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Seminary: Relevant or Relic for Pastoral Preparation?

Here are a couple of other questions I’ve had:

  • Does our seminary education process effectively equip ministers? If not, what can we do to improve it? I think it could benefit more from an uptick in focus on ministerial practice and spiritual preparation–while maintaining scholarly rigor.
  • I also wonder if a focus on education reduces our belief in God’s role in the preparation and empowerment of the minister. I don’t think it has to, but I’ve witnessed the criticism some academic elites aim at highly capable ministers simply because they don’t have M.Div. or higher degrees. It’s absurd to me, though I certainly value education.
  • It seems to me we view someone as “qualified” based mostly on education and experience rather than calling or effectiveness. I wonder if we couldn’t view qualification more holistically.

We all have finite lifespans. It seems then there are wiser things to do that spend it preparing for what we feel called to do without actually doing what we feel called to do. Continuing to learn and grow while in ministry is vital and is not at all what I’m questioning here. I’m addressing the belief that unless one goes to college for 7-10 years, they cannot be an effective minister of the Gospel–and the assumption that those 7-10 years actually prepare them well for ministry.

Does preparation for ministry matter? Yes. As much as we’ve always assumed? I’m not sure on that one.

What do you think? How important is educational preparation for ministry? When is a person properly equipped to enter ministry?