Brown’s life before his conversion, his godly upbringing, had all prepared him in many ways for this life’s work of pastoring, but Brown knew he needed more training. So he applied to the newly formed pastor’s college at the Metropolitan Tabernacle where Charles Spurgeon was the pastor.
The Pastor’s College
“Spurgeon believed that churches had no greater need, at the human level, than the provision of earnest, Spirit-anointed preachers.” The students formed deep friendships, even with Spurgeon, the school’s president, and laughter was common, but the overall mood was one of seriousness as they were trained for pastoral ministry.
Spurgeon didn’t believe the college produced pastors, “that is the work of the Holy Spirit alone,” but the purpose of the college was to ground the men in “the well-tried doctrinal heritage of historic, evangelical Christianity.” All of which was becoming less and less popular in Victorian England.
Spurgeon was following the example of Paul who exhorted his student Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2)
This is how the gospel is passed on from one generation to the next– faithfully passing on what you have learned to others who will be able to teach it to others. Paul to Timothy, Timothy to faithful men, faithful men to others.
Every Christian is called to this kind of “handing down ministry” to a certain degree but this responsibility is especially entrusted to pastor-preachers. That’s why Spurgeon started the Pastor’s College, it’s why he invested hours with these students, pouring into them, passing on what he himself had received.
Some lessons Spurgeon taught Brown that would mark his whole ministry:
1. It was a policy of the College to teach men to preach without a manuscript! No sermon notes! We would fail Spurgeon’s standards at Covenant Hope but we did include this as an exercise in our first week with the new interns and all the pastoral staff participated. Each one of us was assigned a verse to preach and given 60 seconds to prepare a 5 minute talk. It was actually really encouraging, as well as challenging. Preachers should be ready to preach “in season and out of season!” (2 Tim 4:1-2)
2. Use of illustrations in teaching and preaching. “If he could present the truth as a picture, as well as a proposition in words, he would do so.”
3. The emphasis on salvation given that we might serve God. “Redemption then service. God never saved a man to let him have an easy life.” The point being that the gospel declares us holy, and makes us holy. It is the ground for both our justification and our sanctification.
Pray for our pastors/elders as we seek to grow in rightly handling the word of truth so that it bears fruit in our church. Pray Covenant Hope Church would be marked by service for the LORD flowing from our salvation in the Lord Jesus, who came to serve us by giving his life as a ransom.
While we don’t have a Pastor’s College, our Pastoral Internship is driven by the same convictions that motivated Spurgeon to train Brown and his fellow students.
So pray for our interns to grow to serve faithfully and be equipped to teach others also.
Get to know them, have them and their families over for dinner. Encourage them in this season of preparation.
Grace and peace,