In another article I wrote titled, “Why I Decided to Go to Seminary,” I gave reasons why I decided to go to seminary as well as specific things that confirmed the call to seminary such as feeling a great discontent, being led by the Holy Spirit, and witnessing God confirming the call to seminary. In this article however, I will give reasons why someone should not go to seminary.
As I explained in my other article, seminary is not designed to fill the “God shaped hole in your life” nor should anything else except God for that matter. Seminary is designed to train and equip leaders who feel called to shepherd the people of God, leading them ultimately to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ while encouraging, counseling, equipping them as well as many other aspects of making disciples. However, while this may sound like something all Christians should be doing, making disciples is by no means isolated to those who have gone to seminary. Certainly we should expect those going to seminary to be making disciples but the opposite does not necessarily hold true, that is, making disciples is not contingent upon going to seminary.
The primary reason you shouldn’t go to seminary is simply this: God is not leading you to attend seminary. If God has not led you to seminary then it’s probably safe to say that you should not go. Deciphering this however is a whole different story and can be very difficult to discern. If you read my other article, I give some very concrete examples of how God led me to seminary. However, short of these events actually manifesting themselves, I probably would not have enrolled in seminary.
Seminary is costly and not just financially. It strains marriages, relationships, time, finances, and even the ability to temporarily be involved in ministry. I have heard horror stories of friends getting divorced while in seminary or becoming depressed and losing all passion for God and ministry. This is to say that going to seminary for the wrong reasons, especially if God has not called you to it, can actually destroy lives. However, this is true for practically anything we do in life. If we engage in activities that God has not ordained, then the possibilities of wreaking havoc is drastically increased.
At the very least, if you are unsure about going to seminary then wait. One important reminder that we need to hear is that God doesn’t need us to build His kingdom. He is self-sufficient, all-powerful, and capable of doing everything without us…certainly none of us existed when He created the world.
Another thing I would caution against is going to seminary without any real-world experience. I work with and study alongside pastors and students who have received their seminary degree and are thrown into ministry life without any real prior work experience. They often have a disillusioned view of what ministry is like and become discouraged about being a pastor as they begin to work with people who are “of this world.” Being engaged in the “real-world” first can only benefit your effectiveness in ministry since doing so will surely do away with any “rose-colored glasses” that may be influencing your expectations of ministry. Perhaps while you are discerning God’s call in your current season of life, get a full time job somewhere and begin working with people outside “Christian circles,” if you don’t already.
Lastly, seminary doesn’t teach you how to love. If you believe that going to seminary will make you more loving or more patient then you are in for a surprise. Certainly seminary will teach you about God and what it means to be a Christian however becoming more like Christ is something that is between you and God. Others can help you and seminary can inform you but it won’t necessarily make you into someone more like Christ.
By Joseph Siacunco. Joseph is a Masters of Divinity Student at Denver Seminary located in Littleton, CO. He currently works at Mission Hills Church in the Finance Department and is a Certified Public Accountant. He has worked in Accounting since 2004 but also serves at his church in other ways including teaching and preaching.