“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” ~Acts 17:11
In a world where everyone wants everything right away, why is it still important to take the time necessary to earn a seminary degree? Granted, all the world’s collective knowledge is available at our fingertips, should we take enough time away from distractions to avail ourselves of it. With no slight intention against the Thessalonians, are there those among us noble enough to examine the scriptures daily to be able to know what is true? Ultimately, we need to know, is seminary necessary? Should pastors go to seminary?
Dynamic public speaking skills and an ability to persuade other people to follow you appear to be all that’s needed to create a following these days. But in the world of Christianity, we’re not simply talking about earning some followers and landing on the recently trending list. So is seminary necessary?
What we are discussing is the ability to shepherd God’s people closer to the person of God. Giving people the tools needed in order to love one another and spread the Gospel of Jesus to those who haven’t heard may not always be popular. But it is what we have been commissioned to.
Is there a cost? Of course, it will take time and money, but it won’t be as much as you think. Here are four ways we are ensuring seminary is more affordable than you realize. Even aside from those efforts, James, the brother of Jesus, warned us that there was always going to be a cost to those who sought to be teachers. (James 3:1) It is not a road for the faint of heart.
Paul took time to warn Timothy that this pathway to leadership would involve sacrifice, even to one’s own peril. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul makes references to his own suffering, to the dealings with false teachers, and even to the obstinance of the very people he would be trying to pastor. The emotional cost alone would be high. But the most important things often require the greatest sacrifice to achieve.
With all of these on-the-job costs inherent in ministry, must we add the time and cost of a seminary education? Is seminary necessary? Here are three reasons why we believe seminary education is worth your investment.
Preaching the Word is different from a Ted Talk.
As stated previously, dynamic public speaking skills, along with a winning personality, can take people very far in this life. There are Ted Talk presentations that have obtained thousands of views, and for good reason. This is not to disparage the many important lessons that we can learn from one another, no less from experts in various fields. After all, there is much that can be gained by following the advice of others who have greater, or just different, experience than us.
We trust these people and their discourses gain popularity because of the trust we place in their expertise and their experience. No less should be done for those who weigh in on eternal matters. When it comes to answering the great questions of salvation and eternal life, we should desire to seek this wisdom from those who have spent more than an afternoon searching the top results in our internet browser.
Ultimately, when a pastor shares truth from the Word of God, he is not sharing his own experience, though he may add personal stories to help explain the truth. Pastors are called to reveal the truth from God’s point of view and with God’s purposes and goals in mind. Much different from a Ted Talk which seeks to change our perspective, preaching the Scriptures seeks to change our eternal destiny.
Studying the Bible is different from reading the Bible.
Did you know the number one question a pastor is likely asked throughout his entire profession is ‘What do you do all week?’ One wise pastor noted that he was accused of being invisible six days of the week and incomprehensible on the seventh. Many more wonder why we pay pastors to read the Bible all week.
There are a great many jobs that are ministries in their own right. Beyond that, all of us should seek to do our jobs as if doing them for the Lord, with an excellence that is beyond question. But if there is a job that wholly becomes about the other, for which we are truly only a vessel, the job of a pastor is that vocation.
Do pastors read the Bible all week? Of course not, but you should really desire for them to do so as much as possible, pouring over the resources provided to them that open up and properly explain the Bible’s meaning. In order to properly apply the truth of Scripture, we must truly understand what it says.
Is seminary necessary for pastors? We believe we should want our pastors to have at least as much expertise when it comes to our eternal nature as we desire the surgeon to have before he cuts us open. A seminary education provides that expertise.
Shepherding God’s people is different than drawing a crowd.
Whether it is a rock concert or a political rally, we see the ability of many to draw thousands of people together to hear what they have to say. Those can be good, even if just for an escape. But when a pastor invites people to come, the invitation is deeper, selfless, and with greater purpose.
A shepherd does not draw the sheep to himself because he desires a mass following of sheep. He does so to guide them to safety and sustenance. He understands that without his guidance, the sheep will find themselves wandering into danger. Left to their own devices, sheep will find themselves lost and helpless.
Though we as a people may disdain the comparison to such a dumb animal, the reality is that pastors are here to guide us to safety and sustenance. They do so at great sacrifice to their own desires and with immense cost to their own goals. A pastor is called by God to selflessly lead.
Is seminary necessary? When taking on the theological and administrative responsibilities for a local church, a seminary education is vitally important. Are you interested in learning more about how Grace Theological Seminary can equip you to lead God’s people in a way that is true, noble, and life-changing? Learn more about the Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies.