Why I may not go to seminary

I have been wrestling with this question forever!

I had a wonderful experience working towards my undergraduate degree at Canadian Mennonite University.  I met a wonderful network of people who I still depend on today.  Through a few select classes it helped create a skill set that has significantly shaped me as a ministering person.  Yet upon graduation the question kept coming at me, “are you going to seminary?” to which my response was always, “I want to get some ministry experience before I do.”  So, I’ve been a full-time pastor for the past 5 years and I still find myself hesitant to go to seminary.  Here are a few reasons why:

Debt – I racked up so much student debt merely getting my undergraduate degree.  I cringe at the thought of more debt.  I have a wife and a son whom depend on me to put a roof over their head, and food on the table.  Sure, there are options for assistance most of which make me exhausted just thinking of all that I will need to juggle just to make it happen.  Certainly in a post-Christendom (post Christian) world, where institutional church budgets shrink, full-time pastor jobs gradually becoming fewer and fewer I wonder if the debt load is becoming too much for many folks.  It certainly could be that for us.

‘Higher’ Education – Does a seminary degree perpetuate an institutional ‘higher than’ authority that the believers church seemingly stands against?  This is a new’ish’ thing for me.  This is merely something I worry about.  Thoughts?

Place & Courses : The Disconnect – There is a big difference between the street and the classroom.  As I reflect on my years as a pastor a lot of my learning has been within my context ‘on the job.’  In my opinion, if seminaries were serious about creating ministering people, they would be requiring their students to be saturated within their contexts.  This would mean not creating people to be pastors or missionaries as if they can be unwrapped ‘out of the box’ pastors and placed anywhere.  I long for seminaries to create a structured learning experience that facilitates full on the job learning.  As this would happen, I have a suspicion that the ‘classes’ offered would look significantly different.

What do you think?  Is seminary education important?  Do we need to re-think what our ‘seminaries’ look like?


  1. david cl driedger · May 3, 2012

    In my mind a good education is always good. But the key word of course is ‘good’. What are your potential options? Conrad Grebel has all tuition covered for full-time students. It is a MTS and not MDiv.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      I’ve always been looking trying to convince myself that I can find a seminary that addresses some of this stuff. Conrad Grebel sounds great, but it’s so far away, and would mean uprooting again and disconnecting me from my work here. I completely agree, good education is extremely important. But where?

      • david cl driedger · May 3, 2012

        Do a part-time MA in religion at a university and take it as an opportunity to do difficult theoretical work that can help you best understand the current implications of your theology and develop tools to build a theology that has integrity with your beliefs. As I said my main beef with seminary is simply that tends to be ‘soft’ education trying to please everyone. I guess it pleases some people but I certainly was not one of them. Or work towards a degree in clinical psychology with a focus that relates to what you are interested in.
        By and large I just think universities do education better (for my sensibilities). So you already have a church community in which to process those things.
        I fully admit that I tend towards one end of the spectrum on this thing. Bottom line though if you are going to spend the money and take the time I hope it would be damn challenging and formative.
        Just rambling at this point.

      • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

        Ya. I hear you. Soft education that does not challenge is not helpful. The best classes I took I also dreaded cause they were so frickin’ hard, educationally and spiritually!

  2. Jamie Arpin-Ricci · May 3, 2012

    Debt is a HUGE reason not to do it. Even if you CAN get a job, it will have to be one in which the pay grade allows you to pay it off. So if you want to work in a small, inner city church with no money- a place that needs good leaders- you will have far less freedom to do so.

    The higher education challenge is real, but not insurmountable. There is a place for the academic, etc. But the challenge is real & needs to be acknowledged.

    The proximity question is the big one. Ched Myers said:

    “The worlds of the seminary, the sanctuary and the streets generally spin in very different orbits, with little engaged conversation between them—much less mutual accountability.”

    We need to see these three- sanctuary, seminary & streets- come together.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      That quote is very helpful. What would a collision between all three orbits look like as far as an educational expereince is conserned?

  3. pomorev · May 3, 2012

    Hey Chris. I think a lot about the disconnect aspect. I pastored for many years before heading to university specifically for theological education. I worked bi-vocationally in IT as I worked in assistant leadership roles (as well as a bout of church planting). Over the last 12+ years I’ve studied and pastored/planted a church. While that made things a bit overwhelming at times – especially when I did a one year masters – what it forced me to do is always work out in practice what I was learning. I wish I was bright enough to have thought of doing this deliberately – this was a move of necessity for me – but now that I’ve been doing that for a while I have been actually recommending this to other ministers and friends. Even if it is just to be involved in some sort of ministry outlet while studying. None of my degrees are practical degrees (Theology not Divinity) – my intention is to be bi-vocational, teaching and pastoring.

    It think it is a good idea you had about spending time in ministry first. As someone who ministered for years with little formal theological education I know that there is something about the practicality of ministry that provides an excellent education. In my case, and I hope in the case of others, there comes a time when the questions are too big for experiential exploration. That is where seminary/graduate university can really serve the minister and ultimately the Church.

    I wonder if we have lost sight of what higher education is for – is it about having a higher pay scale or is it about further equipping the saints for their work with God? I think about the worst thing you can do is undertake a graduate degree without a real clear sense of direction – least of all for a strong question that can be sustained as an area of study.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      I ressonate a lot with what you write. I do think that potentially we have lost sight of what higher education is for within a church ministry/pastor/missional context. If we are to build relationship iwth our neighbours as a means of love, I find it hard to move away to study, and come back a better minister… Working alongside learning is an important direction to take in a study context. it is no surprise that for me, the prof’s that I valued the most had a deep earthed experience in multiple ministry contexts.

  4. Mike Lillie · May 3, 2012

    This is a tough decision especially these days. As one who just spent three years in seminary I can understand where you are coming from. Obviously this is a case-by-case decision. I was fortunate enough to go full time and almost all of my expenses were paid for. This is rare for most folks. I will say that is was the best experience of my life and I not only grew academically but spiritually. I worked part time as a pastor, and can honestly say that having a foot in the academic, and a foot in a very poor inner city congregation stretched me almost to the breaking point…and that was the best gift I could ever have received.

    Many folks these days who are already working in ministry seem to go for the ten year plan. They do one class at a time. I think this is an excellent option that can allow one to pay off much of the debt as you go?

    Also, it depends where you go to seminary as to the kind of education yo will receive? Some seminaries are denominational/doctrinal think tanks, while others do a great job of teaching you how to think, not what to think. I look at it this way, not that it is an option…but my seminary education cost me about as much as a new Chevy SUburban. In ten years the suburban will be ready for the scrap heap…my education will last as long as I walk this earth. So…I’ll just be more educated and ride a bicycle…

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      LOL! Nice. As I write this I am planning to put slicks on my hardtail mtb to start community 10k to work. Education does last forever. I appreciate that comment. The question, which you poke at a bit, is what does that education look like. Being empowered by your community is a wonderful way to start asking the question!

      • Mike Lillie · May 4, 2012

        Although it was an evangelical seminary we were exposed to a plethora of theological positions opposed to just reading like Calvin, Edwards, Luther…and that’s it. I feel I was given an environment to work out the deep questions about what it means to do theology, and what it means to minister to and care for others.Although anyone could read all this stuff being able to be with scholars, peers, and pastoring to folks on the margins helped me to seriously mature on a personal and spiritual level that I personally might not have without seminary? However, I don’t think everyone should go to seminary, but if one is called I think it can be an amazing experience. To conclude, what I think we need is for more folks who have gone to seminary to be intentional about training up good leaders who might not have such an opportunity.

      • chris lenshyn · May 5, 2012

        Thanks for identifying an important thing for church leaders everywhere. Leadership development.

        Seminary is not for everyone. It equips people in many skills like critical thinking etc… but often the translation to praxis is a strange one.

        Imagine a seminary that took seriously the idea of their seminarians developing leaders… I wonder what that would look like. Not convinced that could happen in a traditional classroom setting.


  5. carbuncle · May 3, 2012

    I’ve been to seminary. I think that it was critical in my own preparation for ministry for two reasons: 1 – I was not being challenged to find a calling, discipled towards a calling or anything else by the local churches I attended (which I consider a massive failure of the local church to fulfill Matthew 28), and 2 – I did not go to Bible College prior to. Had I already been fully grounded in my faith theologically by either the church or a Bible College I would never have wasted time and money on Seminary.

    Everything that I have heard indicates that while churches are withering, there are nowhere near enough pastors being trained to replace retiring ministers. Additionally, there is a desperate need for church planters in every context, and those people need to be prepared. I believe that denominations that have schools need to get much more proactive about identifying the called and enabling them to enjoy seminary if they do not have the ability in the local church to prepare them for ministry locally. That means offering full rides for people who demonstrate the call to ministry. Ministry callings should not leave families indebted and isolated. It should be done locally if possible – if not, then for free.

    I was just talking to a mother of 3 the other day, raised in the church, who couldn’t even explain how the word “Jew” was connected Judaism, the Kingdom of Judah, or Judah the son of Jacob. She encouraged me to teach a class on Genesis so she could come with her daughter to it – and she goes to the largest church in my city (1000+)! There is a massive failure to disciple people in the church today, not just for leadership, but at all.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      Yes! Good education empowers the future leaders of our church. I think the question being asked by a few is, is our education in our seminaries empowering us in the best ways possible?

      i think you address a very important issue with churches calling and equipping! I think if churches start to do that seriously our education will take seriously that process.


  6. Kyle · May 3, 2012

    You forgot to mention the inverse correlation between the education level of the pastor and the overall health of the congregation. I’m not sure of the causation, but across the board the more Masters and Doctorates the minister has, the less healthy the church is (obviously there are exceptions to this, just like the smokers who don’t die of lung cancer, but most of us still pay attention to lung cancer rates in smokers).

    • david cl driedger · May 3, 2012

      What on earth are you talking about Kyle.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      I too would appreciate some clarity!

      • Kyle · May 3, 2012

        Natural Church Development did surveys of churches around the world across denominations. They have found a bunch of fascinating facts, such as the more laughter there is in a church the higher the overall health. One of those stats is that the most education the pastor(s) has, the lower the overall health.
        I can’t find a link right now, nor do I care to spend more then 2 minutes looking one, but if you take out this book: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/resourcecentre/ResourceView/2/3323 it’s a little sidebar graph somewhere in the first half of the book.
        I think the idea behind it is that we assume that more education makes us better pastors, but it takes an intentional pastor to bridge the intellectual bridge of making atonement theories relevant to a congregation.
        Maybe another avenue: Just because you have your phd in education, it doesn’t make you a good teacher. Ask any teacher who has went through the faculty of education.
        I know saying this to a bunch of pastors with the Masters will get quite the feedback. But it is one reason why I am in no rush to get my Masters.

      • chris lenshyn · May 4, 2012

        Ah yes. Thanks Kyle. I think I will be digging around for this article you speak of…

        Thanks again!!

  7. William Loewen · May 3, 2012

    For all these reasons and more, I agree with you.

    While I would almost certainly enjoy the experience and it would push me to greater academic achievement, but I am not convinced it would make me a better pastor (there is certainly room for improvement, but I have seen enough counter-evidence). Also, I have a BA in Religious Studies, so a lot of it would be repetitive.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      Most definately. I desperately need to improve as a pastor. The point is I’m not completely sold that seminary and the way it is will move me in that direction…

  8. Karl Langelotz · May 3, 2012

    My 2 cents – even though I wasn’t the one studying (stay at home dad), the year our family spent at AMBS in Elkhart was one of the best experiences of my life. The community, the support, the intellectual challenges continue to help me in my job as a teacher. If you can do most of your studying via distance ed (or via a local seminary) and still work part-time, the debt issue may not be as huge. If you “Keep up the good work”, you may get some financial support from your church or interested individuals in your community. I hear there’s some cash around Abbotsford for that kind of thing 🙂 Keep praying and talking aobut this with others,

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012


      What up?! I can say without a doubt that the very best thing that came out of my time at university was the community and network of people. Part of that is studying together. That is extremely important and a major plus. I just wonder if we should re-imagine what that study looks like.

  9. Chad Doell · May 3, 2012

    Hey Chris,

    You don’t know me, but my name is Chad and I recently graduated from CMU in their MA in Christian Ministry (think MDiv lite, I guess). I appreciate your questions fully, to say the least.

    I have spent most of the past two and a half years wondering why I was in the program. It is not because my learning wasn’t valuable or that I didn’t build important relationships, but when I started CMU I had just ended a summer as an intern with a prison ministry group. The disconnect between theology and real life bit hard and I was quite furious for a while.

    I read, wrote my papers, and was successful, and have come out of the wash a staunch negative theologian. I am completely exhausted with trying to apprehend God intellectually. I am disillusioned by attempts to extract principles from the Gospels in order to create a new law. I hunger for a church of God nurtured faith where our elders teach us how the Gospel looks in life and how to treat one another with grace–not source criticism and other faith destroying mechanisms.

    It was very easy for me to be quickly disillusioned. I’m from rural Saskatchewan which has a legacy of producing some of the strongest leaders in the Mennonite church. By and large, these leaders were ‘uneducated,’ loving old farmers who knew their people and loved to read scripture. It was a good formula.

    I’m sharing this knowing many people love seminary. But, if you’re hesitant to begin with, I have little doubt you’ll end up in a similar spot I have. Phrased another way, when you’re in love with Christ, Humanism is exhausting–but in academic culture, it’s also relentless. If there’s a better way, I think of those old pastors I mentioned, and love that they grew up in a place with a people and served them. What a beautiful thing–

    it’s the Spirit that equips and provides, not our credentials.

    Chad Doell

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      If theology is ‘faith seeking understanding’ then we need study and work at what that looks like. i worry that seminary education leans too heavily on the theory and less on the faith seeking understanding on the ground. I hope that our universities haven’t created a false dichotomy with what is theology and what is practical. Theology is to be practical. Loving God, loving neighbour is intensely practical… yet so is critical thinking and debate which education gives us. Yet, is there a different way to do this?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story Chad!

  10. Charlotte Kroeker · May 3, 2012

    Having good theological grounding is immensely important in being a pastor. He or she must be able to answer some really hard questions from the congregation and the community. I would think that at least a year at Elkhart would provide a good grounding.

    • chris lenshyn · May 3, 2012

      I think so too. Solid theological grounding is extremely important. One commenter has been saying that he wants more from seminaries in that respect (challenging worldviews, developing spirituality etc…). I wonder what the best way would be. I would like to revisit this in some way shape or form.

  11. goodfridayblues · May 3, 2012

    well. this has been a fascinating conversation! wow! as someone who attends your church, the first thing i have to say is please don’t go anywhere soon!! but that’s just a selfish comment and i know you’re asking a larger question here.

    i think this conversation is not limited to the church world. i have a BA in english lit, which actually qualifies me to do little more than read books (which, sadly, no one will pay me to do. sigh.) i have served as a youth pastor, have worked in a senior’s home, sold clothing, worked in an optometrist’s office, written for Canadian Mennonite, served as music coordinator at our church and now write in the communications department at MCC. i have not been uniquely qualified to do anything i’ve ever been paid to do. BUT in many of my jobs, my employer has paid for courses that have been specific to my work which has been immensely helpful, practical and i think my employer definitely got their money’s worth. i agree with you totally that higher education institutions should be challenged to offer students education that is accessible while they are working. manyother professions offer this, why not the church?

    • chris lenshyn · May 4, 2012

      Lol. I can safely say we are not going anywhere anytime soon 😉 I can think of many degrees that many friends have received that have little to no practical value unless they pursue a masters level study. Even then, it is quite limited and low on the practical side.

      I appreciate your thinking beyond theological education. It speaks to a healthy wondering of our educational system overall!

  12. len1919 · May 3, 2012

    The scary one above is “more education, less health” correlation of leaders to congregations. I guess that confirms on the ground experience in China. When all the pastors and leaders were thrown in jail and missionaries were turfed from the country, the church exploded in growth.

    Also as above, it doesn’t seem like there are “rules” in this game. What is God saying to you? Follow him with abandon – not the easy road but the road to fruitfulness.

    I spent fifty-two years as a “lay” servant, and suddenly I am pastoring. Not sure I like it – just how God appeared to lead. Likewise suddenly teaching in a sem setting after a diversity of learning experiences (at Tyndale and Northern Baptist in “missional leadership”). What I like about recent shifts (among other things) is a further erosion of clergy-laity distinctions. More – Tyndale “in ministry” program is designed specifically to recalibrate Christian leaders “on the fly” without requiring them to reorganize their lives. Hmm. Every plus has a down side. A dedicated year or two can become “liminal” space, esp if you have to move.

    See? No rules. Follow the cloud.

    • chris lenshyn · May 4, 2012

      Hey Len

      No rules is quite freeing. I sometimes wish I knew what the cloud looked like so I could follow! “Follow him with reckless abandon…” I like that… in theory.

  13. garethbrandt · May 3, 2012

    Since my undergraduate degree I have done all my graduate studies [at seminary and university] part-time. i would recommend this. It forces one to immediately contextualize and apply. You get an education [I expect that my pastor will remain current in their field] and it is practical [it means something on the street]. Langley and Vancouver do give some options.
    Gareth Brandt

    • chris lenshyn · May 4, 2012

      Hey Gareth

      Contextualize and apply is soooo important for me as I wonder about even attending a seminary. I would like to push it further and wonder what a seminary would look like if it was started from scratch…

  14. Phil · May 4, 2012

    Chris (and everyone else),

    Thanks for a great conversation! Can’t tell you how valuable this is. I’m in my 14th year of full time ministry and still asking the same question.

    I read the Natural Church research about 6 years ago and that, together with my suspicions about seminary, have certainly slowed any pursuit of ‘formal education’ that might have been there. 12 years ago I heard Leonard Sweet suggest that a Divinity degree was just a hoop that pastors would need to jump through to get hired, but that the real ‘education’ was ongoing. That didn’t speed up my pursuit of another degree either.

    I think all pastors value continuing education. I believe that being widely read (and reading stuff that most pastors don’t read) is a ministry life-line. Drawing lines of connection between scripture and the rest of what’s out there is what we are called to do. So being a life-long learner isn’t my struggle.

    My problem is with the formality and requirements of the average seminary. I’ve taken a few seminary courses and know I can do well by those academic standards, but wonder what those academic standards have to do with being a pastor. I know that the conversational style I use when drafting a sermon would be evicerated as sloppy academic work in a seminary. So I’d have to revert to the fancy-shmancy language used by academics to impress them and get good grades – but to what end as far as the average carpenter or highschool student in the pews is concerned?

    Which kind of leads me to share the dark side of this – the temptation. At this point I can’t deny that a big motivating factor (would I enroll in seminary) would be to come out on the other end having achieved the degree and appearing more ‘legitimate’ and ‘qualified’ among my peers, pperhaps looking like a better qualified candidate for some other position. But none of that seems to have anything to do with the church we read about in the New Testament.

    Alas, now I’m rambling.

    Thanks again for starting a great conversation. And with your proximity, if you continue to think about this, don’t rule our Regent. I know of two people who finished their Masters with remarkable, and artful thesis that stretch way beyond our ideas of academic achievement.

    • chris lenshyn · May 5, 2012

      As always, thanks for your words Phil!

      I find myself relating to all of it. A big problem I had just coming out of CMU was that my teaching and thought process was quite academic and caused quite a disconnect that I had a hard time negotiating. While not something that all go through it seemed to emphasize the academic ‘real life'(for lack of a better term) disconnect!

      Thanks again!

  15. Leonard Hjalmarson · May 4, 2012

    Hey – I spent six years part time and full time at Regent. Decided it was a cool place to hang out. Didn’t much care about the formal outcome. Was not looking for a job. It was rich. Maybe higher ed is less about where you go than about what you bring.

  16. Leonard Hjalmarson · May 4, 2012

    One more thing – someone above quoted Anselm’s credo (understanding). The monastics of the time had their own credo and it was different – credo ut experiar – “I believe in order to know (or experience”. Perhaps its the intersection of these two that calls our attention. If Seminary doesn’t lead you to a deeper love, its of little use. Love will lead you to understanding. As Eliot eh..

    “With the drawing of this love and the Voice of this Calling..

  17. Nathan · May 4, 2012

    Having recently finished a year of ministry after seminary I’ll give my thoughts. Seminary is not necessary for pastoral work, but it really helps. Seminary creates a different level of critical thinking and a deeper theological training that was missed with a Bible school undergrad degree. I also think seminaries do a disservice to students who don’t have any pastoral experience. My years of pastoral work previous to entering seminary were so valuable and enabled me to ask better questions and put abstract theological concepts into flesh and blood situations (part of the problem for point #3) As for the three reasons here are my quick responses. debt- yes! a huge problem. We sold our house and used all our savings to pay for seminary and still have debt. However, many churches are now giving time for people to go and take a class, and many seminaries (like CMU) offer a good number of week long intensive courses that you can take a week and do some studying. That’s a great option to keep debt low. 2) “Higher Authority” That has nothing to do with seminary and everything to do with the person. I know pastors with a BA or no higher education who act like they know everything and have all the answers, and I know people with PhD’s who are humble and listen to all voices. This is an exercise in humility that we all must continually strive for, regardless of education. 3) If you choose the right seminary and the right classes that disconnect between the schooling and the street is shrinking. For example my school (Fresno Pacific University Biblical Seminary) now offers a M.A. in Urban Ministry. It is incredibly hands on. All of this to say. Seminary for me was huge in helping me personally pastor better, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

    • chris lenshyn · May 5, 2012

      Thanks Nathan. I appreciate your words. Particularly about pastoral experience and its value in an academic experience. I know many who share your experience in a masters level setting. Some are the smartest people I know.

      That said I think seminaries can be better. That is the point of this convo in my mind anyway. Better at connecting crtitical thinking, Bible knowledge, praxis etc…. Being saturated in and learning from a ministry experience in a particular time and place is important.

  18. Thomas · May 4, 2012

    Education is useless without context – I often think my undergrad degree could have been far better served if I’d worked a bit (maybe to create ‘gap years’ for myself) after high school before jumping into my undergrad. I’ve arguably learned far more in the past few years SINCE my degree than during.

  19. Pingback: Another Kind of Seminary « Jamie Arpin-Ricci – Blog
  20. chris lenshyn · May 8, 2012

    Hi all, If you are interested Jamie Aprin Ricci has a great blog post on this topic… http://www.missional.ca/2012/05/another-kind-of-seminary/

  21. Ryan Harker · August 16, 2012

    Hey Chris, I just came across your blog. Really great thoughts, especially on seminary! I’m a student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in the states. I don’t know how familiar you are with AMBS, but I think it does a really good job (though it can always be better, of course) of bridging the gap between the street and the classroom. I’m of course not suggesting that you uproot and come to AMBS, but I just provide it as an example of a seminary that is working in the right direction. In fact, I had scholarship offers to some other really good seminaries, but I came to AMBS precisely because I recognized a good “bridging of the divide” between the practical and the theoretical. I recognized a big need in my life for this mix because I tend overwhelmingly toward the theoretical. Of course, I’m of the opinion that a good theoretical foundation is very necessary for those who are looking to be pastors for the Church. After all, bad theology breeds bad action in many cases.

    At the risk of talking AMBS up a little too much, I also think the school does a good job of counter-acting any notion of institutional hierarchy. But obviously, some hierarchy is unavoidable (and some is even effective). In my brief time here, I have definitely noticed that professors and students are equal conspirators, all looking to learn together and bring Shalom to our communities together. We all even go by first names here. It’s been encouraging.

    Anyway, all that to say that I share your apprehensiveness toward institutions in our postmodern context(s), but I think seminary institutions (CERTAINLY not all institutions) can be done very well, very “postmodernly,” and I submit AMBS as a good example of an honest attempt (complete with many imperfections).

    By the way, I really like your blog. Good stuff!

    • chris lenshyn · August 16, 2012

      Hi Ryan.

      I deeply appreciate your words about AMBS. My dad is an alumni and I have had many former undergrad classmates, friends and colleagues come through AMBS and have been impressed, continuously, of the work they do and people they seem to be pumping out. They seem set at pursuing the collision between Anabaptism and our current context. Which is awesome. I do still believe the seminary is still important, to save myself a bit of time see the post https://anabaptistly.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-seminary-is-important/

      I still wonder if there are better ways, more empowering ways, in which to do it. Things like debt and context will always be sticking points for me. Good theology and theory is important, obviously, but the above wonderings make me ask whether how institutional seminary is now is the best way in which we can do this important work of learning and teaching together.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Pingback: Top Posts of 2012 « anabaptistly
  23. Ryan Giesbrecht · January 3, 2013

    Hi Chris, I’m a little late to this conversation, but thought I would share a bit of my own experience in seminary the last couple of years.

    As you may remember, I am going to ACTS Seminaries (of TWU) in Langley, and have found it to be wonderfully enriching. The difference between you and I, of course, is that I did not take Bible in undergrad, but rather went to trade school. I think this might be a more preferable way to do pastoral education – do undergrad in a secular school on any subject (becoming familiar with the ways of the world, how culture thinks) so that you can better bring the Gospel into these circumstances. Having worked “in the world” for a number of years, I feel that I am better equipped to bring the kingdom of God into this world. I am more able to shine the light into this darkness having lived in it. Afterwards, then taking an MDiv degree would be invaluable for ministry, in my opinion. Several of the pastors in the churches I have attended have taken this route, and they seem to be able to connect on a much deeper level to the people they pastor in the pews and to the people on the streets than do others who go straight to Bible College and then the pastoral ministry.

    Unfortunately it is too late for you now to follow this route, but I still think that ACTS might be a good option as a seminary that is making a valiant attempt at connecting theology with practice in ministry. Most (90+% maybe?) of the professors there have had at least a decade or two of pastoral experience prior to becoming academics, and they seem to use this experience to enhance the learning in the classes. Something to think about…

  24. Chris Lenshyn · January 8, 2013

    Hey friend!

    I think you bring up a valuable point in regards to the importance of professors having pastoral experience. This is tremendously important!

    I can see the value in the route you suggest, yet others also provide ample opportunity to connect with neighbourhoods and people. It would be awesome to figure out a way in which we can connect with seminary ed, with on the ground life experience you speak of. Maybe it means job by day, pastor by night, or bi-vocational… interesting thoughts.

    Thanks for your comments friend!

  25. Joel peter · July 28, 2013

    Seminary offers flesh and sense knowledge, while on- the job- training give revelation knowledge.

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