Continuing a short series in response to an article written by the seminary I earned my Master of Divinity through. You can read the article here (It is a really good read).
This article talked about how seminaries are just using the old school curriculum and overlaying this in a distant format. I can tell you (from experience) this totally does not work. What it does reveal is a growing distance between seminaries and the churches they are suppose to serve. The reality is that seminaries can graduate complete Psychopaths who have all the right answers and the right GPA, but then cannot serve the church or are ill-equipped to serve the church. This is the very reason why a lot of denominations are suffering from a pastoral shortage. I totally believe in denominations because there is great partnership for Kingdom advancement. But when there is a continued growing gap between seminaries and churches, you see the rise of non-denominational churches. It is my opinion – this is a huge contributor to the rise of the North American non-denominational church.
My experience with Rockbridge is completely opposite. In order to graduate, you had to show how theology meets ministry. It is all about showing ministry competence not theological knowledge. Rockbridge is a seminary so you do learn theology. They just take it a step further and challenge you to apply it, thus closing the gap between educational institution and the mission of the church.
The challenge in the future is for the seminaries to close the gap between them and the church. I see this burden to be on the seminaries because they were the ones that widened this gap it in the first place. It is a very sticky situation because a lot seminaries are more concerned about their accreditation status than they are about serving the local church. Thus, the gap widens even more. I will add, that not all seminaries are like this. There are those who serve the church very well and are trying new things in order release competent men and woman into the mission of the local church.