Are Preaching Schools authorized in the Bible? Should a church be paying teachers there and/or paying students to go to school? Thank you in advance for your thoughts on this.—James D.
Thanks for writing. In order to discover the answer to your question, we need to go to the Scripture and notice certain things. We must also keep in mind that if God gives a command, but doesn’t tell us how we are to carry it out, then the how is left to our own judgment (so long as it doesn’t violate another command of God). For example, Jesus said to “go teach all nations.” He said to go and to teach, but He didn’t say how we were to go—it could be on foot, by car, airplane, by horse, etc… He also didn’t say how we were to teach all nations—it could be in person, via correspondence courses, books, DVDs, television/radio, over the phone, etc… This is an important principle to keep in mind as we look at this question.
First, the command to teach men is found in 2 Timothy 2:2. This is Timothy teaching men (plural). Paul doesn’t say, “teach men in your house.” He doesn’t say, “Teach them at the church building.” He says simply to teach them. The specifics (time, place, length, setting, etc…) are not given, thus Timothy had liberty to do the teaching where and when he saw fit. If Timothy had set up his own “School of Preaching,” he would have not added nor taken away from the command given, nor would he have violated it at all—it would simply have been an expedient to obey the command to teach men.
We, therefore, have Scriptural authority for an individual Christian teaching others in whatever way is deemed expedient. But what about a congregation? After all (in case you are unaware), every school of preaching is the work of a specific congregation.
The purpose of a “school of preaching” is to build up Christians so that they will be able to go out and teach others (see Hebrews 5:12). This is something to be done individually (II Timothy 4:2) but also collectively as a congregation (Ephesians 4:12, 16). The specifics of where, what time, setting, etc… are not given, and thus the HOW of the “building up” of the saints, helping them to grow as they are taught, is a matter of opinion/expediency.
These above things being true, a congregation can set up a school of preaching to teach men, and they have not violated any command of the Scriptures.
Second, regarding the funding aspect—The apostle Paul received financial aid from several congregations in order for him to preach the gospel to the lost, but also to help Christians become grounded in the faith and to be prepared to teach others. Thus we have a divinely approved example of a preacher/teacher being supported by other congregations while he works to build up the saints. The ones being taught in a preacher training school are saints, thus it follows this divinely approved example.
Third, regarding supporting students—you’re not paying them to go to school. That is a misnomer. You’re sending money so that they can live WHILE going to school. Several congregations gathered money and sent it to the poor saints in Jerusalem so that they could live. This money was collected by one trustworthy person who wasn’t a part of their congregations, and taken to be left with the church in Jerusalem for the elders there to disperse as needed. If it is permissible—and even commanded—for congregations to send money to help Christians who needed it to be able to eat and live, then it is permissible to do the exact same thing for Christians today who have dedicated themselves to the study and spread of God’s word.
Though some people are opposed to the idea of preaching schools, the Bible gives authority for these works to exist.
-Bradley S. Cobb