seminary and pastoral work

Christianity Today has a section on their website called “Seminary Grad School” and recently an article on the benefits of a seminary education in preparation for pastoral ministry was posted.

Is Seminary Education Always Necessary for Pastoral Ministry? How formal education can help build the church.

I think it provides much to ponder and ruminate upon.  It think its a beneficial discussion.

Here is an excerpt:

But again, must this exercise for the mind take place in the context of formal seminary education? Tarris D. Rosell, assistant professor of pastoral care and practice of ministry at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, observes that those who demonstrate competency in ministry first had to have received an education from somewhere. Perhaps, says Rosell, it was the proverbial “school of hard knocks.” Or maybe ministry competency emerged from on-the-job training or was the result of good mentoring or self-motivated study and reading. The salient question, according to Rosell, is not education or the lack of it, for no pastor can be effective without education. The true question is, “Does training for ministry have to be a formal seminary education?”

In response, Rosell believes it is possible for sufficient theological education to result from “ad hoc means,” that is, sources other than an accredited seminary. But, he adds, “the ‘ad hoc’ approach is problematic in that it cannot be counted on to be available in any particular case, it involves no defined community standards, and it likely involves more ‘trial and error’ learning than is necessary given the prevalence of many excellent institutional alternatives.”

To put it another way, few would deny that it is possible to acquire the theological knowledge and the required ministry skills in places other than theological seminaries. As noted, it is possible to earn a seminary degree without acquiring the knowledge and skills prerequisite to effective pastoral ministry. But without doubt, going to seminary increases one’s odds and does so incalculably.

There’s lots of good stuff to read and ponder.  🙂


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