Archives For The Call

Deepen Your Ministry

Terry Delaney —  November 3, 2008

A Conversation

Recently, I was talking with a friend about ministry and seminary and how it all should come together. It seems as though anyone entering seminary has all of these grand thoughts of being used by God for such great things. For some those “grand thoughts” are just being a faithful preacher of the word at one church (big or little) for many years. For others, those thoughts are on the mission field or writing and teaching. Regardless, I do not know anyone who attends seminary without having “grand thoughts” of what God is going to do.

However, when you get to seminary, it seems that these thoughts come crashing to the ground quickly. Full time seminary is no joke as many will testify, but what about ministerial opportunities? How do you balance those, if they come (they are not promised) with your school work and your family life (if you have a family)?

A Simple Statement

My friend said something simple yet profound. He told me, “You work at deepening your ministry and let God broaden it.” At first, I did not see how that applied to my problem. After all, I was only concerned with how to strike the balance in life between seminary and everything else going on. He explained further that we must make a paradigm shift in our thinking. As believers, we should think of our lives as a ministry. Everything that is happening (family, school, church, work, etc.) should be viewed as a ministry.

I cannot say that I have really thought in those terms. Once my mind began to wrap around the concept of ministry, I began to see clearly what he meant. The only way we can ever strike that balance is to focus on the One who has providentially given us everything we have. Our main focus in life (and this is extremely hard) is to work on our relationship with Jesus Christ. In everything we do, we must be saturated with the cross of Jesus Christ.

It goes without saying; I am sure, that prayer and the reading and memorization of Scripture are the most important things we should do each and every day. What I am finding needs to be said—to myself for certain—is that if we want to see our “grand thoughts” come to fruition we must first seek to deepen our relationship with Christ.

The Most Important Aspect of Seminary

If you are in seminary and you do not have a family, then you have an extra advantage in this task. If you are in seminary and you do not have to work, then you, too, have an extra advantage. If both of these apply to you, then you probably do not have an excuse to be deepening your understanding of God.

However, if you have a family or work or even a ministry, then this becomes pretty tough. I would recommend that you fight for every opportunity to get alone with God and deepen your relationship with Him. Your family will thank you and those who you interact with daily be it a job or a ministry will notice a remarkable difference in your person. The bottom line is if God has blessed you with the opportunity to be in seminary, do not waste it. Plumb the depths of God and you will not be the same person from day to day.

May God bless you on your journey through seminary and life.

When God Lets Us Choose

Kari Patterson —  October 1, 2008

Right now Jeff and I have two possible opportunities (for a pastoral role for Jeff). One seemed like it was a no-go, then the other sprung up, then it died down and the other seemed like it was back on, a done deal. Then, no word for weeks, while the other has emerged again a bit stronger. Whenever we’ve leaned one way,something makes ustilt back to the center. At this point, we have no idea which will materialize, or even which we’d prefer.

I’m a black and white thinker. It’s natural for me to analyze situations constantly to determine what the very best situation is. I also am passionate about rejecting the sacred/secular duality, and instead embracing that God is in every details of life…the sacredness of the mundane. So even in college I remember asking God, “What way should I walk to class today? Is there a specific way you want me to go, so I’ll meet someone or is there is something you have for me?” Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times I just had to run the shortest way because I was late, tired, or sick of the rain, but I’m a pretty hard-core believer that there’s usually a “best way” to do things.

Isn’t it funny how God challenges us in the way we naturally think? I’ve had this funny feeling, this strong feeling lately that in this two-opportunity situation Jeff and I are in, that God might be asking us to choose. We’ve prayed, we’ve weighed, we’ve given both our best shot. We’ve listed pros and cons, we’ve sought counsel. You name it, we’ve done it. And granted,neither one hasbeen exactly handed to us at this point, but I still have this strange suspicion that God’s asking us to choose. And not just choose what is the good option and the bad, or even between better and best. But just to choose what we’d most desire to do.

My fingers stutter even writing those words. I am not a “best life now” kind of girl. I don’t choose things based on what I want or like (unless it’sice cream flavors); I choose based on ministry, effectiveness, efficiency, utilizing resources, sense of should, greater benefit, etc. And most of the time, I do believe those are the right things to factor in when making decisions. But could it be, could it possibly be, that there are times when God actually says, “I’ve chosen you. You’ve followed my path. Now you choose … what would you like?”

My Family Ministry professor shared a similar experience. He reached a point where he had to choose which direction to go in ministry. Everytime he prayed, he envisioned a tennis match with God. He kept hitting the ball back at God: “What do You want me to do?” And everytime, God kept hitting it back at him, saying: “What do you want to do?” At first it frustrated Him–of course God must want Him to do a certain one thing, right? But then eventually He realized that in this one situation, God was actually allowing Him to just choose what he wanted to do!

I met with my mentor professor today and without me even bringing this idea up, she said, “It sounds like God is letting you choose. Like when you hold out for Dutch (my son) an apple and a banana and say, ‘Which one do you want, Honey?’ Both are nutritious. Both are great options, both will nourish him. One is not better than the other. The end result is the same, and because you love him you’re letting him choose according to his heart’s desire, because it pleases you to let him.” So simple. I don’t expect Dutch to evaluate the fiber content of each or estimate his need for potassium or evaluate which piece of fruit costs less. He just chooses and we are both happy.

Of course I still believe that most of the time God has the “right choice” for us. But as we consider our options–which seminary to attend, where to live, which job, or smaller things like what to do on a Friday night with our families, perhaps at times our loving Father hands us two glorious options, an apple and a banana, and says, “Here precious child. Which one would delight you?” Perhaps sometimes God just lets us choose.

Called To Preach?

Terry Delaney —  July 21, 2008

If you were to ask most seminarians what their calling is, they would probably respond with something like, “I am called to preach.” For most seminarians this is true; however, I have had some recent experiences that leads me to question what it means to be “called to preach.”

I am not saying this is inherently wrong, but I have discovered (and have been found guilty myself) that because most of us are “called to preach”, we fail to see the other opportunities for ministry that come available. For example, I have been in a two month interview process with a church regarding a children’s ministry. When I was first approached about this ministry, I thought “no way! I am called to preach. I am not called to baby sit.” However, as I had more and more opportunities to preach from the pulpit for churches looking for a pastor, I have realized that God wanted me to look more closely at the children’s ministry.

Something funny began to happen the closer I looked. For the first time since my first time in the pulpit, I began to feel a little uncomfortable preaching. Next, I discovered I had a heart for the children (especially in the particular neighborhood of the church) and wanted to reach out to them and their families for the gospel. As I began to pray more for the children’s ministry, God poured such a deep love into my heart that the children’s ministry began to consume my every thought. The next thing I knew, I turned down an opportunity to preach at a churchlooking for a pastor because “God was taking me in another direction” is what I told the man on the phone.

I wish I could say that I came to this understanding of ministry and seminary life during a quiet time or time of communion with God, but that would be lying. No, it took an off-hand comment by one of my wife’s girlfriend’s as we were leaving her houseafter dropping our children off for the evening so we could interview with the church for the children’s ministry. She told me that she and her husband had been looking all over the Louisville area for a children’s ministry to no avail (I know of a couple good ones, but they have only become a major focus of the church in recent months). She said everyone tells them that “they are called to preach” and that children’s ministrywould be like taking a step backward from their goals. (OK, that one kicked me right in the gut because thatwas my initial thoughtwhen I receieved the email about the position–I hadserved as youth pastor for a couple years aboutthree years ago.) I don’t know why, but it struck a chord in me that I did not know was there to be struck. Between her house and the church (10 minutes), I was moved deeply to seek after this position with a passion that I can only explain as a gift from God.

I guess what I am trying to say is that while you are attending seminary, do not put on the blinders of being called to preach. When I was ordained, I was ordained not to the preaching ministry, but the gospel ministry. The gospel should be what drives our motives behind all we do. Sure, you will get more glory in the pulpit, a demon I am sure we will all have to fight, but do not deprive yourself from blessings because you are only “called to preach.”

So you think God wants you to go to seminary … now what?

How do you know you are meant to head to seminary? Especially when some in your life think it would be a waste of time and resources? So, just how does one proceed to investigate, select and make preparations towards seminary, especially when not many in one’s personal sphere have gone that route?

Perhaps you are like me and Christ rescued you while in college. Or perhaps you grew up in the church, trusted in Jesus at a young age, but only in the last few years began to get “serious” about knowing, loving and enjoy God. It takes a unique person to thrive in seminary. Certainly the rigorous theological training is not meant for all. Yet, if you are on this site you probably are pretty serious about seminary.

(Specifically I have in mind those who come from a church or family background where the influential people in your life do not think highly of a seminary education. My wife and I came from a very healthy and vibrant Bible-saturated church tradition, but one that views seminary as essentially a “cemetery.” Our personal experience has been the exact opposite. While we remain close with many of the leaders of that church movement, we knew that heading to seminary might have closed the door to serving there. We were and remain that convinced of God’s call for us.)

Consider all aspects

Both the good and the bad. Jesus commanded that we truly “count the cost” before following Him (Luke 14:28), and this must certainly include life-shaping decisions like heading to seminary. What are your motivations to attend seminary? What school(s) are you considering? Do you know anyone who has gone or is going there? Are they more mature, godly, worshipful, and joyful as a result? What are the theological bent of the schools you are considering? What are their positions on the exclusivity of Christ, the Gospel, biblical authority and inerrancy? As for the “bad”: What will school cost? How far is it from home? Is there a healthy church in the community? Is it too soon to go, or shall you wait another year? (If married: be sure your spouse is on the same page. Whatever you choose, as long as you are of one-mind, you will do well.) Lay everything out on the table and make an informed, honest and wise choice. And while the gravity of the decision may overwhelm you, know that God is sovereign and He delights in the deliberate thinking and humility of His children. By all means make the process towards seminary one of prayer and worship (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Consider others who have gone before

Do you know a pastor or mentor who navigated through seminary? Any men and women you hope to be like? Much of mentoring is informal, yet can become more intentional, as you ask. Paul wrote to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1); thus following in the steps of others, while being our own unique person, is part of this Christian life. Have you considered asking others to help you make this decision in community (and not on an island)?

Invest in the meantime

Not financially specifically, but relationally, in people. As Jake pointed out recently, this vital aspect of life is key while in seminary. It is also important before (and after) seminary. The academy is aimed at serving the local church, and well, if you aren’t investing in people now you likely will not later.

A few practical considerations

  • Clean your room. A wise pastor noted how his Dad reminded him about discerning God’s will of when and where to go in His will, “Johnny, be faithful in cleaning your room, and God will open the door to the room next to it.” Sound advice on excelling from the heart.
  • Take your time. There is perhaps a fine line here, as all schools have deadlines. Yet know that if God wills it for you to start in Winter or Spring instead of Fall it will be alright. Wherever you are, be all there. (In our case, we arrived on campus (at a different school than we first planned) two years after dreaming about heading to seminary.)
  • Do the necessary paperwork. Be on top of school applications and deadlines, and especially the financial aid documents with FAFSA. Relates more to organization than to be being in hurry.
  • Get out of debt; at least as much as possible.
  • Talk about it. Are there legitimate reasons why some resist you going to seminary? Specifically, are they against a certain seminary? Can you interview anyone who has “successfully” completed seminary? How about those who are students now?
  • Live with an open hand. Praying, not begging. All of life is preparation and the end goal is to know God (John 17:3), even more than fulfilling a lifelong dream.
  • Be ready. This relates to consumerism, debt and unnecessary ties to our world.
  • Love the Church. The Church is Christ’s chosen Bride, and with her He had determined to share the glorious truth of His Gospel of grace. God will not do it without the church and He purposes that you see yourself wrapped up in the story of others, broken and in need of the Gospel (me and you too!)
  • Interview others. Worth mentioning twice, especially because even a campus visit and the best publications cannot convey the value of a seminary education. (Note that any of the writers on this site are more than willing to discuss personal considerations and our own journey. Let us know how we can help – the Forum is a good place for discussions.)

Guys, now’s the time when you go, make your wife a cup of tea, take the kids outside, and let her curl up on the couch with this blog. You’ll be glad you did.

I am so thankful for the unique opportunity of simultaneously being a seminary student and a seminary wife at the same time. Occasionally this feels a bit odd. At Multnomah there is a Student Wives Fellowship, a group that meets monthly in order for wives to feel more connected to each other. I never felt like that was the place for me. I wondered, Where is the Student Husbands Fellowship? Yeah, there isn’t one. Because, let’s face it, the majority of students in seminary are males. Trends are changing, but no matter what your position is on women in ministry, women will always have the unique and treasured job of childbearing, which means we will likely be spending more time changing diapers than studying theology.

However, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be in seminary with my husband, and it’s made me aware of a few things I’d love to share with you. Whether you’re considering seminary, enrolled in your first year, or focused on the upcoming finish line, I pray this can be an encouragement to an inevitably weary soul.

Make Decisions Together

First, what I’ve discovered is that when our husbands sense God’s call to go to seminary, it is critical that we are in wholehearted agreement. If not, talk to him about it! The best piece of advice Jeff and I ever received with regards to making significant life decisions was, “Whatever you do, make sure you’re in total agreement. No matter what decision you make, if you’re both on board, you’ll make it through together.” We’ve succeeded and failed in this area. This past year we’ve been living with my parents in order to finish seminary full-time and have help with our 18-month-old son while we’re in class. Leaving our jobs, home, town, church, friends, and moving in with parents has been harder than we’d ever imagined. At times I’ve felt tempted to become bitter, murmuring to myself, “Why did I have to give up my home and my life so that Jeff could quit work to go to seminary?! I had to give up everything!” Whenever I’m tempted with these thoughts, you know what keeps me from going there?—remembering that we made this decision together. Together we decided to move, together we discerned this was God’s will, together we packed up all we owned and moved into their two guest bedrooms. I’m not a victim—we’re in this together.

So if your husband’s contemplating the call, seek God with all your heart to make sure you’re on the same page. Jeff teaches at a small Bible school in a nearby town, and sadly he recently had a student whose wife finally gave him an ultimatum—“You have to choose! It’s either me or school. You can’t have both.” That is the tragic end of a decision to pursue seminary that’s not made together.

Endure or Embrace?

Second, once we agree on the decision and take the plunge and head into this crazy world of seminary life, we choose one of two options: We endure or we embrace. To endure life as a seminary wife means we don’t complain when he stays up late to study, we don’t nag when doesn’t help give the kids their baths, we don’t whine when discretionary income is a distant memory. We bite our tongue and remind ourselves, this won’t last forever. Now that’s fine. It’s certainly better than a lot of responses. But it’s still incomplete. What I propose is that when God calls your husband to attend seminary, He calls you as well. In fact, I propose that your calling requires a steeper climb, a higher road, a costlier sacrifice. To embrace your husband’s calling to attend seminary means embracing the life that comes with that decision.

Now this will look different for every couple. I’m certainly not about to tell you how to do your marriage. Jeff and I have our ways of divvying up chores and responsibilities in a way that works for us. You have to find your own way. But embracing the call means joining him on the journey. The most difficult thing for couples in seminary is that fact that the husband is out experiencing profound spiritual truths, while the wife is often engulfed in the mundane details of work or home or kids or managing their life. So, how can we change this? Try reading a book he’s reading for class. Not enough time? Just read one chapter and discuss it with him. Read a paper he’s turning in and ask him about things that don’t make sense (or challenge him about things that aren’t well thought-through!). Visit a class once a month. Ask him to share with you some of the most impacting things he’s learning (and listen!). In short, as much as your schedule allows, experience seminary with him. Rather than seeing seminary as the enemy that prevents him from giving you the time and energy you desire, embrace it as a means of uniting with your husband in a whole new way. Join him on the journey.

And lastly, recognize that the spiritual and sensual are linked. Husbands can be tempted in good and bad ways during times of heightened spiritual experience. My pastor’s wife once told me, “My job is to seduce the pastor.” And that’s not degrading. You may write books, preach to thousands, have a successful career, raise children, empower people, but one of your jobs is to simply seduce the seminarian. Take it seriously.

That’s all for now. I’m thrilled to be included on this blog. I hope any of you wives and female students will contact me with thoughts, advice, woes, prayer requests, or questions. I’m just one girl, juggling the many hats we women are called to wear. My best to you all on the journey—it’s a sweet road ahead.

Slacker Saturday

Ryan Burns —  May 10, 2008

Talk about being a slacker… One measly post this week and it was merely a job ad. Hopefully I can get my act together this week, but I guess only time will tell if I can do that… Until then, since I was a slacker this week, I’ll try to make up for it in one post.

Two Cent Tuesday – Saturday Edition

Saturday is always strange for me because I never know what to expect. On any given Saturday I am as likely to have a project for work, as I am to have school work to do, as I am to have a list of honey-do’s around the house. While I always have something on my plate, I do typically try to spend at least half the day with my wife and kids. I also attempt to get a 30 minute nap in there somewhere. In the end, Saturday is like a half day off for me. Mix that with, typically, a whole day off on Sunday and I am usually ready to go come Monday. So, what’s your Saturday like?

{democracy:16}

Thrifty Thursday – Saturday Savings

Well, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and my mom happens to be in town tonight. So, in true best-mom-in-the-world fashion, she has offered to watch the kids and give Just a Gal and I a date night. As I was looking online to decide where we should go for dinner, I was reminded of a really great date resource: Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com is a great site that offers you some instant savings on dinner. The gist of the site is that you can buy a gift certificate to a restaurant at a very discounted price. Typically you can get a $10 gift certificate for $3 or a $25 gift certificate for $10. Now, you can only use one per visit, but that is a pretty nice little savings on dinner. Also, if you sign up for an account, they typically send out discount codes towards the end of the month and you can get an even greater discount. Major score on those nights.

One final note… when you buy your gift certifiate and print it out, don’t forget to take it with you! Sad to say I’ve done that more than one! Sheesh.

A link for all you would-be-Ph.D’s

Here is a great post by Sean Michale Lucas on Ministrial Students, Calling, and PhD Studies. It is incredibly insightful and is worth reading for all seminarians. Along with the original post, there is a LENGTHY comment section that I suspect will only get longer once you visit the post. Enjoy.

I realized that it has been a while since I’ve written a post for all you out there who are considering seminary. Since the summer is approaching and there are a number of you applying and making final decisions about the fall, I thought I’d throw out an idea I was thinking about the other day… namely, interviewing current students.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it is actually quite easy to hunt down seminary students online (hmmm…. that sounded shadier than I intended). Anyway, my point is that if you are considering a seminary, it is highly likely that you can find a student (or students) who attend the seminary and have a blog. Simply google: “I attend Seminary Name” or Seminary name blog student and see what you get. Odds are, the search will get you on the right path.

Once you’ve found a seminary blogger, find their contact info and shoot them an email. Explain that you are considering attending their seminary and wanted a students insight. Most bloggers are are MORE than happy to give you their opinion. It is kind of the whole concept behind blogging…

Now, in giving this idea I feel it is also important to also say that you should take any replies you get with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, you don’t really know the person you contacted… they could have just bombed a test and, at that moment, have very unhappy thoughts about their seminary. So, keep that in mind. But, none the less, this is another way for you to navigate the tricky and sometimes overwhelming waters of selecting a seminary.

(If you give this a try, report back to us and let us know if it was helpful!)

Seminary Comparison Matrix

Ryan Burns —  April 3, 2008

I got an message via the contact form this morning that is certainly worth sharing. A web developer, John, from Dallas Theological Seminary sent me a link to a cool little program they wrote that will compare a number of seminaries across various criteria. While it doesn’t have every seminary or every category of information you might want, it is a really cool tool for those in the process of trying to select a seminary.

Also, I really appreciated that John said,

Of course, one can never choose a seminary based on these factors alone, but we thought it would helpfully summarize a lot of data that future seminarians are trying to wade through.

Remember, choosing a seminary isn’t as simple as clicking some checkboxes and waiting for a computer to tell you where to go to school. However, a tool like this can certainly help provide some good information, and better yet, let you see that information compared to other schools.

Paul's Going to Seminary

Paul Burkhart —  March 23, 2008

Going To Seminary

This post was written by Paul of The Long Way Home and Reform & Revive. Paul recently got accepted to Westminster Theological Seminary and is currently in his last semester at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Hello world, my name is Paul. Just A Guy asked me to help out while he was gone on vacation. Why me? Well, I represent a potentially significant portion of the visitors to the site that may seem underrepresented – the unmarried undergrad about to go into seminary. Just a couple of weeks ago I received my acceptance e-mail, phone text message, and letter from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I am hoping to earn my Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling there and then return to Richmond, Virginia (my current home) and help with counseling services in my church.

I only have three points in this post (I’m already getting my preaching experience in, huh?): an introduction, a story, and an exhortation. Seeing as the introduction has already occurred, a story is now due. I grew up being the guy who had such a passion and zeal for God it annoyed others, but nevertheless knew he was not called to be a pastor or hold any real office in a church. God made it very clear my entire life that He had not called me to that, while everyone else around me said otherwise. Then it happened. I don’t know when, exactly; I don’t know why. All I know is that about a year ago, God slowly started stirring something in me he hadn’t before. Nothing external in my life changed, He just started moving and changing me.

I see now God works in this way, and I’m okay with that. He never lied to me or deceived me, He simply had not called me yet. He allowed, ordained, and desired for me to develop under this assumption, because it caused me to hone skills, knowledge, and abilities to engage an unredeemed culture that I otherwise may not have. I realize now that God’s will is first and foremost what He works in and out of us, not where we go to school. We often see what He works in us as means to effect the environment around us. I see now quite the opposite is often true. The externals are the means to accomplish God’s primary goal, which is your sanctification. To work in You something that otherwise would be lacking, eternally preventing you from enjoying God in all His fullness and splendor. He is committed to not letting this happen, thus He will do all it takes to work those things in and out of you.

So now the exhortation. I’m moving north in a few short months. I have no place to live, no money for a place to live, no friends, no church, no support, no nothing in Philadelphia. Not only that, I’m terrified about the effect seminary will have on my spiritual life. I’m already “intellectual” and “theological” enough to easily make those things idols. I’m terrified. I’m scared. Add to that the reality of God’s preparation for all of this including a purging of my soul in such a way I’m seeing parts of myself I never knew were there. Parts so dark and depraved I wouldn’t be able to live apart form the grace of God that accompanies these “insights.” But you know what? For one reason or another it’s okay. Not because everything is going to work out with a nice ribbon on top. It may, or it may not. It’s okay because of who He is, and because I know that if this whole thing weren’t so difficult, I wouldn’t need Him, and it’s in my need I have Him most.

That’s the strange mystery of this whole Christianity thing: in the end, the goal is not anything that happens to you. The goal is a man, Jesus Christ, and so it is to that end that He works in and through and for and in spite of us daily, that we might look a little more like Him at the end. That is why, brothers, this whole ministry thing can not and should not be simple or easy. It should ruin us, crush us, drive us to our knees to taste the dirt falling from the sandal of our Master. Praise God there’s regeneration, that changes us so even dirt falling from Him taste sweeter than the finest pleasures and satisfactions this world has to offer. So be diligent, persevere, repent always, and know that you are more sinful than you could ever dare imagined, but more loved and accepted than you ever dared dream. To God alone be the glory. Thank you for you time in reading this.

Lord, let humility reign, truth remain, and set our affections upon You. Amen.

I don’t know what the deal is, but I’ve been reading a lot of research about seminary lately. This latest reading was a dissertation by Charles R. DeGroat who teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). The work (made available here) looks into expectation versus reality among male graduates of seminary who entered the ministry.

In the work, DeGroat focuses on 7 graduates of RTS who, after graduation, went into parish ministry. The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between expectations formed in seminary and the relationship to the reality experienced within the pastorate. For those of us who are M.Div students or those consider the pastorate after seminary, I would HIGHLY recommend reading the dissertation. Specifically, since I know you’re busy and probably aren’t looking to add another 156 pages to your reading list, I would recommend that you focus on the meaning units expressed by the 7 participants and DeGroat’s textural and structural descriptions (p.40-123).

In this section you can hear the thoughts of men (read the limitations section for why the study only included men) who have been in our shoes (as seminarians) and have since gone on to experience the reality of what we seek (the pastorate… and yes, I know that we’re not all going into the pastorate, I’m just talking to those who are.). In studying what these men share I believe that we have the opportunity to see the weaknesses in our seminary experience and, on our own initiative, take steps necessary to ensure that we will be better prepared to serve those to whom God will call us.

As a word of warning, don’t discount the study by saying, “oh, well my seminary is not like that one.” The reality is that no seminary truly provides a holistic preparation for ministry. Hearing the experience of these pastors will help you to see where their seminary failed to prepare them and will allow you to examine your experience more critically… hopefully resulting in a more successful seminary experience for you.

For those too lazy to download and read for your self (shame on you) here are just a FEW quotes from these pastors that I found enlightening as a seminarian and future pastor:

  • I had to do a funeral three weeks into my first gig in ministry and I didn’t have freaking clue what to do.
  • I wish I learned more about a number of practical ministry things – Weddings. Pastoral counseling. A dude’s kid was molested at one point, and I thought “some good my class notes are for this.” I mean, are you getting the disconnect?
  • I expected that I’d grow spiritually in seminary. I didn’t. And then, I expected that I’d grow spiritually after seminary. And that happened a little. But it mostly didn’t happen. Because the busyness just doesn’t stop. You move from the busyness of papers and essays and exams to the busyness of getting a job to the busyness of preparing for ordination to the busyness of phone calls and hospital visits and teachings and kids being born and interviews with guys like you.
  • If I could say one thing to the seminary, I’d say it’s no use graduating pastors who know how to pass an exam but are spiritually dead.
  • And now I’m realizing that, as I reflect on my seminary experience, is that it was just too much information to absorb and process. So, you scramble to perform to pass tests, and to get credentialed, and to become a preacher. My seminary experience became a means to an end.
  • Nothing in seminary helped with the relational difficulties I’d experience in ministry. The bulk of it I gained in my first ministry position. I saw the level of pain, level of fragmentation, level of brokenness in people’s lives.
  • I didn’t realize how much emotionally energy this (ministry) would require. It’s gigantic.
  • Seminary provided important information for theological and ecclesiastical exams, but not for ministering to broken people.
  • I spend far more time, for good or bad, worrying over how to deal with conflict, or help marriages on the brink of disaster or the best way to accommodate more people, or how to get a group of men who are all older than I, and whom I fear a bit, to get on the same page about something, all relational sorts of things than I do about the exegesis of particular passages of scripture.
  • It is awfully tempting to give one’s time and energy to the things that make it look like you are on the job. I don’t believe I had a good sense of just how much this would be a temptation.