Philipp Spener’s 1675 book Pia Desideria outlines what had gone wrong with the Lutheran church in his era and he makes some proposals for how it might be fixed. Here’s what he suggested in how to pastors should be trained:
The professors could themselves accomplish a great deal by their example (indeed, without them a real reform is hardly to be hoped for) if they would conduct themselves as men who have died unto the world, in everything would seek not their own glory, gain, or pleasure but rather the glory of their God and the salvation of those entrusted to them, and would accommodate all their studies, writing of books, lessons, lectures, disputations, and other activities to this end. Then the students would have a living example according to which they might regulate their life, for we are so fashioned that examples are as effective for us as teachings, and sometimes more effective. Gregory Nazianzen declared that Basil’s speech was like thunder because his life was like lightning.
Students should unceasingly have it impressed upon them that holy life is not of less consequence than diligence and study, indeed that study without piety is worthless. The well-known saying of old Justin should always be in our minds: the reality of our religion consists not of words but of deeds. Justin learned this from St. Paul, “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (I Cor. 4:20). Students should constantly be reminded that the rule in human life is, whoever grows in learning and declines in morals is on the decrease rather than the increase. This is even more valid in spiritual life, for since theology is a practical discipline, everything must be directed to the practice of faith and life.
Just because theology is a practical discipline and does not consist only of knowledge, study alone is not enough, nor is the mere accumulation and imparting of information. Accordingly thought should be given to ways of instituting all kinds of exercises through which students may become accustomed to and experienced in those things which belong to practice and to their edification. It would be desirable if such materials were earnestly treated in certain lectures, especially if the rules of conduct which we have from our dear Savior and his apostles were impressed upon students. It would also be desirable if students were given concrete suggestions on how to institute pious meditations, how to know themselves better through self-examination, how to resist the lusts of the flesh, how to hold their desires in check and die unto the world, how to observe growth in goodness or where there is still lack, and how they themselves may do what they must teach others to do. Studying alone will not accomplish this.
How these exercises are to be introduced must be left to the judgment of pious and sensible professors. If I am permitted to make a suggestion, I think it would be of advantage if a godly theologian would at first take up exercises not with many students but with only those among his auditors in whom he has already observed a fervent desire to be upright Christians. With these he should undertake to treat the New Testament in such a way that attention may be given only to what is useful for their edification. This should be done in such fashion that each student may be permitted to say what he thinks about each verse and how he finds that it applies to his own and to others’ benefit. The professor, as the leader, should reinforce good observations. Such confidence and friendship should be established among the students that they not only admonish one another to put what they have heard into practice but also inquire, each for himself, where they may have failed to observe the rules of conduct and try at once to put them into practice.
In such a confidential relationship in which every matter that concerns the participants (for they must quickly learn not to make rash judgments about others or pass sentence on anyone outside the group) is examined according to the Word of God, it should soon become evident how far one has progressed and where in particular there may still be need for help. The professor would exercise no other authority over the consciences given into his care than, as one who is more experienced, to point out, on the basis of the sole authority of the Word of God, what his opinion in any given case may be; and as the students become more and more experienced the professor should be able to confer with them as colleagues. If this practice were continued for a while with fervent and earnest prayers to God, and each person were to describe the condition of his conscience to the whole group and were always to act according to its counsel, I have no doubt that within a short time a glorious advance in piety would result.