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6 Reasons Church Is Not Optional for Seminary Students

4. Body Life

Seeing my fellow believers each week reminds me of my responsibility to serve them and to be mutually accountable. Part of church participation is “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and “provoking one another to love and to good works.” The gospel needs no loners. We are part of a body. We have different gifts and functions, but severed from the body we are dead and useless. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to God’s children, but then he gives those believers to churches so that they might fill needs there.

5. Family

Married seminary students, especially men, need constantly to remember they have a responsibility to provide rich, robust fellowship and biblical training for their wives. A young pastor in training has the joy of regularly interacting with other students, with professors and even with pastors at seminary, while the wife may be working or at home with children. The church is a way to ensure that other family members are growing in the Lord and in the Word even as they forge appropriate godly relationships.

6. Opportunity

Nearly every opportunity afforded me to serve in churches can be traced back to previous service. Just as David killed a lion and a bear before he faced Goliath, I had to be trained in smaller ways before I got greater avenues of service. Had I not been faithful during seminary, and had we not plugged in and served willingly, I am convinced that my name would never have been on many future lists that presented great prospects of gospel impact.

The experience gained, the relationships forged and the doors opened to those who use their seminary years to serve in a church—even if in an unpaid position—will prove a blessing throughout the rest of life. Perhaps the greatest benefit of all, however, is that it teaches seminary students to love what Jesus loves and to live to hear Jesus say, “Well done.”  

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Dr. Hershael W. York is the Senior Pastor of the Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky and the Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. Dr. York is co-author with Bert Decker of Speaking with Bold Assurance (2001), a book that guides Christians in effective communication, and Preaching with Bold Assurance (2003), named one of Preaching magazine’s best books of 2003. Preaching Today has included him among North America’s most effective preachers. His articles have appeared in many journals and magazines, and he is a popular conference speaker in the US, Europe, and South America. He holds a B.A. in English and Classical Civilizations from the University of Kentucky, where he also earned a Master of Arts in Classical Languages. He received a Master of Divinity and also a Doctor of Philosophy in Greek and New Testament from the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee.