June 18, 2024

In this episode, Kurt speaks with Jonathan Pritchett on ways that seminarians can still be involved in the life of the church. Pritchett is the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary.

Listen to “Episode 86: Unemployed Shepeherds” on Spreaker.

Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. So nice to be with you here. It is springtime in Chicagoland. I’m calling it. Chris gives me the evil eye right off the bat. Yes. I think it’s springtime, it’s still a little cool, but boy is it nice. People are outside jogging. Our neighbor was working on his house. You know what I did Chris? I did…

Chris: What did you do, Kurt?

Kurt: Poop patrol for my dog.

Chris: Lovely.

Kurt: Winter goes on.

Chris: Did she leave you Christmas presents?

Kurt: Many Christmas presents that I had to clean up.

Chris: Nessie’s a joy.

Kurt: Nessie. Yeah. That dog, but the weather was, you know, I still had to keep a hat on, but I was able to go outside in my sweater and just did some yard work. It was kind of nice. Hey. Things have been looking up for you.

Chris: That they have.

Kurt: Yes. Chris, for all the single ladies that follow this show and tune in to hear Chris’s voice.

Chris: I’m so sorry.

Kurt: Ever so few. I am sorry. He is now off the market, engaged, congratulations, Chris.

Chris: Thank you.

Kurt: And so it’s gonna be busy party planning for you.

Chris: Yes indeed. We’re doing it in a very accelerated timeline compared to most couples that I have met.

Kurt: Yes. But your intentions were very traditional and classic and what used to be considered dating, some people call it courting, but you had the right intention that you’re in this because you’re looking for a spouse.

Chris: Yes. We were dating with a purpose/courting for about five months and then we’re like, “Let’s tie the knot.” Now we’re on that leg of the journey that looks to be even shorter getting to the altar than the courtship was.

Kurt: Yes. So congratulations for that.

Chris: Thank you.

Kurt: Again, if you are a single lady and you are one of our followers I am sorry. Chris, our technical producer, that’s awesome. Great news. 

Chris: But until then Kurt, I am married to the job.

Kurt: Yes. We’ve got a couple announcements for you today. I want to take this opportunity to announce to you the next Defenders event so this is apologetics in evangelism. We’re going to be in Hartford, Connecticut on April 14 and very much looking forward to bringing you a Defenders regional event. I’ll be there speaking along with Ted Wright, the founder of Epic Archaeology, David Montoya, who’s an associate here at Defenders Media, and also one of our regional associates, Richard Porter, so if you’d like to learn more about that event and how you can learn to share your faith and defend it at the same time go to thedefendersconference.com to learn more details and to register there. Also, I want to take a note here, Saturdays is the apologetics315 weekly apologetics bonus links and I want to encourage you to go to apologetics315.com, check out some of the great links we’ve posted there today. A number of Kindle deals if you’re one of those ereaders. There are many people out there that are one of those ereader people. I don’t understand them. I like the paper. Paper books, that’s where it’s at, but nevertheless, if you like the ereading we’ve got some great Kindle deals for you there and some weekly links too. Two weeks ago there were a number of debates that occurred. We’ve got those video links for you. We’ve got some announcements for upcoming events, and look there. I see, Steve, our volunteer assistant has posted last week’s Veracity Hill episode. Great segue. Thank you for that link there, Steve. If you haven’t yet listened to last week’s episode, I want to encourage you to do that. I talked briefly about the legacy of Billy Graham. There’s this great inspirational five-minute clip. We talked about the Licona-Ehrman debate, and then also the Craig-Wielenberg debate. That was a bit more high level. We pushed that towards the end of the show on purpose just in case some of you would have zoned out by that time in the livestream. At any rate, I hope you stayed clued in, because some of those conversations are very important, including those meta-ethical discussions, so hopefully, you stuck in with it through the end.

Next, I’m going to bring in Mark Lester of Checkmarkedfilmreviews.com. Mark has tuned in and been on the show every, I would say infrequently, but the Oscars are tomorrow he tells me. Mark, I’m curious who your predictions are for tomorrow. 

Mark: Hello. This is Mark Lester with Checkmarked Movie Reviews. How’s it going? So for the Oscars for tomorrow, the awards are going to have a lot of for sure ones. All the acting ones are pretty much foregone conclusions. Gary Oldman will win best actor for Darkest Hour. Frances McDormand will most likely win for Three Billboards as will her costar Sam Rockwell for supporting actor and supporting actress will more than likely go to Allison Janney for her performance in I, Tonya. The one category that will be hard to predict is the big one which is best picture because there’s some people it will be Shape of Water, others, Three Billboards, and some say it might even be a surprise like Get Out or Dunkirk. I think it’s between Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water. The Shape of Water will win best director, I think, by far, but as far as best picture I’m gonna go with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Thank you.

Kurt: Thanks for that Mark and very nice to hear from you and we will bring you back on and see if those predictions were accurate. If you are a film buff and you are interested to follow along with Mark you can go to checkmarkedfilmreviews.com and I hope that you’ll enjoy the Oscars tomorrow night. This week’s episode is an intriguing one. We are, not necessarily, I’m sure we’re going to get into some theological subjects, but in some ways this can be a very practical episode, maybe some advice, some consulting if you will, and ideas from someone who has thought quite a bit about this. Our guest today is the vice-president of academic affairs and he’s a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary so I want to welcome onto the program Johnathan Pritchett. Johnathan. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Johnathan: Pleasure to be here.

Kurt: This is, as we’ve joked before, you say you are very opinionated about a number of ideas.

Johnathan: I know very little about most of them, but I have an opinion about all of them.

Kurt; But it’s good to be aware that those opinions are out there and it’s not to say that they’re invalid. You might have great reasons for those opinions that you have.

Johnathan: I think so, but I tussle with plenty of people on the internet so they seem to disagree, and I try to figure out why.

Kurt: On today’s show, I want to talk about, I wouldn’t call it a crisis. I think it’s a problem though of Seminarians or even if they haven’t formally received like an MDiv, people with theological education who are not in the pastorate, so they aren’t a former pastor, but who nevertheless can and should play an important role in the life of the church and I think you probably are more experienced in this area than I am given all the students that you encounter at your school and stay in touch with and how active you are online. You have these types of discussions. Tell me more about what you perceive the problem is here in our churches today. 

Johnathan: Because, like you said I have so many students that, at a seminary, we take peoples’ money to train them for a pastorate or some sort of ministry vocation, so there’s a moral dimension as well as just an educational dimension because seminaries for whatever reason, they offer a smorgasbord of degrees or whatnot. Many, not ours, are quite expensive at that and as you probably come to discover, ministry doesn’t pay all that great so there is kind of a moral dimension to this that we’ve got to be mindful of and if you look just at any of the major church job posting sites and they’re everywhere now whether it’s churchstaffing.com or denominational boards. If you look at the Southern Baptist Convention….

Kurt: I’ve seen Logos puts out job postings, I think every week they’ve got new stuff from people that send them information too.

Johnathan: Yes. They’re everywhere. If you’re looking for a job in ministry you’ll find plenty of people looking to hire somebody and you have plenty of people who are trained in the ministry to work for them, but it seems like never the twain shall meet. You have so many out of work ministers and you have so many churches seeking pastors or whatever and they never, I hear stories time and time again of people who have submitted over 100 resumes to churches and can’t even get a sit-down with the committee. I know from my own personal experience I have been in the place where, I’ve only had two ministry jobs that paid me, before I came here. Trying to get into any sort of academic position now is…

Kurt: Near impossible.

Johnathan: Even adjunct positions are getting snapped up because there’s more Ph.D., Peter Enns was talking about this in a blog article recently that I read that he thinks evangelical seminaries need to stop offering Ph.D. programs because there’s so many out there with not enough jobs for them to have. They’re not going to get hired at state schools or liberal divinity schools or anything like that either. You’ve got pastors with Ph.D.s in churches of 40 people and working another job. I know that an opponent I recently debated had to close his church down which is probably good considering this individual, but he’s a librarian and he’s got a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and there’s a lot of people like him out there and a lot of better people than this man obviously out there as well, but there’s not enough jobs for Ph.D. students. There’s plenty of churches looking for jobs. There’s plenty of people getting M. Div’s, though I hear the M.Div is kind of on the decline now, plenty of people getting Master’s degree, but if you think about it, if you pay for a Bachelor’s degree, you’re already at minimum 30-40 grand out on education, and then a Master’s degree on top of that, which if you look at the job sites is now to get a job as a pastor in a church that runs 100-150 and so you have to go get more education on top of the Bachelor’s degree and what do you do if you went to private Bible college, you are qualified, like with a Bachelor’s degree that I got from Liberty, you’re qualified to do what I did, which is deliver pizzas while I went to BIOLA, while my wife worked a real job. She was smart. She got her Master’s in accounting after getting a Bachelor’s in accounting, but if you’re in ministry, a Bachelor’s degree in Bible study or theology or something like that, you can deliver pizzas with it, you can work at McDonald’s, you can do any number of things like that, but not a lot of jobs looking for you with that specific skill set at the Bachelor’s level. Ministers have a hard time in between churches these days even though there’s so many churches hiring, they’re all looking for the celebrity in the making pastor. Good old boy Jim Bob who grew up in the South and he just wanted to preach the good old gospel can’t find a job anymore and he’s out all this money and he’s going for his next level of education, so I look at this from a lot of different things because I talk to students and I talk to a lot of pastors and I talk to a lot of pastors online, and here’s the good side to this. The good side to this is pastors are hanging on to their jobs and staying at churches a lot longer than they used to. Used to be, the average Southern Baptist pastor, for example, would be there 2-3 years and then move on to the next church. We’re seeing that stop, which is good. People are camping out a little bit longer, because they know they may not get the next job because there’s so many, so many people trying to get it. It’s tough. You’d think that you would have a recession-proof type career in ministry, but you really don’t, and so it’s tough for the person who’s a ministry student, they’ve sensed a calling to the ministry. They may even be licensed to their local church in ministry. They teach Sunday School or[NP1]  racking up student loan debt. If you go to other schools besides Trinity that’s going to happen. I[NP2] of a mortgage on my[NP3] so in paying back for my education, it’s tough, and so the upside for ministers that have a church, even bi-vocational, is they stay there, because it used to be they would stay 2-3 years and pastors would try to find the next biggest church. If they’re at 150 they want to go for 250 and maybe a $20,000 bump in salary and a better parsonage and they play that game. As much as I love pastors and I stick up for pastors, here’s where I kind of used to really get onto pastors about this. Instead of growing a church that would also mean that their salvation go closer to the amount of revenue the church would bring in through the tithing, they would just go find a bigger church after they got experience and they would always spiritualize it “I was called.”

Kurt: Isn’t that awful?

Johnathan: You notice pastors who make over $100,000 never get called, except for Francis Chan, to go do anything. He’s like the anomaly, but megachurch pastors never seem to get called to the next thing up the ladder. Once you get a certain place you campaign for decades.

Kurt: I’m glad you brought up that point because at least the point I try to run my Christian non-profit. I still tell people this is a business. There are business aspects and inasmuch as people don’t want to think about churches as a business, in many ways it is. You have budgets you’re dealing with. You’ve got to bring in a certain amount of money to meet those budgetary goals. You’ve got to pay your staff. Staffers themselves are looking for better pay, they want time off, like you said, pastors will go from church to church seeking better pay, a bigger parsonage, and so we need to recognize that there are these business aspects, and then, I think to matters worse, to spiritualize it, beyond God’s general providence, right? To talk about a special call or something like that, it’s just, to me it’s just not true and it’s an obstruction to really understanding how God actually works in the world.

Johnathan: I will say this, it could be true, but so many pastors who they’re calling was to a better city with a better house and a bigger paycheck, there’s too many of those “I felt called” for us to believe that they’re all true. Like I said though, now pastors are realizing they need to hang on to the job they have and do a job or they’ll get run out and so it’s got better, but the problem is that whole scheme that pastors were doing ruined it for people now, the seminarians now, because now churches have, they’re not stupid. They’ve caught on to the scheme of pastors because they’ve seen the revolving door in their churches before. Right? Now it’s harder, and I know somebody’s going to say there’s the young guy tossing the older generation. No. I’m not young. There’s gray in my beard. young[NP4] . We’re not young guys. Okay? After 40, we’re old like you. Now it’s just a matter of degree. But I am saying there was a culture in evangelicalism of prior pastors who wanted to, the boomer generation wanted that step to climb the corporate ladder and they’ve treated like that in church life, and yes, they did spiritualize it. I think that’s made it harder on pastors and seminarians now and not all seminarians are young. The average person in my seminary is probably 50. It’s not like it’s the younger generation versus, it’s the older model of pastors versus a newer model of pastors who have it tougher because of the cynicism they bred in churches by, the one church I was pastor of in Alexander, Arkansas. I lasted seven months before I was fired, fired while I was away on my residency by the way. I was their sixth pastor in four years. 

Kurt: Oooh.

Johnathan: Now some of that was pastors biding their time for a better gig. Some of it of this church was of their father, the devil, and it was a horrible church, and some of that blame was on the church people. I’m going to lay off of pastors in a minute as the congregation rolls along, but pastors did kind of bury the next crop of pastors, because now they need church committees who are cynical at this point, because you’ve got the deacons who have been in these churches for decades. People laugh, the deacon jokes, “I was here before you got here. I’ll be here after you’re gone.” But you know what? It’s true. That’s been his experience because of pastors? Okay? Now the flip side to this is a lot of churches treat their pastors like doo-doo and so there’s a lot of blame on that side as well, but it’s an interesting phenomenon how you have so many pastors looking for work. So many churches looking for pastors and yet nobody ever finds anything and these pastors, these churches go pastorless for a long time or they have an interim and one of the things that I don’t like[NP5] a pastor who will facilitate a search for a new pastor and then that pastor ends up taking the job. That’s never what it was designed for and now that’s what it’s become.

Kurt: Yeah. I’ve heard of a situation like that locally where that happened and this does not seem right, but I want to get back to something you talked about how churches can run off pastors off. I want to talk about some of the, at least some of the ideas I have on why this is. I think in terms of expectations, churches often expect the pastor to put in, to do like 60-70 hours a week of work.

Johnathan: Even bi-vocational pastors are expected to do that by the way.

Kurt: That is wild for bi-vocational pastors. That’s just wild. Some people, I don’t think they realize it takes to prepare a sermon. I think that’s for starters. The study, prayer, and writing of a sermon, that can take minimum, ten hours a week, minimum, and if you’re doing a sermon, fifteen, maybe even twenty hours, if you’re doing a great sermon, great research. Twenty hours for a great sermon mind you, but that’s half a work week. I’m not sure some people just realize that and then when they’re looking for the pastor that can do the administrative stuff, oversee the staff, communication pieces, visitations, all these sorts of things. It’s going crazy. Let me give one example from my own church. We’re presently in the interim state with our associate pastor position and there’s been talk about the job expectations and upon reflection back upon what that person did and the desire for the position to have more time designated going to the youth events, like sporting events for their school and whatnot, and I had to make a point to this board that I was on. I said, “You need to reflect that time in the job description, because that’s the person’s time. You can’t just tack it on as an extra upon everything else. This is how burnout happens. They just expect, and then in terms of pay, the pay is low.

Johnathan: And do you want your associate minister’s marriage to survive working for us? That whole thing. It’s interesting, #1, I look at the job boards and I’m convinced that, I agree with what you said earlier that you’ve got to run a church similar to a business, but where I think the worst bits of that, the best parts of running a church about a business which is common sense rarely comes in to play and the worst bits where these job look like we’re looking for middle managers of telecom communications companies where you want for someone with a proven track record of team building and decisive action taking and effective this and blah blah blah and maybe they’ll quote 1 Timothy 2 something or other somewhere at the bottom after all this stuff that reads just like any sort of middle management corporate job. Those are ridiculous. If I didn’t work for Braxton Hunter, God love him, I would have on your YouTube channel a weekly church shaming show, where I would go through these job postings and look at what they’re asking for and then down at the bottom when they finally get to some sort of tethered to a prooftext qualification and it says “Starting salary $27,000”

Kurt: Right. Right.

Jonathan: Dear Lord. If I thought I could get away with it, which there’s no way I could get away with it, I would shame a different church every week, because people would send these things. Look at what they’re asking. I can’t find a job. I can’t meet all of these. I read them and none of it has anything to do with, “Do you love people? Do you have any experience teaching the Bible?” All of that kind of stuff. It’s all of this corporate language blather, that they almost copy and pasted from other types of professions and just inserted it in there. That’s on the churches. I don’t know where they bought into this. You know me. I am not the most, I don’t talk everything in evangelical language. I don’t get wrapped into that, but it is, to me, there is a sense that it’s just so worldly that it’s offensive. I’m not the guy who tries to be pious about everything and anything like that, but it is somewhat offensive to me that the search committees devise these lists of things and what they really want is people who look more like you than look like me at the end of the day. They want someone young, attractive, married, beautiful family, and all of these things which you won’t have the experience that they’re asking for, but somebody who looks like you with more experience. What do you look like? Send us a picture of your family. If you’re slightly overweight, no. If your wife’s not pretty enough, no. That’s what it’s come down to. What do you need a picture for? Now you’re judging people and their kids. Are their kids cute enough in the picture? Do they look apple pie enough? I don’t know. There’s a lot of things that bother me that make me sympathize with young pastors or even older pastors who are…

Kurt: Who are unemployed right now. First, let me say you’re too kind and maybe overestimating. Nevertheless…

Johnathan: Certainly your wife would agree with me that you’re a nice looking man.

Kurt: Yes. I hope so. That’s two people on planet Earth. We’ve got to cut to a break here, Jonathan. I’ve really appreciated your thoughts on the church perspective and ways that churches really are just falling short in offering a truly commensurate pay, having reasonable expectations, and not, for them to have the competitive attitude of looking for the next celebrity pastor. Those really are some of the shortcomings of churches. We’re welcome to continue talking about that, but on the other side too, there’s that other aspect that I want to touch on after the break of seminarians today. Some people, they just want a church job right away and so what are some things they can do to better position themselves to get a job in the pastorate. I want to make sure we touch on that too.

Johnathan: Yeah. Absolutely.

Kurt: Let’s take a break here from our sponsors.

*Clip plays*

Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. Today I am joined by Johnathan Pritchett who is the vice-president of academic affairs at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary and today we are talking about unemployed shepherds, how some folks might have that theological education, but just can’t seem to find themselves in a role in the pastorate. Formally speaking, you might think a paying position here. Of course, there are many ways that people can get involved in the ministry of the church without having that former position, but then they might have to find themselves working some job elsewhere and their time and energy is divided and so we’ve got some great thoughts in the first half of the program here. We talked about some of the shortcomings that churches have had in having reasonable expectations, in not necessarily looking for the next celebrity pastor. I see some of the comments have loaded. I’m just now seeing this. We’ve got some lively discussion on today’s program, which is great. Thank you to those that are following along. I want to touch base with those momentarily, but first, Johnathan. I know you are an avid listener to the program, hashtag potentially not, and so this might be surprising to you for the round of Rapid Questions. Are you ready for these goofy questions? We’re looking for quick answers and I’ll tell you what, our pastor, the pastor of my church, go through 20 of 21 questions within 60 seconds. You’ve got a tall task to get close to that. I don’t know if anyone will ever beat it.

Johnathan: I will probably get two because of all the gifts that God gave me, memory was not one of them.

Kurt: I’ll tell you what. We have had on some scholars that they like to take their time and thinking about things and I’m pretty sure there have been times where I’ve only gotten through four or five. I’m going to start the game clock and when I do I’ll start with the first question. Are you ready?

Johnathan: No.

Kurt: Alright. Here we go. What’s your clothing store of choice?

Johnathan: Old Navy.

Kurt: Taco Bell or KFC?

Johnathan: KFC.

Kurt: What school did you go to?

Johnathan: What?

Kurt: What school did you go to?

Johnathan: Trinity.

Kurt: What song is playing your radio these days?

Johnathan: Iran. 

Kurt: Where would you like to live?

Johnathan: Moutain View, Arkansas.

Kurt; What’s your favorite sport?

Johnathan: SEC football. The rest isn’t really football.

Kurt: What kind of razor do you use?

Johnathan: The Kroger brand knock-off.

Kurt: What’s your spouse’s favorite holiday?

Johnathan: Christmas.

Kurt: Your favorite movie?

Johnathan: Diehard.

Kurt: Left or right?

Johnathan: Left.

Kurt: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?

Johnathan: No.

Kurt: Mmm. What’s your inner milkshake flavor?

Johnathan: Vanilla.

Kurt: Hokey Pokey, Electric slide, or the Macarena?

Johnathan: Hokey Pokey. 

Kurt: The Hokey Pokey. Nice. That was a confident Hokey Pokey answer. I like it. 

Johnathan: Turn yourself around man.

Kurt: It’s really a shame that you don’t drink Dr. Pepper. Sorry to hear that.

Johnathan:  No. I don’t drink diet Dr. K, which is the big K brand at Kroger.

Kurt: I like your style. You go for some of the knock-off brands and I appreciate that.

Johnathan: I’m cheap. I’m in ministry.

Kurt: You gotta be. You’re in ministry. Hilarious. Your favorite movie you said was.

Johnathan: Diehard.

Kurt: Is that a Christmas movie?

Johnathan: No. It came out in the summertime even though it takes place at Christmas. 

Kurt: Well, that’s really the debate now isn’t it?

Johnathan: Yes. I used to try to do that every year, watch it at Christmas, but I gave up. It’s my favorite movie because it has everything that you could possibly want in mindless entertainment. It always had a special place in my heart. It was the first R-Rated movie I ever saw. Is it the best R-rated movie I’ve ever seen? No, but it’s my favorite. You asked me what my favorite was, not what I think is best.

Kurt: That’s right. Exactly. Thank you for playing that round of Rapid Questions. 

Johnathan: Aren’t KFCs and Taco Bells usually situated in the same building though? That was really tough.

Kurt; Yes. It’s our religious duty after every podcast, Chris, my technical producer and I, go to the local Taco Bell/KFC.

Johnathan: It’s one building. Right?

Kurt; You go in the building and you see the menu. What do you get? Taco Bell or KFC?

Johnathan: Most of the time, KFC. I’m Baptist. We like fried chicken, but Taco Bell, what I love is their beef burrito. Just the beef burrito. You have to ask them for it because it’s not on the menu anymore.

Kurt: Wait. Do you have the beefy Frito burrito for a buck? 

Johnathan: No. I’m talking about the regular plain beef burrito that used to be on the menu back in the 90’s and 80’s. It’s not on the menu anymore, but if you ask them, they’ll have it. It’s just….

Kurt: You gotta do it special order.

Johnathan: The meat, the sauce, and onions and cheese, and it’s actually really good. It’s better than all of their crazy menu items. 

Kurt: Hey. The beefy Frito burrito for a dollar. That’s some of the best value anywhere on the fast-food market.

Johnathan: Sure, but nothing beats their classic beef burrito and you have to ask for it. It’s not on the menu. 

Kurt: Yeah. One of those secret items. But they don’t upcharge you because it’s secret do they?

Johnathan: No. It’s probably the same as its ever been because they’ve probably never changed the key because it’s not on the menu anymore.

Kurt: Hilarious. Alright. I’m sure people are not tuning in to have us talk about KFC/Taco Bell, in as much as, Chris, maybe we should just do that.

Johnathan: If you do a show on food I’ll come back and be your guest again. 

Kurt: Also I want to note for those that are tuning in today is hat day on the program. Preacher there’s got his hat. I didn’t have my winter hat today. Like I said, springtime is here in Chicagoland.

Johnathan: We gave you the perfect excuse. You wore yours because you saw me wearing one.

Kurt: Now I’m having trouble remembering when you first called if I had my hat on.

Johnathan: And you said, “He’s wearing a hat, so I can wear a hat.”

Kurt: Maybe I was thinking about taking my hat off.

Johnathan: Oh. Was that it?

Kurt: Could be. Alright. Let’s get back to the topic of today’s program. It’s great that we can shoot the breeze like this though. We had Johnathan commented here on the livestream. He said something about no jobs in apologetics. Yeah. No apologetic jobs and my phone here where I’m keeping track of the comments keep scrolling down on me. What else did he say here? At any rate, I want to talk about that because….

Johnathan: I do too. I know you wanted to also talk about what should seminarians do….

Kurt: We will get to that! We will get to that! Before we get…

Johnathan: But I have a lot to say about all this. You were wondering could we fill an hour. Trust me. We can fill an hour. 

Kurt; Alright. First, let me talk about apologetics jobs because I run an apologetics Christian non-profit. I don’t like it when apologetic organizations say “We’re hiring” and you fill out this job application. You even go through an interview and then at the end of the interview you discover that it’s not a paid position. It is a self-supported position. I do not like that. I think it is deceptive. I know some jobs won’t post the pay, some regular jobs won’t post the pay of the position for a number of reasons, because they might be considering if they want to hire an experienced person or inexperienced. What have you. Other job postings do list the pay upfront, that’s great. You can apply or move on. The reason why this is deceptive is because a lot of people don’t want to do fundraising and so you’re wasting peoples’ time and you’re wasting your own time so for those who work in apologetics organizations, so when I’ve done hiring, and I’ve sought out positions, I’ve noted the pay, especially in the apologetics field, or even if I’m looking for help, I say this is volunteer position, just to be upfront with people because there is little pay, especially in the apologetics field. That’s one thing I’m going to get off my chest so Johnathan, thank you for noting that, Johnathan Hanna in the comments. What do you, Johnathan Pritchett, what did you want to say about this?

Johnathan: First of all, you and I both have one of our degrees at least are in apologetics. Right?

Kurt: Right.

Johnathan: And you actually bothered to use yours. Mine, I don’t even care about it, but look. I’m a big believer in apologetics, some apologetics programs, like at Trinity. Our program, you were talking about your conference, my guy, my boss, my co-host at Trinity radio, shout-out wrote the book Evangelistic Apologetics. Before he became president of Trinity or even vice-president of Trinity, before he became president, he was evangelist Braxton Hunter and he was not even apologist Braxton Hunter, but his education was apologetics. He is an apologist in the sense that that’s what he was formally educated in, but his primary thing is evangelism. Leather lung loudmouth evangelism is what he says he is by his own admission. If you’re going to get an apologetics degree, you should do something that doesn’t have apologetics in the title of it if you want to do anything at all. I think the apologetics degree, not every school that has an apologetics degree is equal. Ours is the best because BIOLA was the best and we do everything they did right and nothing they did wrong and that’s how we made it better. That’s easy to do, but BIOLA, HBU, love those guys that are down there, but not all apologetics programs are equal, but you want to find one that’s focused on something to do with reaching people for Jesus because God honors that work and I’ve seen, I hear evangelists talk about, “If I don’t get X amount of meetings per year, I can’t support my family”, but everyone I know that incorporates apologetics in their evangelistic ministry stays busy. If you have an apologetics degree, you need to be the education pastor. Pastors that have a slot for the education minister. Multi-staff churches will have that position, or youth pastor or sometimes both youth and education pastor, associate pastor positions, those people need to be filled with apologetics degrees and nothing else.

Kurt: Yeah. I think that’s right.

Johnathan: The lack of education in local churches better than those people who get degrees in Christian education who want to go be education pastors. You should vie for those positions and if you’re stuck in that route where you’re sending out cover letters or whatever, trash the current model of education pastor and you don’t have to be mean about it. I wouldn’t mean about it. In your cover letter, trash what’s wrong, and then tell them why an apologist is the better person to have that education or discipleship position at the local church, because apologists know, #1, whether it’s the biblical deficit or the cultural deficit or the philosophical deficit, apologists know how to cover all those things. The knock against apologists is they’re jacks-of-all-trades, masters of none, but I always counter that with jack is the person who gets the most things done in the culture and it’s good to be a jack, and guess what an apologist can be a master of one or two of them, so if you want Jack, it’s good that it’s a jack-of-all-trades because you need a jack-of-all-trades to confront the problems in churches that are hemorrhaging members. I think apologetics are uniquely educated and uniquely gifted in the way that they think and their spiritual gifts to get that turned around in their local churches, so I’d like to see apologists apply for pastorate jobs that are youth pastor or discipleship pastor or something like that. That’s what the apologist degreed people need to be shooting for, and they need to explain in their cover letters why they know how to get that corrected in local churches, and why local churches need to understand they actually have a problem. is[NP6]  better than someone with an M.Div. or whatever else. They are better suited for those roles. M. Div will make you a great senior pastor if there’s such a thing, or whatever, but I think apologists can make really good associate pastors and probably what the church needs more of inside the church. Sadly, too many people get an apologetics degree and they all think that they’re gonna have the next Reasonable Faith ministry. One of the things that I have been saddened by is seeing so many people that I went to BIOLA with graduate and have worthless internet ministries where they argue on Facebook all day long and they do little else. That’s what you spend all that money for and time for? Just to argue on Facebook and have a website six clicks a month? No. You need to be active in your local church. Really, if you want to get to the next level, you’ve got to debate. If you’re going to be an apologist and you want to have an apologetics ministry, you go pick a fight with a local professor and make sure you stream it on Facebook or YouTube. If you’re not going to debate, get out of apologetics unless you’re going to be a local church pastor, but if you want to have an apologetics ministry like Mike Licona or William Lane Craig or any of these other guys, you have to debate. That’s how you get out there.

Kurt: For those that are interested in apologetics, you don’t have to get the degree. If you want to teach an apologetics class at your church, you don’t have to have a Master’s degree to accomplish that.

Johnathan: No.

Kurt: So what you’re saying here I think is a good warning for people that to all of a sudden start a blog and just do that….

Johnathan:  We don’t need any more internet apologetics ministries. We need more evangelists who use apologetics in their evangelism. We need more pastors who are trained in apologetics at least at the associate pastor level, if not a senior pastor, because apologists are typically cooler than pastors are. You’ll be the senior pastor anyway when that guy retires, so you hang around long enough, because they’ll already like you better. I’m serious. 

Kurt; That’s the corporate ladder.

Johnathan: Actually, the corporate ladder thing. There are jobs for apologists. It’s just apologists have done a really bad job of showing their value in the local church.

Kurt: I see here, Chris has a great comment. Apologists make great collegiate/youth pastors. The youth pastor position as many seminarians know, that’s the bottom of the corporate ladder. Also why there’s some of the most turnover there in that area, but for me, my interest, like if an opportunity were to be presented with good pay to be a teaching pastor with something like running a college group, that’s great for an apologist, because apologists want to be reaching college-age students, college is that time of life when students are off on their own. In many schools, they are fed to the wolves, and so it’s a great opportunity to minister. For those that are interested in apologetics, definitely think college-age ministry and seek out, it would be some of those mid-level size churches that might be doing that. The smaller churches wouldn’t necessarily have that position, but if you were devoted to your church family and you were going to be sticking around for a long time, start the ministry.

Johnathan: That’s right.

Kurt: Just get it going. So this is gonna transition us into, we’ve got ten minutes here Johnathan. For seminarians that are currently unemployed, there are so many things that they can already begin doing now in the life of their church. It’s just amusing to me, and you’re more aware of this than I am, but I see it. It’s amusing to me how people want a position in the church, but they’re not doing anything in the church. 

Johnathan: Right. Or they want a position in the seminary and they’re not doing anything in the church. I made a post on my Facebook wall about that and got huge amounts of positive and negative. People were offended.

Kurt; Wait. You get negative comments. No.

Johnathan:  You want to teach systematic theology? Why aren’t you teaching it in your local church. If you don’t have it on your resume I throw it in the trash automatically. “Well my church doesn’t want systematic theology to be taught.” Then you go to a church that believes in it, you know, and you do it. You find a way to do it, but I don’t even look at resumes, we’re not even hiring, but I get resumes every day. Should the day come when we are hiring at our seminary, it’s going to come from somebody who is probably a friend of mine to be honest. I’m certainly going to look at resumes that don’t have, “I’m busy in my local church now teaching the very thing that I want to teach in seminary to laypeople.” My Dad, he was a Sunday School teacher. Okay? He was in a church that probably ran 200 people on Sunday morning. At the end of his run, he was an accountant by trade, but he had probably 45-50 people between two Sunday School classes in that church. That’s bigger than a lot of peoples’ churches in kind of an outlier county area in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I have seen churches where if you are a seminarian and you’re not employed and you’re not active then you need to drop out of seminary and save your money and go do something else. You can go find a place in a church and you can build up a ministry within that church, they’re not going to pay you anything, but they’ll let you use a room and if you start attracting people and within six months you have 25-30 people in there who never step foot in your church before, but you led a Bible study or you even had a open, come in, skeptics, anybody, if you’re an apologist, ask me anything, dropping f-bombs in our church building, just come, and you build something and you make something happen because God is going to honor the fact that you want to reach people whether you’re paid or not. Guess what? I’ve seen it time and time again that that person becomes so integral with that ministry in the church that the church has to create a position to pay him so that he will keep doing that because after awhile you can start your own church with 40 or 50 people and believe it or not, if you make a lot of noise,[NP7] , you will attract a crowd. I’ve done it. I’ve built up a Sunday School class with four or five people and we ended up with about 30-35 within six months. The thing is is if you live in the city and you are a member of a local church, it’s actually I think easier for you to do that in the church you’re already in than the time you spend sending out resumes to churches all over the continental United States and waiting to see if you get the interview.

Kurt: You’ve got to make the opportunity instead of just taking whatever opportunities presented to you

Johnathan: Yeah. and if you’re willing to serve the Lord where the Lord goes, which is to the bottom of the barrel as Jesus didn’t mind getting down in there in the muckety-muck, get down in there and start a ministry in your church. Do a Bible study, do an apologetics thing, do a great books reading thing where you just read great books and talk about it. You’ll find people who are interested in that that never darken the doorstep of a church. You do evangelism in your ministry and you can grow that thing. You can grow a Sunday School class. It’s easier to do that where you have roots than trying to build a church, it’s one of the things that we forgot to touch on in the last segment. It never made sense to me why church, they want to grow, they want to get a pastor to grow, and then they’ll get somebody from four states away with no roots in the community and put it all on his shoulders to make something to happen. That’s another one of those things that bothers me. If you have roots in a city you are already situated to where you can go out there, you know where to go, you know where to invite people, and you spend all of your after work hours inviting people to whatever it is you’re doing at your church. If you stick with that, I believe God honors evangelism and till you’re trying to get into the ministry, all that time you spend doing that, you may end up with a ministry and a church wanting to pay you so you don’t take your 50-60 people after a year that doubled their church and start your own church where you’ll get paid. That kind of thing happens and I think apologists especially, but even pastoral ministry students, seminarians are by and large cool people. They really are. You’ve got a few that are annoying, but overall, seminary people that I talk to are really cool people and I think that they are personable enough that they could get this done in the churches they are in right now.

Kurt: They’ve just got to do it. It’s like they’ve got to have the confidence to just start doing it. It’s amazing, yes, God will honor what people do and if you do start something like this, a ministry within your local church, as you said Johnathan, two things will happen, maybe three. 1, the church will recognize the value of your ministry and will honor that with a paid position at the church. 2. You might just leave and start your own church if the group is so large and then you can be paid to do what you have been doing. 3. Someone else from a different church might see what you have done and say, “Hey. We want you to do that here and we’re going to pay you to do it.”

Johnathan: It may even be a church where you don’t have to move three states away. Maybe it’s a larger church in your area which is always good because pastors always having to pack up their families is rough. It’s just rough on them. That’s part of the gig, but if you can stay close to home, you should do it. I think that a lot of people aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities to build ministries in their communities. There’s a whole world that operates on second and third shift. Your Bible study at 7:30 in the morning is probably the people who can get off at 7 AM and be there. Who’s ministering to those people? Large segments of our population are not reached at all by any because they don’t have the traditional Monday-Friday 9-5 and two days off on the weekend, and churches don’t know how to accommodate those people. I honestly believe that late shift and third shift ministries, you can build, there are so many people out there that are broken and hurting that need to hear the gospel, they need to know that people can love them in their situations and they’re so many opportunities even just there in your own city. How many people are working the graveyard at Wal-Mart and at the 24-hour gas stations? Those people aren’t plugged in anywhere. You can build 25-30 people just out of that if you want to hoof it.

Kurt: My former organization had a program that aired basically in the middle of the night. Not quite middle, but close to it, and there would be people that would call in from time to time saying they were driving to work listening to the program. There are people out there that need to be reached and the traditional church style is not reaching those types of folks.

Johnathan: Because their life hours are different than most peoples. They’re on second and third shifts. Churches, you can just start with, in[NP8] where I grew up, there was a row of factories, and the best churches, what they would do is they would send pizza for the graveyard shift pizza with tracts in them and stuff like that and they would get visitors because they would provide dinners for the lunch break, the third shift people, and that’s, just starting with that and then getting your way into their hearts and minds where you can share the gospel with them and their families, they’re so many opportunities out there for young seminarians to build ministries where they are. This frustrating game of sending out resumes and video tapes of yourself preaching and everything else. You’re going to end up in a stack of 100 others, but you can serve God right now where you are and you have all this information, especially if you’re in seminary, you have all this information. At Trinity, we let students have our powerpoints. Take our powerpoint, change whatever you think were heretical or wrong, whatever you think’s bad about us, but if you can use that, use that. Take this information that we give to you, that you are learning through our conversation, through our instruction, and give it to somebody else, and if you’re not teaching Sunday School or you’re not teaching a small group while you’re in seminary, get out of seminary. This is not for you to just edify yourself. It’s not for you to just entertain yourself. That’s a big problem in apologetics more than like other people.

Kurt: Tell me about it. I was just talking to someone, I think it was a couple Fridays ago. I was talking to someone and she said that she likes learning about apologetics and I said, “Why? Why are you learning this stuff.?” “It helps me in my faith.” “Great. What are you going to do about it?” What are you going to do about it?

Johnathan: So many apologists get into their apologetics nerd groupy groups and they just like talking about it and it’s just mental entertainment. That’s all it is. That’s a knock against apologists that they need to get out of that. 

Kurt: And don’t hear us incorrectly. I think what we’re suggesting is there is a good personal edification aspect to theological education, but if you don’t do anything with it, then there’s something wrong with that.

Johnathan: If you just are interested in that stuff, listen to our show and your show and other shows. If you’re never going to do anything with your degree, don’t pay for one.

Kurt: Plain and simple.

Johnathan: Don’t pay for one, but if you want to do something with it, do something with it while you’re learning it, but you don’t need a degree in it, but if you want to go into full-time ministry I think you should have a degree in it, because there’s something about being tested for your knowledge and all that and having something to show for it.

Kurt: There is value to the degree. Yep.

Johnathan: There is. I’m vice-president of a seminary. 

Kurt: Hilarious.

Johnathan: But I am saying don’t do this just for personal entertainment because you can get that, but you can audit courses. You can buy the books and audit the courses and not have to write the papers. It’s even better. You can still go to seminary and audit our courses at Trinity for $35 a course. [NP9] me and Braxton Hunter are on apologetics and Biblical studies. Don’t get a degree, but if you are going to get a degree, and I’m not saying you have to be a vocational minister to get a degree in seminary. Sometimes you just want the degree and you’re happy being a lawyer and you’re wealthier being a lawyer, but you want the degree anyway. We have a lot of people at Trinity that they do want the degree, they want the education. They are going to stay lay minister in their church. They just wanted to get the formal education. They’re happy with their job, and that’s fine, but really, if you are in seminary and if you are doing nothing in your local church, shame on you. That’s all I got to say.

Kurt: That’s a good word and a good encouragement as well to get going and do stuff. Hopefully, if you’re tuning in to this episode, we’re not just giving you a poke. We’re kicking you in the butt and saying get going and do something. Something will happen.

Johnathan: God will honor anything you do for His glory I’m convinced.

Kurt: The harvest is ready. The workers are few. The problem is not that we have enough workers. We need more workers. Always need more workers. Johnathan Pritchett. Thank you so much for coming on the program today. Great to chat with you, see you face to face, and to hear some of your well-grounded opinions on this matter and if we do an episode on fast food, we might just have to bring you on as a guest.

Johnathan: Yes. I am an expert in that. That’s objective truth, not an opinion. What I have to say about fast food is objective knowledge. Okay? It won’t be like this show here I just give opinions. It’ll be truth you can take, bet your life on. 

Kurt: Awesome. Thanks so much and God bless you.

Johnathan: Yes. God bless you too. Thank you.

Kurt: Alright. I hope this program has been edifying to you and been an encouragement for you to get out there and do the Lord’s work. I received a couple of emails last week with people thanking us for the segment on Billy Graham. I know it was a very special video that the Billy Graham Evangelical Association made so if you just have the opportunity to Google or YouTube that video go watch it, very inspirational for the work that Billy did and just like we’re talking about, he went out there and did work and look at how the Lord blessed his ministry. He didn’t wait for the paid position to be there. In fact, he started out in sales going door to door. He did what he had to do for the time being, while at the same time preaching the gospel and that led to his great wonderful ministry.

That does it for the show today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, Fox Restoration, and Non-Profit Megaphone. I want to thank our technical producer Chris, and our guest today Johnathan Pritchett, and last but not least I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. 

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Michael Chardavoyne

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