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?