When the organization and structure of the church in America was altered in the early 1900s to meet modern demands, the role of the pastorate became more specialized to adapt to the burdens of the new, “efficient” structure. In 1920, Gaines Dobbins utilized the business efficiency model at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to formulate a distinct ecclesiology. Discontent with traditional methods of instruction in theological education, Dobbins sought to implement theories and methodologies from modern educationalists. He adopted a psychologized educational methodology and utilized the psychology of religion as an empirical measure of the soul, human nature, and human behavior.
Use of the social sciences seemed to grant Dobbins, as a practitioner, academic respectability within the realm of theological education. Both the professionalization that resulted from Dobbins’s efficiency standards, and a working theory of human nature derived from psychological models, were synthesized into a specialized system of pastoral care. Dobbins followed the new shape of pastoral theology in America, adopting Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) as the model for pastoral training. As a result, CPE became an integral part of the curriculum at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for over sixty years, and spread to influence many other SBC entities.