There is a model of training in Clinical psychology called the Scientist-Practitioner Model (or Boulder Model) of training. When graduate psychology programs use this model they implement as close to a 50/50 balance between research and practice in their training as possible. The thought is researchers are most effective if they also do therapy and therapists are most effective if they are doing research. This keeps ivory tower researchers from being developed away from real people and real problems.
When it comes to training for ministry we implement something along the lines of 90 research/10 practice. Our classes are more effective if the students are in the trenches and their ministry is better informed if they are receiving ministry education in the classroom. The two go hand-in-hand. I am afraid that often ministry education can be easily disconnected from real people and real problems. It can then become impractical or people get shell shocked when they go and do ministry in the “real world” because they had no idea how to handle conflict, how to lead anyone, how to cast a biblical vision and implement it, or how to deal with elders, church members and other ministers.
Jesus knew that his disciples needed both instruction and practice. It wasn’t enough just to teach them. He also had to send them. When they got back they talked about what happened. I don’t mean to read too much into the text on this or find this model all over the Bible but I do think it is effective. How would ministry education change if we had a better balance between the classroom and ministry in the trenches?