to forget the education/training the obtained during their years in bible college.
1.1 Background to the Study
The Church is in the position to lead a moral crusade in Nigeria. The Church encompasses the smallest unit of the society, which is the family. The church is a community of people, redeemed from sin, corruption, evil and wickedness. The place of the church in the nation Nigeria is of great importance, ranging from its contribution to the growth and development in several spheres. The above description of the church reveals the significance and efficacy of the Church to the society. Yet, the church cannot function on its own without effective ministerial performance of a Pastor who plays the leadership role. Therefore theological training on pastoral ministry becomes imperative in the church (The Herald 2014).
Theological education is vital for pastor’s ministerial performance all around the World. Theological education has the potential to be the seedbed for the renewal of churches, pastoral ministries, mission, commitment to Christian unity and the changing world. Although there is an age-long unresolved conflict between theological education and actual pastoral responsibilities in Nigeria. The question of why most of the graduates from theological institutions not teaching and living these truths taught at the seminary? This question still bothers most researchers as there is a clear difference between what pastors professes and practices; which led to finding out why what is taught in the Seminary does not accurately depict the realities in the churches today? Theology training is not simply the usual academic pursuits, it involve the entire human person, not just the intellect (R.H. Mounce, 1991).
Ministerial performance appraisal is seen in the Bible based on the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was found in one of the in one of the parables told by Jesus in (Luke 19:11-27) about the parable of the ten pounds in which we see the
Servants/labourers given different resources or works to be done after which an appraisal was carried out by their masters. The pastor as a leader commissioned by our Lord should not rely too much in the worldly methods, but depends mostly on the ways of our Lord as taught in Assemblies of God theological seminary.
There is widespread consensus that every pastor in AGN ministry should understand Christian faith and tradition in their fullness and should have access to basic education, faith nurture, and empowerment for mission. The book of Acts chapter two could be traced back in time to the last chapters of the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16: 14-20; Luke. 24: 44-53), in those records lies the Great Commission that Jesus gave before his ascension. Inherent in these biblical accounts is the specific instruction to the believers of being sent to “make disciples and teach”. It is instructive to note that Jesus sent those he had trained and prepared (Mk. 3:13-19; Luke. 6:12-16) and here lies the unassailable fact: for there to be a fulfilment of the mission of the church,, the church must be at all times involved in the training, discipling, and teaching of all believers. This is the essence of theological training and Christian education in particular.
The growth of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria (AGN) during the Decade of Harvest (1990-2000) is without a doubt one of the most dramatic developments of the Church in West Africa. From a small, exclusive movement in the early 1940s, the church has grown to be a significant Pentecostal denomination in West Africa. In spite of this phenomenal growth, the future of the church in terms of its theological education calls for a renewal. The establishment of Bible institutions by the Assemblies of God, Nigeria (AGN) is based on the immediately felt needs of its clerics. This Pentecostal denomination still struggles with the perception of theological education as the seedbed for the renewal of churches and the intellectual development of its clerics. Evidently, the three tiers of the theological programmes of the AGN, that is, the diploma and the bachelors and master’s degrees in theology, lack cohesive curriculum articulation (Ebuade, 2004).
1.2 Problem Statement
The problem that has always confronted the Assemblies of God Nigeria is the lethargy to differentiate literate clergy from educated clergy, and literacy from education. This assertion is supported by the fact that the Assemblies of God Nigeria has always maintained a fundamentalist position on its theological training based only on the ability to read scripts without the proper educational training to interpret the scripts. According to (Elizabeth, Keefe & Susan, 2011), “how literacy is defined affects the classroom instruction, community services, and the literacy opportunities offered to students and adults.” In this regard, the philosophy of Assemblies of God Nigeria Bible schools from inception has been to help students develop the ability to read and write, and acquire physical skills to work in the ministry of the church. The AGN Bible schools were established by expatriate missionaries. With the exit of expatriate missionaries, the church is faced with the challenges of charting the path of its own theological education for training future generations. In the pressure for self-promotion and the fame game in seminaries, the practical ministry department, including missions, tends to be at the low end of the church vision. If the church will arise to maximize the opportunity that this era presents and minimize the threat that it portends then it is imperative that the training of its ministers especially in the context of Seminary education be given more attention. This formed the focus of this present study on the impact of theological education on pastoral ministry.
- Aims/Objectives of the Study
The general purpose of the study is to evaluate the impact of theological education on pastors’ ministerial performance in some selected Assemblies of God Nigeria Bible Schools. The specific objectives are as follows;
- To find out the problems of inadequate theological education and its impact on pastors’ ministerial performance in some selected AGN Bible Schools.
- To investigate the causes of inadequate theological education and its impact on pastors’ ministerial performance in some selected AGN Bible Schools.
- To discover the effects of inadequate theological education and its impact on pastors ministerial performance in some selected AGN Bible Schools.
- To proffer some relevant solutions to inadequate theological education and its impact on pastors’ ministerial performance in some selected AGN Bible Schools
- Research Questions
The following questions were formulated from the above objectives to guide the study;
- Are there problems of inadequate theological education which impact on pastors’ ministerial performance in AGN Bible Schools?
- Are there possible causes of inadequate theological education in some selected AGN Bible Schools?
- Is there any significant effects of inadequate theological education on pastors’ ministerial performance in AGN Bible Schools?
- What are the relevant solutions to inadequate theological education that affects pastors’ ministerial performance in some selected AGN Bible Schools?
1.5 Significance of the Study
At the completion of this study, all the stakeholders will be engaged in a discussion that will help fine-tune and preserve the rich Theological education for ministerial performance in a way and manner that is in agreement with biblical pattern and effective in getting the message of our Lord and Saviour to the 21st Century world; it will also serve to re-vitalize the potency of our testimonies as leaders and members of the church.
By stakeholders, the researcher means the Theological Seminaries and all other theological faculties of bible schools and colleges; pastors of both mega and non-mega churches; the leaders who have the call of God on their life and are desirous of getting trained and equipped for the heavenly task committed into their hands and all other people who feel it is in their best interest to know more about the task of theological training on pastoral ministry.
The study will also be beneficial to researchers who intend to embark on study in similar topic as the study will serve as a guide to their study. Finally the study will be beneficial to academia’s students and the general public.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
Theological education is tied to service and the formation of all Christians, therefore this discussion on or examination of theological training was done within this context. This study confined itself to examining the impact of theological education on pastors’ ministerial performance. This was is within the framework of the Assemblies of God Church and with specific reference to Pentecostal Theological Seminary Eleme, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Assemblies of God Bible College, Aka Itiam, Akwa Ibom State. However, there were some constraint that tends to hinder the flow of this study, such limitations include:
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Members Reluctance: In most cases the members of Assemblies of God Church Seminary often feels reluctance over providing required information required by the researcher. This result in finding information where the structured questionnaires could not point out.
Researcher’s Commitment: The researcher, being of full time student spent most of her time on other academic activities such as test, class work, assignment, examination etc which takes average focus from this study.
Inadequate Materials: Scarcity of material is also a major hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to lay hands on several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.
1.7 Research Procedure
An historical research approach to the problem was adopted, and extensive literature review was done on the concept of theological education especially for leadership development from the period of the early church to our present day. The historical emergence of seminary based theological education and church based theological education was also sufficiently explored and the need for each was researched fully. The study of Assemblies of God Bible College in the context of historical trends, institutional and technological innovation realities in church leadership formation was also carried out.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Impact: this is the effect or influence that an event, situation etc has on someone or something. The action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.
Theology: Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries.
Training: Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge or fitness that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity and performance.
Pastoral ministry: The term pastoral ministry relates to shepherds and their role caring for sheep. The term was adopted for metaphorical usage historically first by Christians, although many religions and non-religious traditions contain an emphasis on care and social responsibility.
Theological Education: Theological education is the training of men and women to know and serve God. It has the potential to be the seedbed for the renewal of churches, their ministries, mission, commitment to Christian unity and the changing world.
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