Isn’t it just a bunch of old buildings and stale pages filled with jargon? Suits droning on and on – detached from the “real world.” Why would anybody in their right mind want to go to seminary?
The stereotypes are sterile…and rampant.
My first visit to Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky wasn’t anything like that. Every corridor was alive. After a couple days on campus, I realized that the Godly scholars walking them were not only brilliant, but many were more connected to culture than I was.
Six months later, there was a “For Sale” sign in our front yard and my eyes were set on the Bluegrass State. I couldn’t wait to learn as much as possible.
“They don’t teach you that in seminary,” has become a popular saying in ministry circles. Sure, it’s partly true. Most theological degrees take 3-4 years to complete. You’re not going to learn everything about the Eternal God and how to navigate the choppy waters of ministry in that amount of time.
Theological education, however, equipped me far beyond expectations (which were high). Here’s why I wouldn’t trade my time at seminary for anything:
- It matured me as a father and husband. Being away from my home church, family, and friends stretched me. There was no definite plan after seminary. Sure, we had ideas…but church planting in central Arkansas wasn’t one of them. Packing our family and moving to another state was a leap that grew us.
- It connected me with scholars, pastors and theologians who sharpened me spiritually. I’ve heard Southern’s President, Albert Mohler, say many times, “If learning theology doesn’t stir in your heart a love for Christ, you’re doing it wrong.”
- It forced me to wrestle through ethics, history, and Biblical scrutiny for the first time. Did I figure out my stance on every sticky moral situation? Of course not. But I learned how to go about studying for the answers, and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have taken the time to do so otherwise.
Seminary is less like a comprehensive training program and more like peddling through an art museum on a bicycle. You may not have time to stop at each portrait and study the brush strokes, but you get the gist. You can see the layout of the whole museum. The most helpful thing is finding your bearings so you know where to go back for further study.
My experience deepened a love for the Artist who filled those galleries. It set me up for decades of future ministry.