Following is an excerpt from a letter by Charles Spurgeon to S.S. Cutting, D.D., Secretary of the American Baptist Education Committee. In it he sets out his thoughts for a school of theology for "plain" ministers. I thought his comment that "Change of work is recreation" was particularly interesting. It would make a good bumper sticker.
1. Found a College into which men with an ordinary English education can be admitted without being degraded by comparison with graduates of secular universities.
2. Set before the men no ambition after scholarship for its own sake, but keep them to the one aim off being soul-winners and edifiers of the saints -- therefore do not aim at degrees, etc.
3. Provide for poor men all necessaries -- board, lodging, clothes, books, in fact, all they want.
4. Keep all this at the cheapest rate, that men may not form habits they cannot afterward live up to.
5. Affiliate the College to a large working church. Expect the men to be members, and during the first six months workers in the schools, etc.
6. Keep the period of study short, say two to three years. Never exceed this. Men who cannot do in that time, are no great good for rough work.
7. Give every man the first three or six months as probation, and constantly weed out the idle, vain, inefficient, or devoid of zeal.
8. Keep up the devotional spirit by giving half a day in the week for nothing but prayer. Begin each class with prayer.
9. Make them live in Christian families, and send round a Christianb man constantly to inquire as to habits, domestic, moral, etc.
10. Make it known by your magazines and papers that men can be received and are wanted. See my yearly Almanac.
11. Do not embarrass the President with committees, etc.
12. Sort the men and do not make the studies in each case the same. Some never will learn classics; some will readily.
13. Have frequent sermonizings, discussions, etc., and encourage estempore speach.
14. Let a man who is really a good fellow stay till a place is ready for him; and let him come back, if, in his first church, he does not succeed. Keep him with you another term and let him try again.
15. With poor men keep up a system of traveling libraries to keep them in books and help them to go on educating themselves.
16. Let tutors be brethren to the men, not lords. The more familiar the intercourse the deeper the love and the truer the respect.
17. Call in pastors, missionaries, and successful workers to talk to the men and tell them their experiences.
18. Keep the men to outdoor preaching and encourage them to be winning souls while students.
19. Make the physical sciences a great point; they furnish illustrations, relieve the severity of study, and enlarge the mind. Change of work is recreation.
20. Keep the church praying for them. Interest the church by meetings in which the men speak. Let beginners speak, and then in after months the people will remark their progress, and see the reality of their preparation.
21. Believe in Dr. Francis Wayland's "Principles of the Baptists," and practically carry them out.
22. The Lord, the Holy Spirit direct you, and bless you with his guidance; follow that guidance, and not my recommendations wherin they fail.
“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."”
– John 14:6