The Kindness of God at Our Pastors College Graduation

This was posted yesterday to the Sovereign Grace Ministries Plant and Build blog. On behalf of the Pastors College, we want to thank Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville for hosting the Pastors College and we want you to be encouraged about the difference your example has made in the lives of these men and their families.

This past Sunday, the Class of 2014 graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College.

The Lord has been faithful to us in many ways. His grace which sustained and strengthened these men throughout the year was on vivid display at their graduation. Consider, for instance, this email from a friend of one of our graduates, who traveled from Iowa to attend the ceremony:

Being at Dale’s graduation was one of those special experiences that words can’t convey.[…]As we witnessed graduation, so much about Sovereign Grace became clearer.[…]We have struggled finding a church in Iowa that even compares to what we experienced at Grace Church in Arizona. Seeing the group of men, the in-depth training, the one-on-one mentoring, and hearing the charge to them[…]—it all made sense. I can see now what makes Sovereign Grace different is what we experienced last night.

This observation captures what we saw so often throughout this year: God’s faithfulness to meet these students and their families with his transforming grace. And all because of the gospel.

So, what is this Pastors College? What do these men study? Why do they come and what do they aspire to do?

Our Purpose and Program

We exist to train pastors. And not mere clerics or religious professionals, but pastors whose lives and families and churches are built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. These men have been equipped to serve and to lead churches that proclaim the gospel and demonstrate its reality through transformed lives and vibrant witness.

On the diplomas the students received is 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” To help them “watch their doctrine,” they attended 33 weeks of class designed to provide them a biblical and theological foundation for pastoral ministry. These classes included:

  • 4 weeks of New Testament studies
  • 3 weeks of Old Testament studies
  • 7 weeks of Systematic Theology
  • 1 week of Biblical Theology
  • 3 weeks of Church History
  • 2 weeks of preaching studies/training
  • 6 weeks of pastoral ministry (i.e. biblical counseling, personal spiritual growth, the application and entailments of the gospel, etc.)
  • 1 week each of Hermeneutics, Apologetics, Ethics, & Evangelism
  • 1 week on Missiology & Church Planting
  • Courses on both Marriage and Parenting

In addition to all this, they spent three mornings per week on New Testament Greek. Thus, the students received one year’s worth of seminary-level Greek.

Why do we expect so much work from these students? Because the very foundation of pastoral ministry is the abiding truth of God’s Word. It is this Word that endures; it is this Word by which God reveals himself. It this Word through which God speaks; it is this Word by which God accomplishes his purposes in the world. Without the faithful wielding of God’s Word, there will ultimately be no faithful or effective pastoral ministry.

The program is also designed to cultivate godly character. So our students met in weekly fellowship groups where they linked arms to encourage and pray for each other. Their wives received specialized training to equip them to serve alongside their husbands. As couples, they spent the year in varied and intentional contexts to help each other delight more exclusively in God, rest more fully in his grace, battle sin, and grow in godliness. And they experienced all of this with an intimate connection to the local church at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville—which is of critical importance. Their training took specific account of the local church precisely because they are being equipped to serve in a local church context.

We hope you’ll rejoice with us as we thank God for these remarkable men and women who sacrificed much this year to be trained to serve the cause of the gospel. Please pray for these men as they join pastoral teams, plant churches, care for God’s people, and proclaim the gospel to the lost, all in the cause of the gospel and to the glory of God.

As Director of Theology and Training for Sovereign Grace, Jeff Purswell is the Dean of our Pastors College, leads our theological training, and helps develop theology resources. He is also an elder at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. He and his wife, Julie, have two sons.