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Are you considering going to seminary?

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  • Are you considering going to seminary?

    I would like to share some observations about going to seminary, Perhaps this just might help someone considering going to seminary to enter ministry.

    I went to two Baptist seminaries. I started at one and there was a shift from the liberal side to a more conservative side in the Southern Baptist denomination at the time I started in 1985. For one year I witnessed fighting and unkind actions in the seminary I was attending. One of my professors suggested a near by American Baptist Seminary which he felt I would do better at. I followed his advice and it was so much better. I got a M. Div. and a MA from there. I loved seminary, it was a joy, and a lot of work and very hard times.

    My wife and I felt we both needed to grow in our education together. We did not want to be unequally educated as we had seen a number of marriages where the wife was so much lower in her education and this was not what we wanted. We never were in the same class or seldom had the same teachers. This was a wonderful experience for us both and has helped us greatly over the years.

    Now here are some observations and some suggestions about seminary.

    Internet learning is ok, but you will miss so much by not attending classes. Interaction with others is very important IMO. If at all possible you should go to the seminary and the blessings of seminary life is wonderful. Interaction with people is something so important.

    Unless you and your mate are a praying couple and your relationship is close and loving, don't go until you are very close to each other and God.

    If you are actively involved in a church now and others are encouraging you to go into ministry, pray for the lord to direct you if this is His will.

    Seminary is expensive, as much as $75,000.00 for a M. Div. degree. You must have your budget in control before going and especially while going. You have to be disciplined together to stay on course. You need to be as debt free as possible to go to seminary

    Do NOT take out student loans to attend seminary! Debt limits where you can go to minister after you graduate. Many ministry opportunities pay very poorly. Student loans must be paid back, and even when you are old and ready to retire Student loans will be taken out of your Social Security. Take part time classes, work, get grants, scholarships, ask if your home church could help in some financial way while going to seminary. You must be creative with your income to complete seminary without any debt. I believe if the Lord wants you there in seminary he will provide the way for you to go. This will most likely be work, perhaps even doing a paid ministry, like pastoring a small church, or a secular job. But do not tale out loans, stay away from credit cards.

    Evaluate carefully, why you want to go to seminary. Most seminaries require psychological testing and letters from your pastor and others who give opinions about you and how you live. Seminaries do not want you to fail, and want Gods will for you too. Be prepared to be open and honest, even moreso if you are married and especially if you have children.

    You must be involved in a church while in seminary, so being a growing Christian you will want to be in a church that can support your in prayer and open their hearts for you and loved ones.

    Your walk with Christ will be tested, if you are married Satan is going to attack, distract, and be active to cause you problems. So you will learn to be strong in the Lord.

    You may find that seminary just is not for you, but God has a different direction for you. Don't see making a change as failure, God used this seminary experience as a way to redirect you into His path for you.

    Do not expect seminary to provide you a way to earn a living. Seminary gives you tools so you can minister to others. I know of one man who got his M. Div. and he is better able to minister to people in his field of finances. Many people with Seminary degrees work in all kinds of occupations. God is one who directs our path, its our choice to follow, or go our own way.

    If you are married you spouse is the second voice He uses to speak to you, the Bible is His first voice, listen carefully.


    I hope this is helpful to someone.



  • #2
    As frightening as it is for me I really wanted to attend seminary. What stopped me is the fact that I am not above reproach, having been divorced and remarried. I know some will see no wrong in that, but I cannot go against my conviction. If I attended Seminary it would only be for bettering my ability to evangelize, but I must also admit that I cannot justify the 20+ grand a year for the seminary I wish to attend when I cannot hold the office of Pastor.

    God bless,
    William
    Comment>

    • #3
      William, there are other reasons to go to seminary that being a pastor, Assistant pastor, in larger churches there are positions like Visitation pastor, and it go on. If you got divorced before you were a Christian then most would not hold that against you. If it was for immorality, or if she left you. If you know God is calling then you have to respond by asking Him to either pen the door and make it so clear you have to obey. If you do that you will know one way or the other.

      I was 37 with my bride and four children, and I had tried Biola college in Lamirada CA. twice, and two Jr. Colleges, and FAILED each time. I just could not do college. In 1983 I was working for JPL at Edwards AFB, with a good job. My wife and I both felt the Lords direction to move near Phoenix Arizona. We had lived there once before. After getting there and settling in we were directed to pray about preparing for ministry. I though maybe as a youth director or I just was not sure. I saw no way for me to even try college again. I was reluctant. I told the Lord He would have to make it so very clear to us that we would have no doubt what so ever! I went to one very well know Bible College and talked with the admissions office. They would not even allow me to apply. So I said ok Lord that ends that.

      I was in a Christian Book Store in Phoenix and I mentioned what I had experienced, and How I thought I had misunderstood what God had said. He said have you talked with Grand Canyon College? I said no but tat was just a college right? he then told me it was a Southern Baptist College and that they had a ministry, Bible, college there. So I went and talked with the admissions department.

      Now you will be as amazed at what I am going to tell you as I was back then. The admissions clerk said I just saw your mane on a paper just a while ago. I have never even heard of Grand Canyon before a few hours ago. She directed me to a different office connected with the admissions office. They too said the same thing! She said had I filled out the application? I had not. She gave me all the paper work, and said get it all filled out with the references given to those who knew me, and come back with I think it was $50. app. fee. I said I could do all the things but the app. fee as we had just moved and I had not got a job. She said don't worry we will work with you on that.

      To go back to when we had lived in Buckeye AZ before. We helped start a church there about five years before. So we had just started going there when we moved back. The pastor also thought the Lord was directing me to go into ministry.

      I am a disabled vet at the time I was 60% service connected. I had used all my VA education money so nothing was left there, I thought. But I went to the VA in Phoenix and I was told I had a possibility of 28 months extension because of my disability getting much worse. I applied and within two weeks I was approved, but for one semester at a time depending on if I passed all classes they would give me one more semester until I had used all 28 months. But the VA did not believe I could possibly do it based on my past record with college failures.

      To make a long story short I was able to complete four years of college in 28 months! After the first semester of 12 unites I took Jan terms and extra unites every semester, and double classes in the summer and I was enjoying it like nobodies business. I has a 3,49 grade point average when I got my BA in 1985. My pastor said I needed Seminary. I said I can't do it, I am not mentally sharp enough, I turned forty shortly after graduation. But God opened doors once again. And I moved my family 1,285 miles to Kansas City, MO. We went trembling in my boots.

      Let me back track and include some information you should know.While at Grand Canyon I preached any place I was asked to go, men's shelters, churches so far up in the White Mountain's it took 3 hours to get there. I went and preached taking my family most al, the time. I even went as far as Yuma, AZ, I had rattle snake meat there for a taste while eating lunch. I was witnessing God use me as I never thought possible.

      I started seminary in August 1985. In Feb. 1986 a small rural Church 65 miles away from Seminary called to be their pastor. I was ordained in April 1986. I stayed there for three years until I was just a few months away from getting my M. Div. This was not an easy life experience. There was real testing, There were financial problems Satan hit us with, We had one more baby, We literally used up three vehicles putting on about 200.000 miles while my wife and I both got our BA degrees and going to seminary at the same time.. Not once did God let us down. We never missed a meal, but it required faith and was stressful for sure.

      Now here I am at 71 and I look back at how God has blessed me way beyond my dreams. I have endured great joy, pin, difficulty, and yes Gods discipline, as well as the love he keeps showering upon me. Walking by faith is not easy, its hard. But not walking in faith is sin and there are prices to pay for not obeying and trusting the Father.

      Being a Disable Vet allowed me to take four churches that never could have had a pastor living in the field. I had a income which allowed us the basic money to provide for our family. That was a real blessing. That income came with a price, my health. I have endured great, painful suffering from the time I got out of the naval Hospital in 1998 all the way including up to today.

      We come to the Lord Jesus just as we are. If we chose to be a genuine follower that we SUBMIT, it is then he cam use us, if we want to follow Hid leading. In my case he often pulls me, carries me, and at times he has shown me I don't listen. There have been times when God and me have fought, and He has let me do things my way. I have struggled with my old sinful nature. God has been faithful to rescue me many times. I am the sheep he has had to retrieve off the cliff more than once, and he has had to brake my spiritual legs a couple of times to get hold of me.

      As I look over my life I know of not one of the people or family I grew up with that is walking with the Lord today, some have been taken out of this world. I will not denounce my LORD, even if it meant death, I am so determined to walk with and in Him.

      William I have shared this with you as I have never told all this before. I am sure other may read this. I feel directed to open my past and heart now. I do not know if it is for you or someone else reading this. But If anyone has any encouragement or the challenge to follow the Fathers direction to step out in faith that's good. The point is to allow the Lord to open the doors, and when He does walk out in faith. Do not confuse your personal desire to force a door open as His will, as this can be our own doing and when it is us attempting to prove to others God is doing it. I have seem this in other's lives. They try to get others to back their ministries for personal gain. TV preachers do this to weak Bible uneducated people. Their faith get ship wrecked, and so do the people that helped them.

      So William and others walk close to Jesus, pray and be in His word. If you are married have prayer with your wife or husband, and see what God will do.

      Justme
      Comment>

      • #4
        I think we are going to see more ministry school models take the place of formal seminaries, at least in the non-denominational and charismatic streams. I like that route because it includes a lot of practical application where you go out and do what you are learning on a regular basis.
        Comment>

        • #5
          I think not a class, but some one assigned who is a real person of prayer teaching an other how to pray. I doibt many Christians really know how to pray. Just as a example the ACTS is used by so many in teaching about prayer, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. I do not agree with that at all. If I have not confessed my sins that is the very first thing God expects me to do, RIGHT?

          So my model is CATS, Confession, Adoration. Thanksgiving, Supplication. Doesn't that seem more in line with Jesus teachings?

          What do you think, anyone?
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by William View Post
            As frightening as it is for me I really wanted to attend seminary. What stopped me is the fact that I am not above reproach, having been divorced and remarried. I know some will see no wrong in that, but I cannot go against my conviction. If I attended Seminary it would only be for bettering my ability to evangelize, but I must also admit that I cannot justify the 20+ grand a year for the seminary I wish to attend when I cannot hold the office of Pastor.

            God bless,
            William
            The church (as a whole) has done a bad job when it comes to loving people who have been divorced. this idea that someone can't be used by God after divorce is (sorry if this is offensive) ridiculous. Do we say the same thing for someone who was a drug addict? No, we celebrate that God rescued them from drugs. Do we deny a clergy status to someone who cheated on their taxes? No again. It's this attitude of "you're sin is worse than everyone else's" and it's this type of attitude that has caused many people to walk away from church. I'll get off my soap box now....
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by dcpastor View Post

              The church (as a whole) has done a bad job when it comes to loving people who have been divorced. this idea that someone can't be used by God after divorce is (sorry if this is offensive) ridiculous. Do we say the same thing for someone who was a drug addict? No, we celebrate that God rescued them from drugs. Do we deny a clergy status to someone who cheated on their taxes? No again. It's this attitude of "you're sin is worse than everyone else's" and it's this type of attitude that has caused many people to walk away from church. I'll get off my soap box now....
              I know of one pastor from a church that used your reasoning which appeals to emotionalism to keep his position in a Pentecostal church. After he was caught red handed committing adultery. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Holding the office of Pastor should be inline with the plain and clear scriptural reading of 1 Timothy 3. This particular pastor disagreed and played the sympathy card, it wasn't a matter of whether he should be excommunicated because he was repentant, but whether he should hold the officer of overseer. As an outside observer to his church, congregation, or book club, the remaining quarter that stayed behind in my opinion are more loyal to him rather than to the Word of God.

              As far as your above sinful listing, I'd say that yes, that'd disqualify a person from Pastor.

              1 Timothy 3
              3 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.



              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

              • #8
                Dc Pastor, Yes some churches are positively Un-Christ like with people who have been brokenhearted by divorce. This is especially true with the more fundamentalists churches. On the other end of the divorce issue is the liberal ones who have homosexuals for pastors. Neither end is Biblically correct

                The truth is there is no such thing a s a person who is 100% not at fault. Just being married is at least 5% at fault. But the most important issue what does God say about divorce. I think it is important to keep clearly in mind that marriage is a Covenant between the Husband and wife and God. That is a very serious promise that all three made to each other, and is not to be taken lightly in any way what so ever. God does hold us responsible, and that is something God holds us accountable for.

                Jesus said that only sexual immorality was a permissible cause for divorce. That is very limiting, and for many Christians who got divorced because of other reasons, they have a problem before God. For many Christians who knew this, they deliberately went against Gods Words. For many people they are suffering with the results of disobeying the Words of jesus.

                I have seen many people Divorce and remarry very soon after being divorced and marry someone many times worse that the partner they just abandoned. For couples with children the children will have issues for the rest of their life, that's how long the effects of divorce last on children. Staying because of the children created by a union, is a very good reason to stay together. No matter who you chose to marry you must learn to adjust and come to love.

                If a Christian woman can't live with her husband the Bible says she has the right to leave him, and to remain single. With the possibility and goal or reconciliation. All to often this time being separated is seen as a time to "date" other people and that is totally unacceptable!

                Marriage is a symbol of how God loves us, and God NEVER DIVORCES HIS CHILDREN, no matter what they have done. But what if a Christian has divorced and remarried and it was not for immorality? That must be confessed to Jesus as sin, and with the commitment that divorce is never again to happen. Divorce is very serious, and the end results of shame and deep hurt just is not worth it. No matter how long a person haS BEEN MARRIED both partners have to work to please the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes you have to give more love that the other gives, and this may last a long time, but the focus is always on obeying the Lord and keep the marriage working.

                Every marriage has problems, and the MYTH that the grass is greener with someone else is a lie. I can go on and on to show how you can save your marriage. But all too often there are such hard hearts that not even a jack hammer can break the cold hard hearts of some people.

                The church needs to be a place where those needing first aid for their marriage is there for them. But many couple will not expose their marriage for help, by the Pastor or a counselor.

                I have seen to many churches having "divorce recovery groups, but nothing for marriages in trouble. If couple would pray and have a time of reading the Bible together I doubt many would have a divorce. Even when marriages have immorality that has happened I have seen those marriages healed that are now even more better because the LORD is now working in their marriage.

                Just to add one point involvement in porn is immorality, and is considered as adultery. So with more than 70% of all christian men watching porn, Christians have a very serious spiritual and moral problem.

                Justme
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by William View Post

                  I know of one pastor from a church that used your reasoning to keep his position in a Pentecostal church. After he was caught red handed committing adultery. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Holding the office of Pastor should be inline with the plain and clear scriptural reading of 1 Timothy 3. This particular pastor disagreed and played the sympathy card, it wasn't a matter of whether he should be excommunicated because he was repentant, but whether he should hold the officer of overseer. As an outside observer to his church, congregation, or book club, the remaining quarter that stayed behind in my opinion are more loyal to him rather than to the Word of God.

                  As far as your above sinful listing, I'd say that yes, that'd disqualify a person from Pastor.

                  1 Timothy 3



                  God bless,
                  William
                  I remember several TV preachers who have been caught like this. They were off the air for a brief time, then back on like nothing ever happened. That is not what the Word teaches. he disqualified himself and should be removed.



                  justme
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Originally posted by justme View Post
                    Dc Pastor, Yes some churches are positively Un-Christ like with people who have been brokenhearted by divorce. This is especially true with the more fundamentalists churches. On the other end of the divorce issue is the liberal ones who have homosexuals for pastors. Neither end is Biblically correct

                    The truth is there is no such thing a s a person who is 100% not at fault. Just being married is at least 5% at fault. But the most important issue what does God say about divorce. I think it is important to keep clearly in mind that marriage is a Covenant between the Husband and wife and God. That is a very serious promise that all three made to each other, and is not to be taken lightly in any way what so ever. God does hold us responsible, and that is something God holds us accountable for.

                    Jesus said that only sexual immorality was a permissible cause for divorce. That is very limiting, and for many Christians who got divorced because of other reasons, they have a problem before God. For many Christians who knew this, they deliberately went against Gods Words. For many people they are suffering with the results of disobeying the Words of jesus.

                    I have seen many people Divorce and remarry very soon after being divorced and marry someone many times worse that the partner they just abandoned. For couples with children the children will have issues for the rest of their life, that's how long the effects of divorce last on children. Staying because of the children created by a union, is a very good reason to stay together. No matter who you chose to marry you must learn to adjust and come to love.

                    If a Christian woman can't live with her husband the Bible says she has the right to leave him, and to remain single. With the possibility and goal or reconciliation. All to often this time being separated is seen as a time to "date" other people and that is totally unacceptable!

                    Marriage is a symbol of how God loves us, and God NEVER DIVORCES HIS CHILDREN, no matter what they have done. But what if a Christian has divorced and remarried and it was not for immorality? That must be confessed to Jesus as sin, and with the commitment that divorce is never again to happen. Divorce is very serious, and the end results of shame and deep hurt just is not worth it. No matter how long a person haS BEEN MARRIED both partners have to work to please the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes you have to give more love that the other gives, and this may last a long time, but the focus is always on obeying the Lord and keep the marriage working.

                    Every marriage has problems, and the MYTH that the grass is greener with someone else is a lie. I can go on and on to show how you can save your marriage. But all too often there are such hard hearts that not even a jack hammer can break the cold hard hearts of some people.

                    The church needs to be a place where those needing first aid for their marriage is there for them. But many couple will not expose their marriage for help, by the Pastor or a counselor.

                    I have seen to many churches having "divorce recovery groups, but nothing for marriages in trouble. If couple would pray and have a time of reading the Bible together I doubt many would have a divorce. Even when marriages have immorality that has happened I have seen those marriages healed that are now even more better because the LORD is now working in their marriage.

                    Just to add one point involvement in porn is immorality, and is considered as adultery. So with more than 70% of all christian men watching porn, Christians have a very serious spiritual and moral problem.

                    Justme
                    G'day Justme,

                    I believe we are on the same page and I thought to share some "life experience" with you on a more personal note.

                    It took me "several" years of soul searching before I began courting. Not only did I ponder on the word of God as to whether I could marry again, but whether I could marry a divorced woman. I did not take this lightly, and I must admit that I was still convicted after I remarried and repented even then, however, my current Covenant is real. And whether it should of been made or not is an afterthought because I vowed to my beloved wife.

                    Even if I did not respect the authority that be over our state which says there is a no fault divorce, my ex left me and was married to another man in only a few months. Even if I were at peace with a separation despite the divorce decree, the defilement of the marriage bed would be enough, I'd think to qualify a clean separation or divorce in the eyes of God. Even then, I could not marry for another five years because of the conviction I received though I "burned in passion" 1 Corinthians 7:9. Same with my wife, she was divorced and lived single until her ex "betrothed" or committed adultery in the eyes of God and brought another woman into the marriage bed.

                    This is something that greatly disturbed me. Even when applying for membership in our current church this was brought in front of the Presby. They were not concerned so much as to whether I was remarried but whether I was repentant if the divorce wasn't "Christian." I did not know this at the time, but after some tears were shed and a shaken woman barely looked up from the table between us and elders, I confessed that my wife and I were repentant and studied this matter before we applied for membership. To the Presby's relief, they found us repentant, and they agreed that our current covenant is to be respected and no man should come between us.

                    This has nothing to do with being a member of a church, especially because we were repentant, but this has everything to do with whether I or anyone else that fails to meet the requirements of the office of overseer should indeed hold that office. In my firmest conviction I say NO!.

                    This doesn't mean I may not be of service to the great Commission or the Church, but it definitely disqualifies me from the office of overseer. I exhibited no ability to hold my then family together even before coming to Christ, this is something anyone in the congregation could warrant concern about. I failed as a spiritual leader and I believe I should yield to those that have in obedience followed in the word of God. Let them preach with conviction and good conscience when I myself feel convicted and hypocritical. As you stated in the example of the other man - it was my own rebellion that disqualified me. How am I going to preach the word of God in good conscience when I am convicted by the same words, and if I am not convicted is that not enough to disqualify myself from the office of overseer?

                    God bless,
                    William
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      William, brother in Christ. Being a Pastor brings so much responsibility, and for me it has been very hard for me to accept that my health and age has put me on a shelf. Its been 22 years that I last was a pastor. Often while reading the WOrd I would think how that verse or chapter would be great to preach on, I felt so bad I was not able to pastor again. There is no telling if when sunday comes If I won't have to go to the ER or be ill. I was depressed and very disappointed that I could not even do pulpit supply. I really missed being involved with the denomination activities and the like. I get upset when I hear a sermon that is done so poorly, or one just thought up as it was preached. It burns me up to see pastors that don't visit or pray with you on the phone. I hear totally wrong things being said from the pulpit by preachers that have no more than a high school education.

                      I have prayed that God would either take the desire away from me or show me a opportunity to be in ministry. I believe the Lord has not opened a door yet and I am just to grow closer to Him and be a witness to my family and those whom I have contact with.

                      I understand more clearly that what I am doing is His will right now. I am somewhat content, but at times reith growing with growing older. I have taken on doing wood working activities and special projects for Christmas and birthdays for our families.

                      If God wants either of us He knows where we are, and it is our intention to bbbe willing to serve if he needs us. I hope thia helps Brother William.


                      Justme.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        A friend of mine just recently graduated from Episcopalian seminary and is working as a chaplain at a hospital. He has some rough days, but overall finds it very satisfying and feels he is fulfilling his calling in life.
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