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).
If you read the last couple of posts, you will realize that this is a source of tension in my life. I am opinionated about it because of the journey I have been on the last 4 years. I did graduate with my Master of Divinity from Rockbridge Seminary and I am unbelievably grateful for this seminary and God’s call to their mission.
Serving in a mainline denomination and having a seminary degree from a new paradigm seminary has been very frustrating and challenging. I have come to the conclusion that I do not fit the traditional seminary mold, or even the distance learning mold of a traditional seminary. I am a case where the educational institution has no clue what to do with me. So they try to cram me into their mold. Hence, the frustration and challenge. The amazing thing is that this tension only lies with the education portion of the denomination I serve. Those serving in the local church and not connected to the institution have been unbelievably encouraging and supportive in this journey. Which tells me that there is a huge gap between the church and educational institution.
I wish I was just a little bit encouraged by the other half of this equation. In fact, the opposite has happened. It is my opinion, because I don’t fit their mold, they have taken it upon themselves to demean, degrade, discourage, and flat out offend. I wish I could write here what has been said to my face, over the phone, and in a committee about me and my education. So the frustration was piled on in my life because this crap (it was and is just that). I had to look beyond them and realize that these were indicators that I was striving to please man and not Christ. I looked at some people who had huge influence in the church to encourage me:
- John Calvin wasn’t an ordained minister
- C. H. Spurgeon didn’t go to college
- Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones had his degree from a medical school but had no formal theological education.
So, if I could change the system, I would. Here are several things that would go a long way into closing the gap between seminaries and the churches they serve:
- Every seminary student should have engage in at least a 2 year competency based residency within the local church before graduation. As a part of this residency, each student must have a ministry mentor that keeps the student on task with showing these competencies.
- If a minister already has an education and significant experience (I would say 10+ years), look hard at what The Lord has brought this person through. Maybe spend some time with them to discover what they already have learned instead of judging a book by its cover behind closed committee doors. Relationships go a long way.
- For those who are already engaged in ministry and have a seminary education, work with the local church. Not against it.
- Above all – be encouraging, don’t discourage, and accept people where they are at, accept their past.
I will add this. Any organization and institution that has people in will be messed up. I know I had to come to the point and look past the discouragement and hurt and realize that these are just people being people. God has brought them through experiences just He brought me through.
You can learn more about Rockbridge Seminary and their dream right here There is a lot more I can say about this whole area, but I will end now because there is a lot more things that I can be focused on. One thing is for sure is that The Lord has brought me through a lot and continues to show Himself faithful. I now look forward to pursuing more education from a seminary that God has lead me too. I can move forward with confidence that as I journey this path, that I am doing so pleasing Him and not man.