I grow tired here in Oregon that the only churches getting any press are conservative, Evangelical, churches. These churches are indeed ubiquitous. They are the mega-churches. They are also little store-front churches that may typically be “run” by pastoral staffs that have little or no pastoral, let alone theological, education. Some may be well educated persons. They may be educators, ex-social workers, even some as useful as psychologists/psychotherapists. But they are not “pastors.”
Once I went to visit a woman in the hospital who had served the Evangelical seminary well as an administrative assistant for years. She was in the final stages of cancer. It was decided that the whole seminary faculty would go to see her one last time. (It did turn out to be the very last time.) I went with them. The faculty gathered in the surgical waiting room to prepare for the visit. They could not decide what to do! The seminary faculty did not know what to do!
While they stood around trying to make a strategy, I became disgusted and walked down to her room, gave her a hug, stroked her bald head and spoke quietly with her. She was afraid, of course. When the faculty finally showed up, they walked in and announced they were going to sing a couple of old favorite hymns.
When they finished these, they proceeded to do what many rookie pastors do in uncomfortable situations, especially when they are accompanied by another pastor/chaplain or family member. They began to talk over her. That is, to talk as if the patient is not even there. When I was training, we called this cross-bed talking. It’s a big “no-no.” If you cannot address the patient comfortably, then you really shouldn’t be there. Of course, this means you would need to have come to terms, at some level, with your own mortality.
I have crassly commented that Evangelical seminaries are real good at teaching pastors how to sing choruses and religious rock-and-roll and not much more. To be honest, though, they do talk in Evangelical seminaries about theology (conservative theology, of course) which, in my opinion, tends to be not broad or inclusive enough.
Yeah, I am liberal. And, if you are an Evangelical, you may consider me to be all wrong, maybe not even a Christian. But, these are a tiny few of my thoughts and some very basic observation. I cannot, however, be dismissed. I was the theological librarian for this seminary for 15 years and I have 18 years of pastoral experience along with 8 years of formal ministry and theological education.