01 April 2008

Gleanings from 1894 Sword and Trowel; Pastors' College Statistics

Well, after that Fool’s Day diversion, it is time to return to better and more important things. In my reading I came across a report on the Pastor’s College that astounded me. I’ll provide the excerpt from the 1894 edition of the Sword and Trowel and then explain what captured me:

During the past thirty-eight years, nine hundred and nine men exclusive of those at present studying with us, have been received into the College, “of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some (ninety-six) are fallen asleep.” Making all deductions, there are about seven hundred and thirty brethren. Of these, six hundred and fifty-one are in our own denomination as Pastors, Missionaries, and Evangelists.

They may be thus summarized:--

Number of brethren who have been educated in the College...909
Number now in our ranks as Pastors, Missionaries and Evangelists...651
Number without Pastorates, but regularly engaged in the work of the Lord...30
Number not now engaged in the work, but useful in secular callings...28
Number educated for other Denominations...2
Number dead (Pastors, 87; Students, 9)...96
Number permanently invalided...15
Number removed from the College List for various reasons...87

To this “summary” the late beloved President in one of the Reports appended the following note: “The last were not removed from our list in all cases from causes which imply any dishonour, for many of them are doing good service to the common Lord under some other banner. We are sorry for their leaving us, and surprised that they should change their views; but this also is one of those mysteries of human life which are beyond our control.”

We ought to add, that for years past we have lost all traces of many of those referred to, and have reason to believe that several of them are dead.

I would love to hear your reaction to that little article. What amazes me is the high percentage of pastors, missionaries and evangelists that were produced in relation to the number of graduates from the Pastor’s College. I’m not versed in seminary stats, but I am astounded that well over 700 of 909 trained men went into full-time ministry.

What is your estimate of the reasons for that? Please comment.


Mike said...

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Jonathan Hunt said...

Good question.

Here is an answer:

It was a PASTOR's College, not today's idea of a 'seminary'. Mr Spurgeon wanted to equip those who were in most cases already preaching and serving the Lord. He didn't readily take young men with no experience who thought that the place would 'make' them pastors.

He was quite harsh in his admissions criteria. He was very well-known and would secure pastorates or pioneering opportunities for many men. Of course, as you have noted, the MT was planting many churches, so there were ample opportunities.

To compare TMS or any modern seminary with the Pastor's College is off the mark. Many of the men in the Pastor's college were getting basic education - literature and so forth - not 'just' divinity. They weren't getting accredited degrees either.

And a good number of the men were pastors before they went into the college too - they went to be better equipped. Many were very poor, uneducated in the things of this world, but they loved the Lord and His Word.

Just a few thoughts

reformedman said...

To add to Mr. Hunt, in 'Lectures to my Students' Spurgeon gives some very funny stories of some incidents with people who applied for the pastors college. His strongest concern was to only enroll people who were already pastors.

A very small amount were admitted who were not in any ministry but he was open to atleast hearing their interview. One particular story was very funny of a man who prided himself of being very educated and very able to preach. Spurgeon's reply to this man was that he (Spurgeon) was not worthy to even start listening to such a wonderful message, he wouldn't even listen to the visitor's sample sermon and dismissed him from the meeting.
Another case, of a pastor asking for entry; Spurgeon tested him on his pride by asking him to spell dog, cat, house, etc. After a long period of time the man answered everyone of these questions almost to the point of frustration. Spurgeon allowed him in with the understanding that he was able to listen, learn, and be patient.