On seminary training

This article should make every seminarian be very careful to be sure they are on a good path to some level of self support. Consider the example of the fellow who went to Bible school, did well, then went to seminary and did well there too, then got a chance to speak and saw all that work go down the tubes…. And now he either works low level jobs or is chronically unemployed. While this may not be the case for all or most seminary grads, it happens to more that many might be willing to consider, and this is why I am not a big supporter of anyone getting a Bible college degree.

This article also does another one of two things, it either supports the reason for taking more than one preaching class in seminary if not making expository preaching the focus of the MDiv degree or…. It confronts the need to re-think the nature and purpose of church life altogether.

Either way, BIG BIG problems lie ahead for seminarians and those “called” to “the ministry,” at least, here in the US.  I don’t think it necessarily negates the need for seminaries or for theological training just that I think seminarians are going to need to put on their creative thinking caps and put their heads together about how they are going to utilize their theological training to pursue God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth.

Being out of work and out of ministry, and time talking with friends about how to move forward has given me time to think about things and has forced me to confront different issues.  One of the questions is, do I want to get back into a more traditional pastoral ministry position or is there another way, a different way that I need to think about?  Would that be a good way to go or not?

As I see it, the church in America and the way we go about doing church life in general seems to be not going in a good direction.  Right now the church at large in the US is on the decline.  People are opting out of church – and many of them are Christians.  Can you imagine that?  Christians being among the “unchurched” or “dechurched” in America?

I don’t have any answers or even any suggestions.  I just sense a bit of scrambling and a sense of hurried-ness among many in church leadership as to what to do about the decline in the American church, and that isn’t a good thing.   I guess one thing I do know is that we can’t just go on doing the same thing we’ve always done because, then we’ll just go on being frustrated by the results, which is to get what we have always got.  Keep doing what you have always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got!   Perhaps the Emergent church got a lot of hard knocks for its theology, but I think they saw the situation of a declining church and things that aren’t working anymore and were attempting to provide some solutions.  Did they fail?  I guess so.  Better to have tried and failed than to have never tried right?   Who else is trying?  What other solutions are being put forth and found to be working?  So many questions with few if any answers and lots of suggestions.

So, take this to heart and let me know what you think.


4 responses to “On seminary training

  1. Excellent article Brian. Perhaps here in lies the problem…perhaps it has been the lack of education that is the problem. All too often our Pastor’s only education has come through the correspondence training like Berean, while being better than no training at all, is certainly not as good as college and seminary. As a result, in our history (AG) not only have pastor’s been undereducated, but consequently so have our congregations. Perhaps our churches would be in better position if they were taught better? However, your premise is a good one and those entering seminary ought to be certain that they know what they are getting into. Like so many, I carry a large debt due to my seminary training, and Pastor a small church that cannot afford to pay me what my experience and training probably deserve. However, I knew what I was getting into and if I had to do it all over again would do so gladly. My seminary training was invaluable to me and I cherish the time I spent there. Blessings

  2. The AG college I go to also prepares people to enter into the workforce, trains teachers as well as preparing people for a variety of roles within church ministry. I notice within this article that it was more within a specific framework of the Episcopal church and in how there seems to be a distinct lack of teaching and linking studies to what goes on within the pews and life of the church.

    I believe that within church culture overall there is a lacking of the sense of calling and empowerment for ministry and what that means within a pastoral sense – replacing this with a sense of professional vocation and therefore there is no real sifting of students in helping them discover whether they are suited for the life of a pastor etc.

    I for one totally believe that the AG church will benefit from better education and training for its pastors…Speaking from an Australian perspective – I believe our pentecostal pastors need better education in just what pastoral care really is and that every potential pastor needs to complete a chaplaincy course before being ordained.

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