Choosing a seminary should be a rigorous endeavor. Excelling in choosing a seminary is tantamount in one’s gospel ministry preparation. Here, I will propose five questions to ask when one is attempting to choose the right seminary.
First, does the seminary emphasize teaching and preaching the inerrant and sufficient Word of God? This is crucial because the vast majority of bible institutes will claim that they do, but this will clearly not be what is actually practiced and even observed in the life of the faculty which inevitably flows into the student body. That one is preparing for the ministry by studying at an institution that believes and practices the sufficiency of God’s Word—that it is truly sufficient for all life and godliness. This first point is a non-negotiable because it is through accurate preaching of it that lives are transformed. Truly, our Lord’s Word will not return to Him void.
Second, will the seminary provide discipleship? Being adequately prepared for gospel ministry means that one is able to lead with a life of godliness. This most often comes when young men are submitted to older men in their life and inviting rebuke, correction, and teaching. Especially during one’s seminary years, he must make sure to pursue an active discipleship relationship in his life. In ministry, one may become equipped in the biblical languages, systematic theology, and hermeneutical principles, but if his life is not one that is worth emulating in the local church, he will forfeit his right to be a shepherd of the flock. So one must carefully examine a seminary to see if it will hold its students to a high account to make sure they are constantly above reproach and not bringing dishonor to the name of Christ.
Third, will the seminary provide a lasting relationship? One of the most important things pastors need to remember is that there is no such thing as a lone shepherd. Aspiring pastors must constantly be refreshed and sharpened by those around him. One must be sure that the seminary he is attending is one that will provide a long and fruitful relationship, and that the seminarian will be able to develop relationships that carry on much farther than the walls of the classroom. Having a strong network of godly believers, church leaders, and church planters will be invaluable in the seminarian’s ministry years as well as into the future.
Fourth, will there be places to serve in the local church during seminary involvement? Seminary studies is only one part of gospel ministry preparation. Being prepared for ministry means that one is actively in ministry, learning how to apply scripture to people’s lives, learning how to preach, and learning how to be a leader amongst the flock. Without a nearby local church to train in these areas, one cannot believe he will be adequately ready to be a shepherd simply after seminary studies. Furthermore, involvement in a local church is in the Lord’s design for His sheep and shepherds to be in constant accountability with others.
Finally, is the seminary affordable enough so that the student is being wise with finances and is making sure his family is provided for (if applicable). Many times a seminary will be out of reach simply because of the price tag. This will often be a clear sign that it may be the Lord’s will for one to begin to look elsewhere for a comparable seminary education. In any endeavor, it is always in God’s will for the man as head of household, to be charged with leading and making sure his family is provided for.
Written by: Clinton Jung