Recently, I was discussing the issue of discipleship schools with a good friend. She brought up a very valid point: discipleship schools are NOT needed in churches today.
If a young person wants to enter into the world of ministry, currently the best option would be a Christian college or university or a secular university where they major in theology or religious studies. A minor in psychology would help, as well. I strongly encourage anyone who’s entering ministry to take a few classes on Christianity from a secular university, so as to learn the historic traditions of the religion. You will not regret this.
Another option, brought up by my friend, for a young person pursuing ministry is a paid internship. Many churches offer these, and they allow young people to work for a particular pastor or ministry group, while getting paid experience.
If someone wants to volunteer at a church, there’s always that option. I’ve never heard of a church who turns away volunteers.
The difference between a discipleship school and volunteerism is this: when you volunteer for a church or organization, you aren’t held to anything. You are working for free and free to come and go as you please. You’re not demanded to do certain things–you simply are there to help and can leave when you wish.
Not so with a discipleship school.
If you enroll in a discipleship school, you may hear the term, serving unto the Lord or you may be told that you’re just volunteering to help the church.
What’s wrong with this terminology?
For starters, anytime someone labels what you’re doing “unto the Lord,” there’s a real good possiblity that something unhealthy is going to go on. For example, if you’re cleaning the gym of a church “unto the Lord” it’s going to be extremely easy for the person who’s asking you to work for them to take advantage of your situation and your attitude. Clearly, Christians have been taught to give to God selflessly, and it’s been our idea that the pastor and church are reflections of God, so giving to them is just like giving to God.
When you volunteer, just be aware of the following:
- You set the time that you work and you get to dictate how long you work.
- You should make sure that your boundaries are clear. If someone you’re working for is disregarding those boundaries, you have the right to stop working with them or tell them to stop what they are doing that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- You’re not being paid, therefore you are giving something to someone who needs it. That person (whether it’s a pastor, or minister) should be grateful for your help and should not take advantage of you. If so, they’re probably not someone you should volunteer for again.
These days, discipleship schools require young people to give up their freedom to date, restrict any personal contact with the opposite sex, financially contribute to the school, report to a pastor about every move they make, and selflessly serve that pastor for years of their life–neglecting their dreams, financial stability and potential to start a family.
Does this sound like something a HEALTHY CHURCH would want or need?
Readers: Help me define some other reasons why discipleship schools are unnecessary in today’s day and age.