Eric Mason instructs Seminarians what only Ministry can teach

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by Michael McEwen

In a humble spirit, Mason addressed the common realities of seminary and how ministry tends to intimidate ‘new’ pastors and leaders.

Mason is the co-founder and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA and President of Thriving, a ministry dedicated to aiding ethnic minorities to be resourced and trained for ministry to the urban context.

Mason drew from a number of texts for his message, “10 Things Seminary Didn’t Teach Me.” As a proper disclaimer before the message, Mason said his sermon was by no means a “bashing of any seminary; rather it is an honest, biblical perspective of what ministry teaches after seminary.”

Mason observed that seminary does not truly teach the seminarian how to deal with difficult people inside and outside the church context. Nor does such an education teach oneself how to deal with the difficult self. He remarked, “We are going to have to pursue God and his ways in the midst of temptations. The discipline Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 9 is that which deals with the frailties of our humanity.”

In a soft and serious tenor, Mason explained to men how they are to disciple and love their wives as a ministry in and of itself. “We are to shepherd our wives,” said Mason. “Because of and illustrated through the work of Christ on behalf of his church, the husband, in the same manner that Christ so loved his church, is to love and care for his wife.”

The average Seminarian, noted Mason, intellectually understands the deepest theologies and the hardest philosophical concepts, but, ultimately, we must be willing to allow the Spirit to capture our hearts and have intimate encounters with the triune God who has created and is redeeming all things. 

“We, also, are to have confidence in the gospel for impact. Paul, in Romans 1, is not necessarily giving a description of the gospel, but illumining the nature of the gospel itself and its comprehensive scope. It transforms not only souls, but also every dynamic structure of the world.”

Closing with his last point, Mason expressed that most, if not all, of ministry is done outside of the office. Illustrating this from Paul’s ministry in Acts, Mason said, “I could not spend 40-50 hours in my office, because ministry is a theology of shepherding, and in all honesty, we must recognize the privilege of seminary, but also I hope that we recognize that some things are not learned in the seminary setting.”

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