The Seminary is Important

I have been fortunate enough to participate in fruitful discussions both online and in person regarding the relevance of seminary education for a post Christian (Post Christendom) context.  Over the course of these conversations a few important points have been illuminated for me about some very positive things that ‘the seminary’ as an institution is doing.  While I currently don’t think the following outweigh my own concerns, the dream and hope would be to in some way address the concerns and blend them with some of the very positive things that go on in the seminary context.  I carry this hope because I believe ‘the seminary’ is extremely important.

Intentional & Structured Learning – Intentionally sitting with a group of students engaging a particular topic is a very fruitful exercise in any learning context.  During my undergraduate degree I wrestled with many interesting topics such as the existence of Satan, non-violence, post-modernity and the Missio Dei (Mission of God) with other students.  Collaborative learning like this is extremely important to the further understanding of biblical texts and their engagement in each our own particular time and place.

Professors – The good folks who facilitate discussions or lecture in classes are very important people for the church.  Many of the most important theological works in our history were written by professors.  A good professor will hopefully stretch you academically and spiritually.

Networking – Seminaries offer a place to connect with an existing network of people.  I have seen the benefits of this in my experience with my undergraduate studies.  Many of the people I studied with, prof’s included, are now colleagues or people with whom I connect with on a regular basis.  They are my brothers and sisters on this journey.

The seminary is important.  I believe that seminaries are and will continue to shape the leaders of the current and future church.  For this reason we need to take a good hard look at what we do and how we do it.

What do our seminaries do well?  What would it look like to re-imagine our future seminary in light of its current strengths and weaknesses?

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10 comments

  1. Thomas G. Epp · May 8, 2012

    What I appreciate most about your blog is two-fold: It’s to-the-point (I love how short it is) and doesn’t sacrifice any quality in the quantity. Keep it up! (I’m still working through the thread on your last post!)

  2. psychosiswar · May 8, 2012

    I agree with this to an extent. Seminary courses are often inaccessible to those who cannot afford it. I think this type of dialogue and study should be extended within churches or seminary professors who can do “pro-bono” work in communities. To bring a basic yet in depth understanding of Scriptures to everyday people. Am I making sense? It’s late… Zzzz time 🙂

    • chris lenshyn · May 9, 2012

      To my knowledge, many universities and academic insitutions will send out profs to do learning tours where they teach in various churches upon invitation wherein giving congregants opportunities for further learning…

      Made perfect sense BTW! I hope you got a good sleep!

      • psychosiswar · May 11, 2012

        Pff… I need to get in on those free courses ! 😀

      • chris lenshyn · May 11, 2012

        Ba hahahahaha

  3. Chad Stoianoff · May 10, 2012

    I just wrote something similar to this, maybe for a differing viewpoint…you can find it here http://thedialecticoftruth.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/the-future-pastor/

    It is interesting to think about what roles seminaries and Bible Colleges will play in our rapidly changing Post-Christendom world. But questioning some of these old modernity institutions is a good thing, and can bring us through a good dialectic, to hopefully a better future, empowering more Christians to carry out the mission of God.

    • chris lenshyn · May 10, 2012

      That is exactly the point isn’t it?! “Empowering Christians to carry out the mission of God!” I’m not sure empowering Christian leaders includes going through the motions of a institutional system with it’s foundations in modernity and christendom. In a post-modern, post Christendom world empowerment looks quite a bit different.

      Thanks for your words, and good post!

  4. len1919 · May 10, 2012

    Some of the most profound discussions of the subject are in books that are not about theological education at all. I’m thinking of Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, and a much older book by Parker Palmer titled, “To Know as We are Known.” Related: theopoetics http://nextreformation.com/?p=2931

  5. len1919 · May 10, 2012

    btw, a larger but related question is this: why do theology? And further, how do we do theological reflection in community? I was working at an answer here –
    http://nextreformation.com/?p=5887

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