One thing seminary can’t teach you

pupit w bibleRecently, I’ve been a bit unsettled over some observations. I’ve heard a few different stories, all revolving around seminary graduates. There were the stories of newly installed pastors, who after going through a rigorous “calling” process involving strenuous scrutiny, presented themselves and their beliefs as something different than in that process. Then there’s the pastor who proclaimed heresy in front of the congregation despite earning top grades in seminary on that same topic. And I see with an uncomfortable frequency, espousal of ideas that veer towards syncretism of Christianity and some contradictory worldview (like new age ideas) or endorsement of teachers who do the same.

But it also reminded me of some of my experiences during the six years I spent in a conservative evangelical seminary – conversations I overheard and took part in, observations of students, and even grads, endorsing teachers with questionable theology and in some cases, flat out false, other-gospeling teaching. I’ve also encountered inability to articulate core doctrine of the Christian faith or discern when something is just flat out wrong despite it’s attractive flavor. No, not everyone. Of course not. But enough to be concerned about the attention that was being given to how Christian belief is being articulated and lived.

Seminary is a tricky animal for it can create a false sense of accomplishment and arrival. While there are varying motivations and life experiences that lead people to seminary, at the core is to, in some capacity or the other, serve as a minister to the gospel. And seminary does provide very useful tools and education for serving in a ministerial capacity bolstered by wonderful, pastoral oriented professors and building strong relationships. So please don’t misread what I’m communicating or think I’m down on seminary. I am not and am grateful for my experience. Continue reading

When You’re Graduating from Seminary…and have no idea what’s next

Graduated_next pathIn just a few short weeks I’ll be donning the graduation regalia and walking across the stage. My diploma will come later in the summer since I needed an extension on my thesis. But the thought of having all my classes done is a refreshing one indeed.

A common question that gets asked of me, as I’m sure it does other seminary students and near graduates, is ‘what’s next’? I wrote about this a couple of years ago, in What’s After Seminary? Not a Job but an Adventure. What the question really refers to is what fantastic ministry will you NOW be a part of, where you will be on staff and serving God’s people? I mean after all, why ELSE would you have gone to seminary if you aren’t doing that? In fact, there’s such a strong emphasis on church ministry that not obtaining that can make a seminary grad feel like they failed or wasted their time.

Despite my insistence in my article from 2 years ago that its all about the ministry adventure and not the actual position, I still find myself quite unsettled and a bit anxious these days. I was fortunate enough to land a good part-time position in the field that I had been working for many years and the job was secured even before moving to Dallas. Unfortunately, that position was eliminated and I took another position that didn’t work out. For the past few months, I have been engaged in an intensive job search and recognizing that I may have to continue what I was doing prior to seminary or at least leveraging that experience. In fact, during the drafting of this post I did indeed accept a position and it’s not in a church. Continue reading