It is in the water, not on the land, that we learn to swim," said the servant of the Lord in reference to training ministers (Gospel Workers, p. 495). While classroom instruction is necessary, in most professions practical on-the-job training is essential.
The church provides several means through which young ministers may receive practical training for productive pastoring. Among them are field schools of evangelism, the training center in Chicago, and pastoral formation pro grams. Now there is also the Northwest Ministries Training Center. Located on the campus of Washington Conference's Auburn Academy, with a converted dormitory providing housing, the center is home to North Pacific Union Masters of Divinity students during their ninth and tenth quarters. Since the maximum enrollment is twelve, each student can receive highly individualized training.
The students do their two quarters of work in four months, and receive thirty credit hours for the 120 class hours and 180 in-service hours they put in. This allows them to conduct the Bible studies that prepare the way for the six-week evangelistic series the program includes. In one recent session more than half of the students baptized candidates with whom they had studied.
Since its inception in 1982, Elder Jay Gallimore has directed the center. His job description also calls for him to pastor the Kent, Washington, Seventh-day Adventist Church, and this direct involvement with a church adds a great deal of practicality to the training program. (The church had seventy members in 1982. Attendance now regularly exceeds three hundred.)
Gallimore receives some assistance with administering the church, but basically the students at the center learn by working alongside him as he ministers. The evangelistic series they participate in resembles those they will hold when they have churches of their own—it is conducted by a pastor who must also carry on regular pastoral duties. In addition, the students participate in lay training classes and work with the local members in house-to-house visitation and Bible studies.
Gallimore says that training ministers in a church setting is very realistic. The students see that things do not always work as the lectures and books say; they also can experience functioning in the pastor-evangelist mode. One young minister recently told Gallimore that he believed his time at the center had saved him several years of learning by trial and error at the expense of others.
The students have a high degree of interest in their work at the center because they know that within a few weeks they will themselves be responsible for their own churches. Instruction about the anointing service becomes more than just a page in a notebook on practics because it involves a member of the very congregation in which they are working. And here they can see pro grams working in a typical, if somewhat larger than average, church. Each student must build his own interest file through door-to-door visitation and other entry programs. Gallimore says this teaches students that they need not enter a pastoral assignment and "wait and hope" for weeks to see interests coming their way.
The ultimate practical benefit, how ever, is that students and teachers are driven to their knees. Student after student has said that he never felt a greater need of prayer and trust in the Holy Spirit than while actually partici pating in the winning and shepherding of souls.
Roscoe Howard, who attended the first class Gallimore taught, now pastors his own district. He says that Gallimore demonstrated in the evening what he taught in the morning. Howard believes that he was better equipped to assume a pastoral-evangelistic assignment because of the four months of intensive, practical training he received at the center.
Joseph Kidder's experience there reveals the appetite the North Pacific Union hopes all its ministers acquire. A student from the Upper Columbia Conference, Kidder is of Syrian background. He tells of calling on Mrs. DeGeren, a Jewish lady, who was a bit defensive at first. But Kidder testified to what Christ had done for him and that now instead of being enemies because of their back grounds, they could be one in Christ. This visit deeply moved the DeGerens. They attended the evangelistic series Gallimore conducted, and Kidder had the privilege of baptizing them. (The DeGerens now lead in the Personal Ministries Department of the Kent church. ) He says that this experience made him feel like the successful fisher man who said, "Catching one makes you want to catch another."
Through knees and knuckles, a pasto ral/evangelistic program becomes not only possible but exciting.