When I decided to look into attending seminary, I had no idea just how many seminaries there were! Had I been denominationally affiliated the search would have been (I assume) much easier, but since I’m non-denominationally affiliated the search was much harder and longer than I had anticipated. I spent hours looking into each seminary trying to figure out their stance on Biblical inerrancy, the Holy Spirit’s role today, how they view Jesus and a plethora of other issues that were important to me. Most of my search ended in frustration because I just couldn’t get a really good feel for who they were. It didn’t seem to help when I checked into the Statement of Faith on each seminary as they all looked the same. Finally I found the seminary that was right for me and my family, but it took a long time. So, for those of you who are trying to find the right seminary for you I would like to present three tips that I picked up along the way:
1. Pray first – I know this sounds like “church talk,” but really, pray first. The entire reason you’re going to seminary is because you feel that God has called you to do so, so why not ask Him where you should go? He knows the best place for you and your family and will help keep your spirits high when the search gets hard.
2. Ask your Pastors/friends – I honestly could have saved myself a lot of time had I done this sooner. Your pastors and friends have an idea of where you are at spiritually and how your beliefs are shaped. They will potentially have good insight on what you should look for or specific seminaries to look into. Had I asked when I first started my search I know I would have cut my search time in half. As it is, I know at least one person who graduated from my seminary (and loved it) and another who is currently attending. I also found out that I know another person who will be joining me this upcoming semester! Obviously you shouldn’t choose a seminary based on who you know there, but if your friends hold similar beliefs and stances on issues that you do, chances are the seminary they’ve chosen would be a great place to start. Ultimately the decision is yours on where you will head, but asking around can help narrow the search.
3. Speak with someone at the seminary – When you have a shorter list of possible seminaries, start calling them. Feel free to ask a lot of questions, they are there to help you and would love for you to apply to their school. Ask about scholarships, grants and loans. Ask about housing. Ask about the class structure and the percentage of graduates that are currently employed in their field. After you’ve completed a few phone calls, compare what you’ve learned about each seminary. At that point, you should have a good idea where it is you’re going to apply.
I can’t tell you how many times I called my seminary during the application process and after. The more questions that came to me, the more often I called. They were always gracious with their time and did the best they could to answer all of my questions, and I have no doubt that other seminaries will do the same for you.
The search for the right seminary can be difficult, but I believe if you follow the steps I’ve laid out you’ll save yourself a lot of time and a lot of headaches. Remember, God called you to go, He’ll light the path. By Michael A. Murphy Michael is a husband and father to three children. He and his wife will be moving their family from Michigan to Colorado to attend seminary this fall. Mike and his wife, Denise, blog together at theevertree.wordpress.com