Someone asked me the other day when I was going to be done with school. Most everyone I know through my church has only ever known me when I’ve been taking seminary classes, so it’s been a question I get asked quite often. I started thinking about it and I realized I’ve already gone to seminary longer than I went to my undergrad university and I still have multiple years to go.
I’ve blogged several times about the importance and benefits of seminary, despite it being valued less and less by pastors and churches. But I believe this is because people view seminary as a place to get a degree, which was never the point of why I began to attend.
After taking some time to think through what seminary has meant to me over the past four years of my life, four distinct things came up:
- Education is about formation not memorization or knowledge gained. This is ultimately why I chose to go to seminary. It wasn’t because I wanted to fill my head with memorized Scriptures or a well composed understanding of who God was. I wanted to be formed more into His image and learning under Godly men and women seemed to be the best circumstance to do that.
- There’s no substitute for giving yourself time and space to process. One of the difficult pieces to seminary is that most students take at a least a few classes while also working part time or full time. It leaves very little time outside of class to truly invest in the work needing to be done. In order for formation to truly occur, I’ve had to be extremely intentional about giving myself time to process what I’ve been learning in class, in order for it to take root within me.
- Being connected at a local church is vital to the success of any seminary student. I’m using “success” here pretty loosely, but I know far too many friends in seminary who have loose connections and only go to church irregularly at best. They have no outlet for helping make their seminary learnings work in a practical environment. If the local church isn’t a priority in seminary, I highly doubt it will be one after either.
- The world needs more men and women who are willing to be prepared for Christian ministry through a seminary education. It’s all too common for someone to want to pursue being a pastor by becoming an intern in youth ministry, then working as a middle school pastor, and slowly working their way up the church ladder to larger roles at larger churches, making more money. These people often become great practitioners of church ministry, but have an enormous hole when it comes to solid understanding of the Bible and how it relates to us.