“I feel sorry for you,” my brother said as he visited me one last time before we moved to attend seminary.
“Why?” I asked, surprised by the pity in the tone of his voice.
“You are giving up everything: your house, your friends, your church, and your dreams to follow your husband to seminary.”
On the surface, his assessed correctly. Jason felt passionate about finishing his seminary degree and pursing the pastorate, and yes, I made sacrifices for us to pursue that dream. But, in no way did I feel resentful because I knew the vision before us. I also know the reasons seminary is worth the sacrifice and time.
4 Top Reasons Seminary is Worth Your Time & Sacrifice
1.Pastors are seen as experts on the Bible.
When someone thinks of a question about the Bible, it makes sense to ask a pastor. But, when pastors are not trained in how to read and study the scriptures, it is easier to mislead someone unintentionally.
Scripture is clear in James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James goes on to say that anybody who is never at fault in what they say is perfect. Of course, we will never be perfect this side of heaven, but seminary studies are foundational in understanding how to divide the word with accuracy (2 Timothy 2:15).
2. Building ministry friendships for the long haul.
Ministry leadership lends itself to loneliness. Who do you talk to when you need a listening ear? Seminary is a unique experience where people from various backgrounds and locations converge to prepare for ministry. These people may become your life-long friendship support. Entrusting your processing thoughts to your congregation or other ministry leaders may not always foster community. Seminary provides a place to build a team of compatriots to call on when you live in the trenches of ministry life. I personally now have at least of handful of faithful friends I know I can call when ministry life gets complicated… that is more valuable than gold.
3. Learning from the expertise of others.
“The disciples didn’t go to seminary, but God used them,” I heard as a lure for us not to attend seminary. “Yes,” I replied. “But they had Jesus who lead the way.”
How awesome to follow the Son of God for three years and then be launched out? That would be amazing, but we have the next best thing: pastors and educators that have followed Jesus longer than us and have stories to share. They teach us about church history, how to study the Word, apologetics, and other practical ministry subjects because they have seen and tasted that the Lord is good in various ministry contexts. Yes, God will and does use many people who don’t attend seminary, but many of the best leaders in the church today are graduates of seminary, such as Andy Stanley, John Piper, and Francis Chan.
Would you become a doctor and not study medicine under a more experienced physician? If seminary is even an option, it is a wise investment to learn from the experience and expertise of Christians ahead of us on the ministry journey.
*4. Exposure to ministries outside your church context.
While on staff at a mega-church in Southern California, my husband and I connected with some pretty awesome ministries. But, seminary life broadened our view many times over. We have connected with para-church organizations, training ministries, missionary organizations, and even a rural church planting ministry, to name a few. As my husband enters the pastorate, our broadened ministry world-view will only serve to enhance how we are able to serve the local congregation, immediate community, and the world.
There are many reasons people will say, “you don’t need seminary,” but what I say is, “The church needs will trained pastors and leaders for this generation.” Seminary is the place to gain that training.
Why do you think seminary training is important? Please leave a comment.