Theological Education Fit for Purpose: The Contours of Relevance in the Training of Ministers for Today’s Church

John O. Enyinnaya


A good amount of theological education literature is being generated on the relationship between training and usefulness to the church. For instance, Tim Dearborn (1995) published a study to determine the characteristics that are important for pastors to have in order to be successful in ministry and based on that to develop a theological education programme that will assist in developing those traits. Jaison Thomas, (2008) also studied the situation in Kerala, India, sampling theological educators, church leaders and theological students to unravel their perspective on what theological education should focus upon in order to be more useful to the church. The present study is similar to these previous efforts in methodology but different in focus. The attempt here is to try and determine a set of characteristics that could describe a good church in Nigeria today and then to establish a set of characteristics that could describe the kind of pastors that are likely to produce such a church. This should then assist theological institutions in Nigeria to decide how to focus their programmes towards the development of such ministers. To achieve this, different sections of the church is surveyed in line with contemporary viewpoints which prioritize the input of the community in the determination of educational programmes and their objectives. To give the study a concrete footing, the ministerial training programme of one institution is selected for evaluation based on the findings of the study. After the introduction, the paper discusses concerns being raised on the issue of relevance of theological education programmes. The findings from the study are then reported and salient issues highlighted and discussed. The paper concludes with a few recommendations that could further enhance the usefulness and relevance of theological education programmes for contemporary ministerial realities.

Keywords: Theological education in Nigeria, Spiritual Formation, Evangelism, Missions, Relevance in Theological Education

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