Since the seminary is an academic institution and not a church, it cannot really observe the student adequately to know if he demonstrates a true sense of calling, and most definitely does not have the right to declare him a God-called minister. That calling will be found at the intersection of desire, gifting, opportunity and the testimony of the church.
I can certainly gauge the gifting and, to a large degree, the desire of a student to fulfill a call to preach, for example, but in the three hours a week he spends with me, I will not know anything about the opportunities that he seeks or that the Lord provides for him, and still less will I have the daily opportunity to observe his steadfast perseverance, the “fire in his bones” that testifies of his calling. I cannot gauge his true effectiveness in real life situations. I do not know how he treats his wife or parents his children, or how generous he is with his resources, or whether or not he struggles with pride or lust.
Only a church can do that and only over a significant period of time.
That is why ordination, taken seriously and done rightly, should mean much more than any seminary degree.
When a church ordains a man for ministry, the members are testifying that they have observed his calling and they have found evidence of its reality. He has consistently and persistently expressed the desire to fulfill that calling and has also shown that God has provided him the basic skills to do it.
In all candor, God is not going to call someone to do something that he just can’t cut no matter how long he persists nor how hard he tries. With the calling comes an enabling, and only the church can observe him closely enough to verify that God has provided what the young minister needs to fulfill the calling he claims.
In addition, the church can provide opportunities in order to bear witness to whether or not the young minister will avail himself of and perform those with a seriousness that testifies of his calling.
I can make assignments in my class and force him to preach or to perform certain ministries because I hold the power of a grade over him. When he has done those assignments, even if he has done them well, I cannot be sure that he would take the same care and careful deliberation if he were not needing a grade. The church, on the other hand, sees the novice minister in real-life situations and can much more realistically determine his genuine level of commitment.
A seminary is an academic institution and awards an academic degree because a student completed a prescribed course of study. Though we do everything possible to make it a spiritual pursuit and to tie it to a knowledge of Christ and a commitment to the local church, an intelligent Buddhist could fake his way through and graduate from a Baptist seminary.
If a student chooses to go through the seminary and do only what is required of him academically, he may perform very well in classes and even graduate at the top of his class. Without true connection and accountability to a local body, however, that student is not qualified as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and would not be qualified to lead a church until he has been faithful in serving a church and submitting to the elders (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5). My prediction for such a student would be that he would wipe out in the real world of church life and ministry.
The success of ministry depends on the strength of calling.