As some of you may know, I will begin attending Sioux Falls Seminary this Fall. I have received many questions and congratulations as I begin my new journey into higher education. With that being said, I also believe people have assumed certain reasons as to why I am going – some of them being true and some of them being false.
In order to articulate to you as much as to myself, let me clear up the confusion.
I’m NOT going to seminary to be a pastor.
My goal is to continue to pastor and serve God in the context of a local church but that is NOT the primary reason I am going to seminary. I do NOT believe one needs to attend seminary to pastor a church. With that being said, I DO believe pastors should be highly educated and trained for ministry. Seminary is simply one tool (and just that, a tool) to prepare men and women for ministry.
I received most of my training through The Rescue Church; learning from seasoned pastors in the context of practical ministry. This has been an excellent resource as I have pioneered and launched both an online campus and a physical campus through the training I received.
I’m NOT going to seminary to be respected.
If I were to be respected simply because I have letters after my name then I would rather not be in that person’s company. I know of pastors and leaders that have absolutely no formal education and have an impact far greater than one could imagine simply because they are passionate about Jesus (see Charles Spurgeon).
If you ever feel adequate for ministry because of your education, you are NOT ready for the pastorate.
No amount of formal or informal education will completely equip you to serve in ministry. The pastorate is purposely impossible to do in human strength so that pastors rely solely on God’s power.
Once you reach a place of drifting comfortably in ministry, you are leading the church towards stale stagnancy or worse, devastating destruction.
I AM going to Seminary to learn.
This SHOULD be a given, unfortunately it is not. I have seen many men who, having already received training through their church, arrive at seminary with an arrogant, unteachable attitude. If anything, my time in ministry has shown me how much I am LACKING, not how much I know.
One of the disadvantages of informal training is lack of different perspectives. I tend to stay within my “tribe” of Christianity rather than having conversations with those who disagree with me. I am challenged practically by informal training and challenged theologically through formal schooling.
Ultimately, I want to have my theology structured from Scripture, not pragmatics and experience.
Specifically, I am looking forward to learning and growing in the following areas:
- Church History
- Pastoral Counseling
- Greek and Hebrew
- Church Polity (Structure)
As I am challenged over the next four years, I am convinced this list will grow (which is what I am excited for!)
I AM going to Seminary to be obedient.
For many people, as I said before, seminary is simply one tool of many to prepare for ministry. For me, I believe I am disobedient to God if I do not pursue formal training and education. I have felt the Holy Spirit call me to attend seminary and He has opened the doors to make it possible.
My biggest smokescreen to skip out on seminary was the price. How the heck is a minister in a rural setting suppose to pay off graduate level debt?!
When I first visited Sioux Falls Seminary, I bluntly told the man I met with that I am not willing to go into debt for a master’s degree. He then explained to me the Kairos Project at the seminary. In a nutshell, the Kairos Project is for people who are already involved in ministry. Instead of the education being formed around classes, it is formed around mentors. One of the greatest benefits of the Kairos Project is the cost, it is only $300/month for a Master of Divinity! (This price will go up to around $600/month but I will be locked into the $300/month rate as I am one of the first students going through it.)
Unfortunately, the Kairos Project has very limited room for students. I applied for Seminary late in the Summer, far past the deadline for regular acceptance, which means I was WAY behind in applying for the Kairos Project. Somehow, by the grace of God, I got accepted into both for the Fall.
Therefore, God is not only guiding me towards seminary, he is providing for it. To not go would be disobedient to His clear calling on my life.
If you are a young man (or even an older man) please do not feel as if you must attend seminary to become a pastor. I would encourage you to speak to the elders in your local church and receive both training and direction from them. Ultimately, it is the church’s job to raise up pastors, not a seminary’s.
By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the Kairos Project, you can watch the short video below: