Training Preachers: A Lesson From William Tennent

February 5, 2009 by


One of the greatest stories from Church History is the story of William Tennent. William Tennent was an Irish-born, Edinburgh-educated, Presbyterian Minister who came to the American Colonies in 1718. During this time he was known to have planted at least 3 churches in the New England States. After years of great success, his age no longer allowed him to travel the distance required to preach at his churches. William Tennent would no longer be able to plant churches, but he would be able to plant preachers. In the fall of 1726, Tennent started a school. But it wasn’t to be an ordinary school.

This was not to be a school where exams were taken on pieces of paper; instead, it was designed to prepare his students to endure in the work of the ministry. William Tennent had a vision to mentor young preachers in the skill of preaching. The place in which they met was called the “Log College”–a ragged, one-room log cabin located in the hills of Pennsylvania. No heat. No wi-fi. Just a lot of zeal. The Log College was not its original name. The name was actually a derogatory title given to it by the educated elite ministers of England, who chided Tennent for endeavoring to train poor, unfit, uneducated farm boys, who were considered by most unsuitable for the ministry.

But Tennent didn’t think so. Over a period of 20 years, William Tennent took dozens of these young farm boys and spiritually and intellectually poured his life into them, training them in the ancient languages and giving them a zeal for souls. When the time came, these men were ready. At the crest of the Great Awakening—that spiritual revival that swept across the American colonies—these young men were sent out burning with a passion to convert sinners from the power of Satan to the power of God. Every one of them risked their lives and labored faithfully to convince their hearers of their ruined condition, and of the necessity of a thorough conversion from sin. By the time it was over, William would also have sent out four of his own sons. Combined, these young men created such an impact in Great Awakening that George Whitfield, who spearheaded the Revival, commented on the lasting influence these young men had on the Revival.

These young men may be said to have lived fast. They did much for their Lord in a short time. Being burning as well as shining lights, they were themselves consumed while they gave light to others. Oh that a race of ministers – like-minded, burning with a consuming zeal – might be raised up in every generation.

Many of these young men went on to spend the rest of their lives on horseback, riding nearly 100 miles a week and preaching nearly twice a day. They endured malaria, fatigue, hostility and the incurable, looming disease of depression . . . all for the sake of the gospel. As a result of their intense labor in the vineyard, most of them did not live past the age of 40.

Because of the Log College and the vision of William Tennent, their ministries not only endured but prospered throughout their lifetime.

It has been said that it is certain that few, if any, of those young men who were brought forward to the work of the ministry could ever have endured had it not been for the mentoring of William Tennent.

That is the kind of mentality and thriving ministry young men our age had 200 years ago.

Several lessons can be learned from this

  • William Tennent was a church planter; he not only trained his students in the original language, but he himself was a model for his students
  • A partnership between the old and the young–between Tennent and his students–resulted in a powerful weapon for the gospel that spread the wake of revival

We need William Tennents in our day. We need Log Colleges. We need both the seminaries and the training of a seasoned pastor who has endured both the triumphs and the failures of the pulpit. We need pastors who are willing to take a young, passionate preacher and release him towards a Kingdom target.

That’s why we are encouraged to hear of schools like Sovereign Grace’s Pastors College started by C.J. Mahaney, or the long anticipated Bethlehem Institute started by John Piper. These are the present-day Log Colleges. We need more. We need these to start up in our own churches. We need pastors with a vision to train up the warriors in their own church and prepare them to do battle in the pulpit. We need the young men of our day to see the value of rigorous, seminary training with the hands-on experience of a local pastor.

  • Is there a William Tennent in your church?
  • What is the value of having both a theological and practical education?

Economy Threatens Seminaries

January 13, 2009 by


An article in Christianity Today came out yesterday declaring many seminaries in a financial bind.  We should commit to praying for these flag-ship schools, that they might continue to carry on the message of Jesus Christ.  For the year of 2008:

†Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary: Lost $600,000 in endowment income

†Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: Lost 1 million in endowment income; will need to make cuts and lay offs.

†Trinity Evangelical School did not suffer as much, but enrollment is down much further than usual.

Read the rest of the article here

Guarding the Wall

December 31, 2008 by

Recently one of our pastors found himself engaged in a theological discussion in a public forum. It all started after he had written a letter to local pastors encouraging them to attend an event that our church was hosting. The letter soon appeared in a local online publication with a response from another pastor. What came next was a heated online discussion of the fundamentals of the faith.

It has caused me to think about the importance of actively defending the faith. One of the qualifications for an elder is that he is able to recognize and refute false doctrine, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it,” (Titus 1:9).

The teaching of false doctrine is deserving of being cast into hell: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed,” (Galatians 1:8) Let him be accursed (eternally condemned NIV) (condemned to hell NET). The gravity of teaching what is false can be sensed on this passage. It is not something that can be dealt with lightly. It is cause to stand on the wall and warn the teacher of the danger he is putting himself in. It is cause to also warn those who are under his care and teaching.

A false teacher should not be welcomed into your home: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works,” (2 John 10-11). They are teachers of myths and factions. To invite them into your home to have tea and cookies is endorsing what they are doing.

We need pastors to be willing to stand in the face of adversity and defend the faith. We need good men that aren’t afraid of being called a fundamentalist, or intolerant, or arrogant. Seems to me it is better than being called a backslider, or a heretic, or a wolf.

Some have raised the question of whether or not our pastor was justified in engaging others in the arena that he did. But we can’t always choose the arena. Sometimes we can hold forums and public discussions and address theological error. But sometimes the fight comes right to us and we have to decide whether we are going to flee or fight. I would argue that it is the place of the elder to fight, to call false teaching what it is and to protect the sanctity of the faith.

I am thankful for my pastor who is willing be on the wall guarding the flock.

Erwin Lutzer: What is biblical Eldership?

December 18, 2008 by

Erwin Lutzer, a member of the gospel coalition, gives a helpful account of biblical eldership in the Church.

One area he seems to emphasizes is plurality.  While there is much debate on whether a church needs to have multiple elders (Titus 1:5) or only one (1 Timothy 3), it certainly seems the wisest course of action to govern a church with multiple, qualified, sword wielding men who can stand shoulder to shoulder and guard the pen from wolves (and from the occasional sheep who believes their calling in life is to be snipers for Christ).

If you want to read more on the issue, an excellent resource we have found helpful in the area of eldership is Alexander Strauch’s book: Biblical Eldership.


A Day With Don (Carson); Don’t Miss It

December 5, 2008 by


Tonight I’m heading up Seattle way to attend a conference by D.A. Carson at Mars Hill. Mark Driscoll is hosting Dr. Carson for a full “day of Don.” The price of admission? 5 bucks for seminary students. 5 bucks?? That won’t get you a mocha anymore, and now it will get you a whole day with the man whose written more books than I’ve read! Unbelievable.

If you are a Timothy near the Seattle or Portland area, don’t miss out on this. Come hang out with Don (and me).

Hope to see you there! (I’ll be towards the front)

General Admission: $15

Students: $5

To see the schedule, click here

Learn How to Be Mentored by Books

December 3, 2008 by


I believe a means a grace God has given us has been the preservation of the thoughts of His saints in the form of books.  I bless God for books.  I bless God for the printing press.  I bless God for Amazon. Within the pages of books there are many treasures to find and friends to meet—freinds that will tell you how they understood a certain passage or how they dealt with a certain trial, or how they lived a certain life despite the seemingly unbearable hardship.  I love books.  Books are an endless resource to a Timothy in training . . . if he is wise enough to foresee it and use it.  And the more books he stacks on his shelf better he can equip himself for the preparation of becoming an elder—whether he’s in seminary or not.

1. Learn how to become a Reader

I cannot tell you how many grown men say to me, “Well, I’m just not a reader.” You should be rebuked. God has preserved a storehouse of wisdom for you in books, and you should be a good steward of the vast resources that has been made available to you. There simply is no excuse to be ignorant regarding any aspect of theology.  300 years ago, most library’s consisted of 200 books at the most—I have that many if not more.  Here in the West, we’ve become inoculated to the amount of resources that are available to us.  There’s books on-line, books on CD, books on i-pods . . .oh yea, and books on paper.

But my first caution to you would be this: Don’t read just any book. As the author of Ecclesiastes has noted, “Of the writing of books there is no end”. There may be many books that are popular at the moment but they will not stand the test of time.  Why?  Because most are absent of the aroma of Scripture and merely contain random, Bible-less babble—men trying to think thoughts after God without consulting the Book He wrote about Himself.  Sometimes the best books are those which have been around for 300 years! On the other hand, there is a remnant even in our day of men who are pumping out at accelerated rates wonderfull books.  Men like Piper, Mahaney, MacArthur, Sproul, Dever, Keller and a host of others are worth your money and time.

Spend your money on tools, not toys.

You should have all kinds of books in your library:

–books on philosophy: how do we think and how to we know truth and which source of truth should we read.

–books on theology: how do we understand that truth;

–biographies: how has that truth been proclaimed and maintained throughout the centuries;

–and finally, apologetics: how is that truth to be delivered.

Read for pleasure; if you’re not enjoying these books you’re not reading them correctly.

2. Learn How to Be Mentored by Dead Men

Believe it or not, but I have close to over 100 mentors who live in my own house. They live on my bookshelf. I cannot tell you how many authors have walked beside me during many dark valleys in my life, and I have found the best medicine for a storm-tossed soul is old books—especially biographies of old saints. When I am discouraged and downcast of soul, I rarely go to the country to get a spiritual breath of fresh air; I always go to the years prior to the 19th Century.

Luther, Richard Sibbs, Richard Baxter, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathon Edwards, David Brainard, Charles Spurgeon,

There are literally thousands of men who are very qualified to shed light on any situation in which you may find yourself in.  You just need to learn how to read and what to read.

C.S. Lewis once said:

“If you don’t read the older books you starve yourself.”

As I have just mentioned there are many authors to choose from . . . and I would recommend reading them all! But if that sounds like a little too much, my advice to you would be to pick someone from the past and read all you can about that person. Read their biography; read their works; begin to think like them; begin to talk like them; imitate their faith, and eventually you may find yourself loving the Word and Cherishing Christ like they did.

We often become like the friends we hang out with. I dress like the friends I hang out with; I talk like the friends I hang out with. When you pick wise, godly friends in books you begin to become like them. Become like your friends.

3. Learn how to Use Church History as a Mentor

Biographies help you to know men of the past; Church History helps you to know events of the past—both of which are able to keep you from error. Many Christians today suffer from historical amnesia. In their minds the gap between Jesus’ ascension to their own day is usually a giant blank. It is my opinion that every believer should have in their hands at least one good, church history book. Church history informs you of the past, encourages you for the present, and gives you hope for the future.

Become a consumer of books and you can give yourself a glorious education even if you’re never been able to attend seminary.  You’ll learn doctrine; you’ll meet new friends.

4. The Importance of Reading Other Material

I used to be a Puritan in the area of reading, meaning this: I have never read anything other than theology books.  But I have come to learn the importance of giving my mind a break, especially since I’m in seminary.  The mind needs a break, not from God, but from the same type of books that require the same type of thinking.  The brain needs to think on many different levels, not just one.  I often find that my mind simply cannot function as well by always reading one type of genre (i.e. theolgoy books/philosophy books).  Don’t get me wrong, I would like it if I only could read theology books, but I’ve learned that if I read other genres than it helps me to think better and think clearer when I pick up my theology book.

Hey, even the Bible contains three different genres, so I think I’m safe in saying we as seminary students need also to have a trilogy, biography, or historical narrative close by to give our minds the mental breaks they need.  But remember to supplement them in moderate proportions.  Read enough of other books in order to read theology books with greater care and thought.

5. The Danger of Stuffing Your Shelf Full of Books You Never Read

Be honest, how many books are on your shelf that have never been read?  I bear the guilt of this myself.  Countless of times I have entered a book sale or attended a conference that provides books for a ridiculously-low-price only to greedily buy several books that are “oh so good” . . . and then they sit on my shelf and condemn me.  I have one shelf simply devoted to “Books to read”.  This can become a problem.  There is nothing worse than having a great book in which you’ve never read.  Oh that we would buy good books; and oh that we would read them!

Set goals for yourself.  If you’ve bought several books, discipline yourself not to buy any more until you’ve finished them . . . unless it’s a really good deal!

6. Don’t Neglect the Word

Finally, while there are many books that are worth our time, we must not fail to read that book in which all others are written.  Let the Scriptures be your true source of joy and study, for there is truly only one book worth reading . . . and reading again . . . and again . . . and again . . .

:: Prepare for Battle ::

Theology Meets Life

November 28, 2008 by

Steven Marquardt, a “Timothy” and seminary student who just joined the “Timothy” blog roll, has started an excellent new blog that I urge you to read.  Theology Meets Life is the title of the new blog, and for any of you pursuing formal theological studies, I would go as far as saying, this first post is a must read. 

Steven includes a quote from Helmut Thielicke, who was a 20th century German theologian from the Neoorthodox tradition.  While Thielicke is a product of his theological tradition in many respects, Marquardt is not the only grounded evangelical who gives A Little Exercise for Young Theologians  (one of Thielicke’s over fifty books), a stellar review.  The Theilicke quote that Marquardt shares from this book is one that I wish I would have read daily as I first began to press deeper into theological studies.  However, I’m thankful to have it now, and I hope to bring you a full review of this little book after I finish reading it. 

The conclusion to Marquardt’s first post is:

when the truths we are learning about God and His word do not lead to an increased love for God and a greater desire to edify His people and reach the lost, we are running the risk of theological infatuation.

Lord, grant me true repentance for the times I have tried to use your Word for purposes other than you intend.  Forgive me for falling into theological infatuation which causes my learning to be motivated by something other than a genuine love for you.  Restore me to a place in which, every insight I have about you, brings me closer to you, grants me more faith and trust, and serves in being a conduit for sanctifying grace!

“Timothy” Blogs

November 21, 2008 by


We are simply proponents of an idea, that we believe is biblical, and hope to be a tool in the reform of the way ministers are raised up in the Church.  There are many “Timothys” out there who have been practicing the concepts that we advocate for a longer amount of time and with more consistency than us, and we want to promote their success.  We are a few of many “Timothys”, and we are simply serving as a mouthpiece for the many.

Simply put, we want your blog.  We want your voice.  Add your blog to our new “Timothy” blog roll!

If you blog, and you are a “Timothy” who is engaging in mentorship, theological education, pre-eldership ministry and the development of character as preparation for leadership in tomorrow’s Church, we want to promote your blog.

Or, if you are not a “Timothy” per say, but are an ardent supporter of the Paul & Timothy concept (and you blog about it!), we want to promote your blog.

Simply comment in response to this post and we will add you to the new “Timothy” blog roll.  To view our mission page, click here.

Preach The Word :: The Paul and Timothy Guys