Should You Go to Seminary? Here Are the Pro’s and Con’s

Are you considering seminary?  It can be difficult to get on staff at many churches without a seminary education. But in some ways it can also be detrimental to your ministry.

Geoff Ashley, the discipleship resource pastor at the Village Church, sat down with lead pastor Matt Chandler in this video to talk about the pro’s and con’s of a seminary degree.

Ashley received a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He called his time at seminary both a blessing and a gift from the Lord and a spiritual desert.

Ashley said he benefited from a structured approach to theology.  He also appreciated a disciplined approach to studying the scriptures, “You’re forced to deal with all of the books and theological approaches.  You can’t neglect any.”

He is also thankful that he took Greek and Hebrew at DTS. While he uses Logos Bible Software available to anyone, including those who have never studied the ancient languages of the Bible, he says the language classes built a foundation that he can regularly use.

But there were also challenges not just for him but some that he would caution anyone headed for seminary to consider.  Ashley said there is a tendency in seminary to become an academic instead of remaining a faithful lover of the Lord.

Ashley had only been a Christian for one year when he went off to DTS and he said during his seminary time the Bible became a textbook, rather than the living, breathing word of God. In fact, he said it took him some time after seminary to regain his love for reading the word.

And he said there is a tendency for many, and an allure for all seminarians, to pull away from the local church during academic pursuits. He said such a decision is detrimental to your soul.

He has some suggestions to avoid those pitfalls for anyone considering seminary.

  • Don’t separate quiet time from study time.
  • Slow down.  Don’t compartmentalize your devotional life and academic life. They are the same.
  • Invest in the seminary community. Build a network of professors and classmates who you can lean on after seminary.
  • Stay connected to a local church – many are not involved at all in a church – foster a love for the local church.

Here are some other thoughts on the topic.

Scot McKnight, an author and seminary professor, lists a few additional reasons to attend seminary:

  • Gift enhancement. Seminaries will not “gift” a person, but seminaries can almost always enhance the gifts God has given to a person.
  • Biblical and theological enhancement
  • Personal enhancement
  • Dedicated time to study
  • Access to specialists
  • Fellowship with peers
  • Theological diversity
  • The New Perspective, etc. Understanding the “blazing issues” of the day.
  • Who and not just what. When you are done with seminary you will be someone else.

Meanwhile, author Stephen Newman says there are some things seminary won’t teach you including: How to worship (Newman is a worship leader). And how to help others worship. He said it took time in ministry to figure out those aspects of his vocation.  

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.