Equipping Evangelical Pastors

Too many of our pastors are over-worked and under-equipped.

Today our pastors are expected to be not merely good exegetes, good speakers, good researchers, and good administrators, but also experts in human psychology, able to faithfully and effectively counsel their flocks through a million and one moral quandaries and life trials. It is unrealistic to expect them to do this effectively on their own. Pastors need a strong network of moral and intellectual support, and a link to the accumulated wisdom of past centuries, a wisdom that rejected both the ditch of narrow biblicism (as if the Bible contained all the answers to any counseling situation) and the ditch of secular psychology (as if we could effectively and diagnose psychological problems without taking into account sin and spiritual problems).

What can we do about it?

To help meet this need, the Davenant Institute is working on three fronts.

First, we aim to break down the barriers of suspicion between Christians committed to a fully “biblical” approach to addressing pastoral problems and those more attached to modern “scientific” methods, by showing that these barriers are built on a false opposition of grace and nature, faith and reason. It is not enough to name the spiritual problem behind a certain behavior or struggle; one must understand how human beings work to effectively diagnose and care for each particular struggling soul, and this requires a knowledge of human nature that draws on many intellectual tools—not to mention experience.  

Second, we aim to show the church today that our Protestant forebears understood the complexity of the pastoral task well, and effectively deployed their knowledge of both Scripture and human nature to train physicians of the soul; their work should continue to inspire and inform us today.

Third, we aim to provide overburdened pastors with strong networks of support, encouragement, and teaching, by integrating them into a community of intellectually rigorous pastors and ecclesially-minded evangelical scholars and teachers.

Concretely, we plan to publish valuable resources—both old and new—that effectively address these questions, to continue holding Convivia Irenica through which we can invite pastors into our network of friendship and encouragement, and to organize intensive seminars for pastors offering primers in Protestant moral theology and inviting discussion on how to apply it to ministry today.

We have already begun to see great fruits from this work. Many of the attendees who come to our National Convivium every year have been pastors, and all have come away deeply encouraged and strengthened for their work of ministry. 

“My association with the Davenant network of friends has been a kind of second seminary for me. Not only has it introduced me to worlds of thought I didn’t know existed, or knew little about, it has provided companions with whom to journey through these worlds in an atmosphere of mutual care and trust. I could not even measure how my pastoral work has been enriched in the process. The care of souls requires immense wisdom, and I know of no better school of wisdom than what’s going on in and around the Davenant Institute.”—Benjamin Miller, Trinity Church Syosset

Many others have followed our work online and expressed how deeply they have been blessed by it in precisely the ways outlined above.

“There are days when Western cultural collapse seems imminent, and my church ministry seems impotent.  With pressure from outside and confusion within, I’ve struggled to respond adequately to mounting intellectual and spiritual needs of both congregants, community members, and family.  I’m thankful for the ministry of The Davenant Institute because it has made affordable and available the invaluable resources in areas of Natural Law, biblical exegesis, and perennial ecclesiastical debates (like sacraments, church government, and preaching and philosophy) that I lacked after graduating from a prominent Reformed seminary.  This was not the seminary’s fault, but a need I had nonetheless, and one which TDI continues to fill. As a result, I’ve had a better grasp on hidden assumptions of cultural pressures and intellectual movements, and have found a deeper well for ongoing ministries of preaching, counseling, visitation, and prayer.”—Jonathan McGuire, First Presbyterian Church, Belzoni, MS

To continue to advance this work, we want to begin hosting two or three intensive seminars for pastors per year in Protestant moral theology, ideally in a retreat setting such as we use for our annual Convivium Irenicum.

What can you do about it?

To run these seminars, we will need your help. The cost of running these events would likely be around $400 per participant, but we would like to keep the cost to only $125 to encourage participation from pastors from smaller, understaffed churches.

Please consider giving to provide $275 scholarships for attendees; we are seeking to raise $6,600 for a total of 24 scholarships.

  • Your gift of $275 could provide a scholarship for one pastor to attend a full two-day seminar on Protestant moral theology.
  • With $6,600, we would be able to hold three seminars for eight pastors each at a cost of just $125/person.  

Please consider giving to this important initiative, and help us equip pastors with the resources they need for the mighty task of shepherding souls.