Imagine that you are in the doctor’s office. The nurse calls you back, takes your blood pressure and temperature. Then she drops you off in a vacant room and informs you the doctor will check with you shortly . While you wait anxiously, you can’t help but stare at the clock and listen to the “click” of the hand as it circles around from 1 to 60. After a few minutes, the doctor comes in.
“Good morning sir,” the doctor replies. “How are you doing today?” You answer: “Not good. I have a fever, body aches, my blood pressure is high, and my neck is sore.” The doctor replies, “I have a solution. I will go to WebMD, type in your symptoms, and then hopefully make an educated guess at the root cause of your illness.”
Of course, this is absurd. You would expect the doctor to have the background and expertise to diagnose the problem with his own medical judgment before he consults an online medical reference. The same is true with a Pastor and theologian. You would expect for him to have the knowledge and years of study to show himself “approved.” This doesn’t always require seminary, of course. Anyone who studies diligently, prays, and applies what the Bible teaches to his life is thoroughly equipped to lead others to follow Christ. But it helps to have training in the same way it helps a doctor to go to medical school. Here are 5 reasons why I believe a Christian who desires full-time vocational ministry should attend seminary.
1. Dedicated Time – Let’s face it. To develop theologically as a minister, you need time to study, reflect, and meditate on God’s truth. Seminary gives you the luxury to focus more of your energy on studying, attending lectures, brainstorming ideas with other pastors, interacting with students and faculty, and spending time in the library perusing through books.
2. Biblical and Theological Enhancement – When I went to seminary, I was required to study my bible historically, grammatically, and learn the two original languages of the text: Hebrew and Greek. Can this be done in the comfort of your own home? Yes, but it is much more challenging to delve deep into the text without having a rigorous syllabus or lectures from a professor who is knowledgable in these subjects.
3. Spiritual Development – My first year I took a class called spiritual disciplines. We were required to memorize over 50 different passages of the Bible, write a journal each day about our spiritual condition, read numerous biographies from spiritual leaders of the faith, and learn how to pray through the Psalms. Shouldn’t Christians be doing this type of discipline without the aid of a seminary? Absolutely, but it’s nice to have a class to keep you motivated.
4. Think Critically – A theological education helps you process through biblical and philosophical questions that are difficult to unravel. For example, someone might pose the question,”If God is all-loving, why does he allow evil and suffering in the world?” Do you have the skills to be like the Apostle Paul and give an answer to the hope that is in you with love and humility?”
5. Build Relationships with future Ministers – It’s a blessing after seminary to hear about students you went to school with who are making an impact for God’s kingdom. We have friends who have planted a church in Boston, speak for an orphanage organization, and travel to foreign lands to be an ambassador for the gospel. It’s a joy to see them make an impact for God.