Playtime and Real Life

by Harley Voogd

It seems the line between playtime and real life is fading these days. I see this everywhere, but here I want to focus on Bible College.

Here’s what I mean by playtime and real life:

In playtime, you decide when things will begin, and when they’ll end. Also, what you do in playtime has no impact on the outside world around you. For example, think of a paintball game. In a paintball game you’re playing war. You and your friends decide you will “fight” from 9am till 2pm, with a break for lunch in between. Even though you are shooting at each other, no one is going to die or be seriously injured. Your play war will have no impact on the outside world; no one cares what you are doing in your little arena. No one outside or inside your game is going to change their lives on account of it.

Real war, however, is different. No one knows when a real war begins or when it will end. Everyone’s lives, inside the war and around it, will be affected. There are great responsibilities in war, for the foot soldier and the general. Death is real.

In some Bible Colleges there is a thing called “practical ministry” — where the students are supposed to get “real world” experience. But that is not what they get…

  
In “practical ministry,” playtime is confused with real life. No one is living real life in school. Practical ministry should really be called “playtime ministry.” Playtime is sometimes good as a way to learn about real life, but only as long as everyone understands the difference between the two and does not get them confused.

Practical equals reality. We need schools like this…

  
This confusion of playtime and real life carry on after the student has finished school, which is when the student faces the harsh reality and finds it is not what they expected.

Rather than having “practical experience” I think it would better to have an apprenticeship program. Students remain in the classroom full days for the first two years, learning all the theory they need. Then, if they pass that stage, they are assigned to a real ministry and apprentice there for an additional two (or more) years. There they will be trained in a real world situation, complete with all the responsibilities that come with it. Once their apprenticeship is complete, they will be ready to go out on their own.

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