As a Dean of Doctoral Studies at Southeastern Seminary, I realize I’m suggesting an idea here that sometimes gets complicated to accomplish—that is, encourage people to audit a preaching course. In fact, not every seminary allows this kind of option. Nevertheless, here’s why I think every preacher ought to consider this option:
- None of us is a perfect preacher. All of us have room to grow, no matter how long we’ve been doing this work. Even a few days sitting in a classroom can teach all of us something.
- Most of us received only the basic required preaching training in our seminary work. The required courses laid a strong foundation for preaching well, but we’re usually better prepared to learn and apply after a few years in ministry.
- All of us could stand some critique. For too many of us, our seminary days were the last time somebody evaluated our preaching. I trust we’ve grown enough now that we can hear critique with more wisdom.
- New delivery options allow pastors to take classes from a distance. An online advanced preaching elective might be an option. So might a hybrid course that gives you both online and on-campus instruction. A short-term Doctor of Ministry course that requires you to be on campus for only a few days might also be a possibility.
- The classroom is almost always stronger when veteran pastors and preachers are in the room. That’s part of the reason I’m arguing that even the most educated pastor ought to get back to the classroom for a few days. Everybody benefits.
- Many of us could use some humbling. We’re better preachers when we’re humble—and the classroom has a way of taking us there. Simply being a student when we’re used to leading can be good for us.
- A few days on a seminary campus can be a welcomed break. I can tell you many stories of students whose greatest benefit of brief, short-term on-campus work was the time away from their church to get rejuvenated.
- We need to know about the newest and best resources. Even those of us who already have advanced degrees get behind in the current resources—and we miss opportunities to grow.
- You might make connections that change your life. I’ve seen classroom networking among students that has led to enduring friendships and prayer support.
- Auditing one course might lead to increased interest in earning a degree. Start somewhere. Get your feet wet in further education, and see where that step takes you.
Preachers, I encourage you to contact your nearest seminary. See what options you have to strengthen your preaching. Let me know if I can help you.
This article originally appeared here.