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Is theological education for me?

Jared Hood
Academic Dean

People choose to study at the PTC for all sorts of reasons. Some want to expand their personal appreciation of God's Word. However, the majority of our students are aiming to take up some form of Christian ministry.

Is God calling you to a specific Kingdom ministry? How will you know if He is? What is the call of God?

All colleges have their strengths and distinctive traits. 

At PTC we are no exception. Here are some of the reasons to choose to come study and train with us:

We have a strong commitment to the written Word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments

As a result our classes encourage a mastery of the biblical languages, exegesis of the biblical texts, and serious reflection on the great concepts and truths of Scripture in biblical and systematic theology.

We aim to combine heads, hearts and hands in a balanced and integrated approach to Christian worship and service

In this way we hope to avoid the extremes of cold intellectualism on the one hand, and shallow enthusiasm on the other.

Our faculty are all experienced leaders who have known the pressures of pastoral ministry, and the ongoing demands of biblical scholarship

They bring to the classroom a wealth of Christian knowledge, practical wisdom and pastoral care.

We have a particular commitment to the historical theology of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods, that have done so much to shape the classical Evangelical faith that has come down to us today.

We foster a clear missionary vision of Christian outreach both in Australia and around the world

We rejoice in the diverse ethnicity of our students and the need for global vision in studying and relating the whole Gospel to the whole world for the whole people of God.

The Bible's Call

First, all Christians are called by God. His Spirit, speaking through the Scriptures, calls people out of darkness into life, and from out of the world into sanctification and holiness of life.

All Christians, then, seek to honour God, serve the body of Christ, and promote the Gospel in their circles of influence.

The Church's Call

However, there are specific ministries that the Church entrusts to individuals. In Scripture, we see the Church taking special care about assigning roles relating to the public teaching of the Word, the authoritative shepherding of the flock, and works of service done on behalf of the Church and with the Church's resources.

These are offices and ministries that require the approval of the eldership and/or Church community. Thus, the Church places its call upon an individual's life.

Timothy was instructed to 'appoint elders'. They needed to be tested and approved. Deacons also were appointed when it 'seemed good to us'.

This call from the Church is a divine call, for the Church is discerning of the gifts that Christ has bestowed (Eph 2:20).

Personal Conviction

Having accepted the Church's call to take up a particular office or ministry, one may speak of being 'called' to that role. 

However, how can you know if this is right for you, and if you should put yourself forward to the Church in the first place? 

For this, you need to have a personal conviction that such a role is suitable for you. This involves:

  1. self-awareness: discerning your own character, God-given gifts, and capacity to grasp the necessary knowledge-base for the role.
  2. reflecting carefully upon the advice of your elders and God's people.
  3. wisdom (as promised by God to those who ask), so as to determine if you will fit into a particular ministry or missionary context, etc.
  4. personal desire. 1 Tim. 3:1 speaks of those who 'desire' to be overseers, meaning a special concern for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of others.

If you and your Church discern that you have particular gifts for ministry, then you should develop and use those gifts!

Compelled to Serve

Having assessed their lives and been approved by the Church, many in the ordained ministry will speak of their deep personal conviction that they must preach the Gospel.

Their inner awareness can seem to be like the prophets and apostles: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.' Missionaries also will often speak of sensing a call to a particular country or people group. 

Again, this is a combination of self-awareness, the Church's guidance, God-given wisdom and personal desire. 

If we ask God for wisdom about how to serve Him, should we doubt that He provides?

Not an inner light

If you want to know God's call in your life, you do not need to search for a special revelation from heaven just to you. God's will expressed in Scripture is for all Christians, but God's hidden will with regard to the course of your life is not always something He discloses in advance.

We might wish that God would give us a Damascus Road experience, but He expects us rather to use our minds, to rely on the wisdom He gives, to listen to the Church, and to seek His glory.

Next steps

  1. Ask God for wisdom.
  2. Consider relevant Scripture passages, such as 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, which speak of the qualities, skills and knowledge needed to be an elder in the Church.
  3. Reflect carefully on your character, gifts and capacity for theological training.
  4. Speak with your pastor and/or elders.
  5. Seek opportunities to be tested (1 Tim. 3:10). This could involve taking up ministry opportunities in your Church, but could also include commencing a course of study at PTC. One of the shorter courses may be a good way to start.
  6. If you still desire to take up a particular ministry, Church bodies and Christian organizations have processes in place to assist you. This may include undertaking theological education such as is provided at PTC.
  7. Accept the guidance that the Church gives, and wait to see where God ends up taking you!

May God bless you as you think about God's direction for your life!

Jared Hood
Academic Dean