This is the third in a short series of posts addressing my belief that seminary is actually a pretty terrible way to equip saints for ministry in the local church. In the first post here, I said that seminary is certain not a complete waste of time and money. It simply is not the best use of time and money. In the second post here I shared some of what made seminary a generally less than ideal experience for me. In this post I wanted to share some of the positives about seminary.
I mentioned in the first post that one massive benefit of going to seminary was a class that had as a primary focus to wake us up to the reality that our own walk with Christ matters more than all the book learning we could get. It would be hard to overstate the importance of this and how useful it has been as an accountability measure for my ongoing walk with Jesus. One of the books we used in that process was Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp. I would encourage it for anyone in vocational ministry if you read it with an open mind.
A older, godly friend once told me that seminary is really about the books you read, and having finished now I would say that’s largely true. I read several books in seminary that I would not have been likely to pick up otherwise and for that I’m grateful. Here are some of the books I read due to seminary curriculum that I would highly commend to the kind of person that reads my thoughts:
- God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Andreas J. Köstenberger, David W. Jones
- Seeing with New Eyes by David Powlison
- Why I Am Not an Arminian by Michael Williams and Robert Peterson
- Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
- Master Plan for Evangelism by Robert Coleman
- Shame Interrupted by Ed Welch
- Relationships a Mess Worth Making by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp
A had a class that required me to memorize Psalm 34. Prior to that I probably never used Psalm 34 in any of my counseling. Since then I probably use it 80% of the time in some form or fashion. Dozens of people have refreshed their confidence in God the deliverer as a result of this assignment. I’d encourage you to go read this Psalm right now and imagine how potent it could be to someone who is stuck in a habitual sin, suffering from a chronic medical condition or just having serious marriage problems.
While it was not as helpful as it might have been, I have gained a few contacts through my program that have been useful to some of the pastoral work I am doing. It’s possible I’d have developed a similar network without seminary, but I doubt I’d have gotten to be personable with these particular brothers and sisters in Christ.
My program required me to have supervised counseling. While I had already done this for my certification and there wasn’t anything new, my supervisor was very helpful for me because I had pivoted off of counseling for a season and was needing to gear back up. Some of the basics he brought me back to saved those I met with during that season a lot of bad conversations and unhelpful homework assignments.