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Discerning Calling

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Discerning calling in seminary requires a few things. It involves analyzing yourself, looking at your passions, and looking at your gifts. “Calling” is a specific concept and it involves making sure that area is where God wants you to be. You have to check that this is where God is leading you to.

In the first area of “discerning calling” analyzing yourself, it is a matter of looking at yourself in the mirror and trusting yourself to God’s leading in life. Your “calling” should be your desire to serve in a specific area of ministry. The specific “calling” should be a lifelong dream. When analyzing yourself you are making sure this is where you want to be in the next 30 years.

The area of looking at your specific passions is also a very important concept to grasp when “discerning calling.” Where God calls you is depending on where your passions may are. Our passions have a way of influencing where God calls us to serve him. If our passion is missions, then that person will decide to become a missionary as a specific calling. The idea of “calling” and passions could be the other way around. We could be “called” to a specific area of ministry but our passions line up better with another area of ministry.

Lastly, God’s calling on your life involves looking at your gifts that God has bestowed on you and seeing where they bet fit in a ministry context. The gifts in ministry that God has given you can lead you to the specific area of ministry that God has called you to. When our gifts line up with our calling then we know this specific area of ministry is where God has called us to. For example if our one of our gifts is preaching then that person will want to be a pastor and focus mainly on preaching. Also, you can be a pastor in another area of the church but not be required to preach every Sunday.

Another important concept about gifts influencing “Calling” is that certain gifts influence a different range of people. The gift of preaching influences that whole body of the church while discipleship only influences a few people. God gives a certain gifts to people but everyone does not have the same gifts. We are each given different gifts to glorify God and serve the body of Christ. All gifts are used to serve the purpose of glorifying God and serving him in ministry.

“Discerning Calling” can be hard at times when you have different gifts, passions, and desires in life. Finding out your specific calling takes a lot of introspection and analyzing specifically how God has made you. It involves a long process of seeing where God wants us and how that specifically works with what God has gifted us with to serve him in ministry. Our “calling” needs to be an area we are sure that this is where God wants us. This “calling” gives us peace about the future.

By Luke Urban. Luke attends Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. He graduated from TCU in 2010 and loves all things Fort Worth. He is studying to go into student ministry.

The Profs

Posted by on Apr 23, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

During the course of your years in seminary, you will spend hundreds of hours with a small number of men and women whose instruction, counsel, theology, and mere presence will have an immeasurable influence on the rest of your life. Whether you like or dislike, agree or disagree with them, your life and ministry will be shaped by those who stand at the head of the class and whom we call Professor. Some you may know—or at least know of—before ever taking a seat in your first class; you may even have chosen your school so that you could sit under their instruction. Others, though, are strangers, known to you only through their CV or bio on the school website, or through the input of other students. In a few years you will don cap and gown, receive your hard-earned diploma, and walk away from school for the last time. With a hug or handshake, words of congratulations and gratitude, you will say goodbye to the Profs—some of whom you will now call friend—with only the memories of their instruction and a few dozen notebooks. But who are these influencers, and what might you learn from them that appears on no syllabus? Let me introduce you to one of my professors, Dr. Gerry Breshears.

Affectionately (and a tad fearfully) known as “scary Gerry,” Dr. Breshears is Professor of Systematic Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, where he has taught for over thirty years. You probably will not earn a degree from Western without sitting for at least one semester in one of his classes. It might be possible to avoid him, to take a less challenging class, but don’t.

Although the three primary theology courses are designed to help students form a coherent systematic theology, Gerry’s quiet tutelage is formed not primarily in the halls of academia but in a life given to practicing theology in the mess and muck of the real world. As a result, the systematic theology he teaches is eminently practical. I especially appreciate Gerry’s ability to teach a wide variety of theological viewpoints, not merely his own; and in ways that allowed students to better articulate their own views. His extensive experience with different cultures and theologies—he has taught in eastern and western Europe, the Middle East, and the Philippines, in addition to the U.S. and Canada—has given Gerry a broad perspective on the diverse beliefs within the worldwide Christian church. His concern is never for mere agreement, but always for a solidly biblical defense. Whether in the classroom or with his scholarly associates in the Evangelical Theological Society (of which he is a former president), Gerry is quick to ask his favorite question, “where is that in the Bible?” And if the answer is not found there, then he encourages a caveat to the conviction: “It seems to me that….” On one particular matter, Gerry admitted that his theology had shifted over the three decades since he first began teaching. And in a setting weighted by younger students from conservative theological backgrounds, such a biblically-oriented openness breathed a fresh breath into the classroom, encouraging both rigorous study and a light grasp of our dogmas.

The clearest and most challenging element of theology that has stuck with me from Gerry’s classes is his teaching on the sovereignty of God. Addressing such matters as God’s will and the level and type of involvement he has in our daily lives, the question of God’s sovereignty lies at the heart of nearly all our concerns. It impacts our prayers, decision-making, and how we face suffering and evil. Gerry presents two views—the “script theory” and the “ship theory”—that are simple enough to hold onto with ease, yet complex enough that each seems just slightly dissatisfying!

In short, Gerry Breshears has an uncanny ability to help students work out their theology biblically while at the same time offering no easy answers. I think his favorite answer to any “either/or” question is a simple and unsatisfying, “yes.” Is it this or that? Yes. Did God do this to me or is it the result of my decision? Yes. Whether in the counseling office or the classroom, those are not the answers we want. Yet with great care, compassion, and grace, Gerry will never allow us to be settle for simple answers where none truly exist. And for that, I am deeply and eternally grateful.

About the author: Randy Ehle earned a Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership from Western Seminary in 2014, attending both the main campus in Portland, Oregon (three years) and the Sacramento, California campus (five years!). After five years as an associate pastor in northern California, Randy and his family moved to San Diego, both to care for an ill sister and to search for a lead pastor role. He is presently delivering messages of another sort—as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service—and honing his writing skills through his blog, “The Rushed Contemplative.” Follow Randy on Twitter @randehle or check out his own blog, The Rushed Contemplative, at www.randehle.com.

Biblical Principles vs. Traditions

Posted by on Apr 16, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

As my family and I prepare to head out to seminary this August we’ve been doing the very best we can to visit as many family and friends as we can fit in. This past weekend we went to a massive family reunion and it was so good to see so many family members at one time. We get together and play a lot of sports, catch up on what we’ve been doing and celebrate our common faith as one massive unit.

During this time of celebration, we were in “small groups” and the question came up about the difference between Biblical principles and traditions along with the merits/demerits of traditions. For me it was a very exciting question to cover as the family that we were with are all very traditional in their values and practices and I was eager to see what they would say and how they would react to such a probing question.

Some were met with confusion, others appeared irked by the question itself and others approached it very thoughtfully.

I think it is a fitting question to ask yourself before entering seminary.

In my mind the difference is simple: A Biblical principle is one that is found in Scripture and gives guidance on how to lead a godly life in accordance with the will of God. A tradition, on the other hand, is a man-made custom that is passed down for generations.

I want to make one thing very clear before I go any further on the topic of traditions, not all traditions are bad; in fact I believe that most are good and have the absolute best intentions behind them.

The problem that comes with traditions, however, is when we start to believe that our traditions are the only right way to do things.

As a denominationally divided bride of Christ, we agree on the supremacy of Christ and that salvation comes through Him alone and after that almost everything else has been disagreed upon so much that we’ve split apart. Some of that comes from holding too closely to a tradition over a principle.

The Bible is crystal clear on who the main focus is, but on the issues that have divided us it is obviously less clear. Baptism separates us, the Lord’s Supper separates us, the role of women in the church separates us, how you should dress and the list goes on and on.

I can sense you, dear reader, are already frustrated just looking at the list above. My guess is that is because you have preconceived notions on how every one of those “should” look. Please allow me to challenge you with this: whatever your stance is, the other side can make an equally compelling argument to support their stance. Could it be that it just might be a both/and issue instead of an either/or issue? Could “the way we’ve always done things” be getting in the way of growth and harmony in the Body of Christ? Can we admit that we might not be doing everything the “right” way?

I say we keep the principles and examine the traditions with an open hand.

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

Seminary and The Bible

Posted by on Apr 9, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Most Seminarians have a good knowledge about the Bible. The reason for this is not far-fetched: it is simply because the Bible is the center of theological education. More than half of what is studied in the Seminary revolves around the Holy Scriptures. This is why serious minded Seminarians graduate with a fairly good knowledge about the Bible. You cannot be a successful theologian without having a certain degree of knowledge of the Bible.

But for what reasons do Seminarians study the Bible? What is their basic motivation about the Word of God? In other words, what does the Bible mean to them? Do Seminarians study the Bible for spiritual reasons or for mere academic reasons? To put it more bluntly, do Seminarians consciously study the Holy Scriptures for other reasons rather than academic and ministerial reasons? On the scale of preference, will Seminary students rather study the Scripture to grow in the knowledge of God and His Word or in order to find answers to their academic work? I am afraid that the answer to this last question may be in the negative.

It is surprising to discover the attitude of many Seminarians towards the Bible. It is quite ironic that many students in the Seminary will rather spend many hours reading the Bible because of some academic reasons than read it for few minutes purposely to hear God speak to them through His Word. Such an attitude among Seminarians is not only uncalled for but also unfortunate. The Bible deserves a better treatment than this. What benefits are there in having mere head knowledge of the Word of God without taking the Word of God seriously? Such a knowledge can only lead to destruction. It is like the case of a politician who does not believe in politics or a doctor who does not believe in science. In each of these cases, the entire endeavor becomes nothing more than doing something “to fulfill all righteousness.”

The temptation to study the Bible just for mere academic reasons is very high among Seminarians. In order to guard against this unhealthy practice, Seminarians must make a conscious effort to have regular times to study the Bible for their personal growth in the faith. They must be willing and ready to allow God speak to them through His Word beyond what is demanded from the classroom context. They must also learn to love God and His Word and by doing so develop a conscious plan to know Him personally as He has revealed Himself in His Word. There is nothing to be compared to having this personal quiet time of listening to God through His Word. This is because God has spoken in His Word, He still speaks and will continue to speak through His Word. The Word of God is the wellspring of life from which the Seminarian can find answers to his struggles and challenges. This however does not come by mere reading it for academic purpose.

By Seth Kajang Bature. Seth is a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, PA.

Playing it Safe at Seminary

Posted by on Apr 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

A few years ago, I heard an excerpt from a speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt which made a great impression on me. It went like this:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

This little quote captured my attention because it directly contradicts a popular attitude which I see in myself and in many others. That is, we tend to avoid situations in which failure is possible. We carefully tailor our lives to avoid risk. Let’s face it: maintaining the status quo is far easier and much more comfortable, and so that’s what we do. We put our efforts not into overcoming obstacles, but into working out a plan for circumventing them.

Now to one degree, this is a wise attitude. I am not a tightrope walker, and I am not going to risk plummeting to my death just to see if I can walk on a tightrope strung between two redwoods. That is a foolish and unnecessary risk, as (I hope) all will agree.

That said, all risks are not created equal. Systematic risk (from a human standpoint) is a chief mark of a life of faith. One rarely, if ever, has all their ducks in a row when following God. He calls us to step outside of our own resources and abilities, and lean on Him, trusting Him to be fully enough, when we need Him. As Whittier said:

Nothing before, nothing behind;
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The Rock beneath.

Now that’s risk for you. At least it seems to be, until we learn how completely the Rock can be relied upon.

Also, risk is an indispensable component of personal growth, because it is inherent to stepping outside of our comfort zones. Unexplored territory brings with it the possibility of failure. Yet unless we move out into it, we will stagnate in our own, familiar backyard.
Risk is also intrinsic to the accomplishment of great things. It is not enough to dream of them, to sense a divine call to some noble task. At some point, we will have to put ourselves on the line. We may fail. We may lose everything we hold dear. This must not be denied.

…All of this is rather nebulous and theoretical. What does it look like in the context of seminary?

Risk meets us at every corner of the campus, should we choose to face it. Some risk isn’t worth it – such as the risk of neglecting people for the sake of pushing our GPAs a little higher, for instance. Avoid that risk like the plague.

When it comes to other risks, we should be meeting the challenge they confront us with. Take classes, for instance. Are we doing our best to avoid those that will really beat us up? Perhaps that isn’t the wisest approach. If we want to grow in our weak areas, we should be trying to work into our schedules classes that will help us, even if we don’t do very well in them. For me, that would mean the languages and homiletics. Plenty of opportunities for failure, there. But how will I grow, otherwise? If I just take the subjects I’m good at, I’ll be affirmed in my abilities, but I won’t be deepened very much. And for fellow Bible college graduates – don’t just duplicate your undergrad degree. Learn something new.

There are a plethora of other risky venues available to us, outside of the classroom. Look for a Bible study to lead, or a church to pastor. Pray honestly about serving overseas after graduation. Budget your salary from Starbucks to give generously to your church and to missions. Share Christ’s love with a homeless person. Submit a paper to ETS. Quit studying for tomorrow’s Hebrew quiz and take your wife out to dinner. Do what you’ve never done before – not for the sake of aggrandizing yourself, but for the sake of being a good steward of the potential which God has given you.

The more we risk at seminary, the more we will grow, and the more we will learn to trust God. Don’t be afraid of failure, because you will fail. We will all fall short. If you avoid risk, your falls will be fewer and softer than of those who do risk. But those who risk will know the power of God in their weakness. They will have tremendous failures, but they will also know God’s great triumphs in and through their lives.
Go take a risk (or two…or twenty)!

by Rebekkah Scott. Rebekkah is pursuing a ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a passion for the fulfillment of the Great Commission, that God might be magnified and all peoples blessed in His Son. When she isn’t struggling to parse Greek verbs, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors, music, and writing.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility Because Knowledge is Power

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

We know of the classic line from Uncle Ben (Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman’s uncle), “With great power comes great responsibility.”

We may also know of another classic line from Albert Einstein, “Knowledge is power.”

When it comes to the seminarian, the pastor, the bible study teacher, or the theologian, elitism or big-headedness can be an issue that they may encounter.

Van Tillian apologetics, the divide between Christocentric vs. Christotelic hermeneutics, and fancy latin phrases can all become a hinderance to one’s personal life. All these and many more are talked about and learned throughout the years of seminary, but it can become a stumbling block. As it builds one’s head knowledge, it could also foster one’s head to become bigger, and not in the good sense.

So, a sense of elitism, over-confidence, and pride can fill the heart and mind of this soon to be pastor and the current pastor, the first semester seminarian and the seminarian about to graduate, and even the layman who was exposed to Herman Bavinck, John Calvin, and Francis Turretin.

As sad as it is, many of us know what this looks like. But, just incase you don’t know what it looks like, it looks like this:

A person comes up to the seminarian asking for advice and counsel. In return, the seminarian gives him/her “extra” advice and counsel. The seminarian starts spewing out all these ideas, statements, principles from this theologian and that theologian that may or may not have anything to do with the situation. The seminarian comes off as “elitist” or “big-headed”. The one needing counsel did not warrant this. He/She did not ask for the summary of a 500 page book.

And all this happens even when a person or friend does not ask for advice or counsel. It can and does happen when the pastor or seminarian just wants to talk about and on these things at his or her accord.

Granted, there are many people that can be given the same situation, spew out all these ideas from certain theologians and books, and result in being helpful.

But, from my experience it has gone both ways. Most of the time, it can be received very negatively rather than positively. Many times, it can come off as being facetious, superior, and bluntly put, un-Christian.

There needs to be wisdom from the one with all this “knowledge.” It’s not easy to relate to others that have not read all these great theologians or did not have the opportunity to go through biblical training and classes. One must strike a balance of not coming off superior because of their knowledge, but also share and communicate their knowledge out of love and genuine care for the other.

This requires much prayer. It requires God to make one humble. It requires him/her to know when to speak and when not to speak. It requires discernment in knowing if it will be beneficial and hurtful. And if it is beneficial, it requires wisdom in communicating these heavy ideas, theologies, and principles.

With great power comes great responsibility because knowledge is power.

By Charles Chung. Charles is a Westminster Theological Seminary M. Div. student from Brooklyn, NY. He is also the youth director at Sheep’s Gate Presbyterian Church in Havertown, PA.

Going for More than a Degree

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

I will never forget my favorite phone call. My husband and I were friends at the time, co-workers at a hospital. He didn’t know Jesus as his Savior; although, he had been asking me more and more about him. When I answered the phone his voice was shaky and excited. He could hardly get a sentence out. He proceeded to tell me that he had been working with a patient who was blind, mute, and an amputee. He said for the first time he felt a surge of strong compassion for this woman and he began to choke up while speaking to her. He went on to say that the lady smiled at him, and in that smile, the Holy Spirit fell on him and he saw the love of Jesus in this suffering woman and gave his life to Christ right there in that moment. From that moment he has never looked back and of course we got married!

After we made the decision to move our family of five across the country for Seminary there was this giddy excitement and simultaneously the realization of our situation. The decision to move three children across the country with no set place to live or a job. Awesome! It was an interesting situation and definitely nothing less than an adventure.

After spending time in prayer together it became evident that going to Seminary, for us, was not going to be about the end result of attaining any degree. We were still praying over our food budget the next week. Instead, in every way, it has shown that it is about the deeper intimacy and trust in our Savior and the real day to day moments, memories, relationships, and lessons that we will learn these next few years.

The Lord is sweetly pulling us into a place of humility and surrender. We have been placed in a position where we are being surrounded by the love and generosity of other’s and you see isn’t that what this is about? Going to Seminary, to attain a Master’s degree, has nothing to do with being a leader on the top. It is about being completely and fully ready to be a servant, on our knees, ready to humbly lift others above ourselves; to be a servant, like the people in our lives that have made this move possible, or because we are to preach the good news of Jesus. The Jesus who says we are to be like him, the one who came to earth to become a servant and to die in our place.

I will always find it no coincidence that God has given us the testimony of the mute and blind woman whose smile alone brought my husband to his knees to give his life to Christ. I am not sure she even knows what happened that day. As we move forward with studying God’s word in an academic setting such as Seminary, we will always remember that God’s kingdom says that the first shall be last. This is about serving others and not elevating ourselves. The only elevating I hope to attain from this Seminary experience is closer to the throne room and the presence of God.

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” 1 Corinthians 1:27

By Denise J. Murphy Denise is a mother of three young children and passionate about people stepping into their individual calling. Their family will be moving from Michigan to Colorado this fall so her husband, Mike, can attend Denver Seminary. Mike and Denise blog together at theevertree.wordpress.com.

I don’t want to be a pastor, but I’m in seminary

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

This topic is very close to my heart as I am, that’s right, a woman who completed seminary. During my years of working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Missions (now known as cross cultural studies) I found that being in a church planting organization’s college, the main focus was on pastors. A good percentage of the women in my degree plan were only seeking out a husband who was a pastoral or missions major to marry. I, on the other hand, wanted the education.

My first two years, as with most college experiences, were mostly gen eds and I found that the majority of fellow mission’s classmates had the same classes that I did. Naively I assumed that once getting through my so called “bone head” classes, I would then only have classes with mission’s majors. Come the end of my sophomore year, I found out that this was not true. The men in my courses were now taking the ologies, angelology, pneumatology, hamartiology, Christology and so on. The women, on the other hand, had doctrine I and II. That was when I first discovered what seemed to be a prompting to get married or continue on with a lesser education. I fought the school board on this very topic to no avail. I did end up taking hermeneutics and continued on to take advanced hermeneutics (one of two female students in my class) but no one really understood why.

After graduation, I applied for graduate school (still unmarried I might add) and found that, after a few courses in; I was much more interested in going to school for my M.Div. I took my questions to the head of the graduate school to see what the potential of my switching up my degree would be and he seemed shocked. No woman had ever asked him to be a part of the program. I assured him that I was not looking for a place as a pastor but he told me that it didn’t matter, women were not allowed. This confounded me as I, at this point, had graduated with my degree in Missions which also requires preaching and teaching. Needless to say, I dropped out of the program (other reasons having to do with a heavy emphasis on predestination defined as us 4 and no more).

All this to say, from a woman’s perspective, the school was basically saying, “You didn’t get married, you actually want equal education, you are pushing the envelope, and actually want to make a difference with your God given talents? Yeah, I don’t think so”. This, verses what Paul says in Galatians, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (NIV, Galatians 3:26-29).

Do not let anyone discourage you even if while in seminary you are put down for your major, views, gender, or just being different. Through all of the things I have faced in seminary and beyond, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons, mainly in seeking out God’s worth and not man’s version of what I should be. Sure I got married in my late 20’s, sure I waited till my early 30’s to work through a Master’s degree, but in the in-between God has used my hurts and frustrations to show me that seminary was well worth the fight. Learning about the Bible, how to study it, and immersing oneself in the ethics and morals found therein, I now see that knowledge was and is put into practice in my everyday life to make me a stronger advocate for Christ. Don’t give up! Press on humbly for education as you can never outlearn yourself.

By Robyn Towler Robyn is currently working towards finishing up her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She lives with her husband and two furry babies: Lleywn, a one year old Welsh Corgi and Calvin, a three year old tabby cat, in Sunny Colorado. She is passionate about working with children and families and plans on adopting cross culturally someday.

Education vs. Experience

Posted by on Mar 9, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Education is important. Many employers and even ministries will not even give you a second glance without it. Continued education is a must. Become educated and you can do anything! These are all things I heard beginning with my first day in middle school. My family did not put the pressure on me and even worked as a force to dissuade me at times. I can proudly say that I am the first in my family to graduate from college, let alone seminary. My four years of full immersion into indoctrination made me feel invincible and excited to get out into the word and save it from itself. What I did not know, along with many of my peers, is that more oftentimes than not it is not that simple.

I was fortunate to land a flexible job as soon as school started my freshman year. I went to class in the mornings and worked in the evenings at Barnes and Noble. Not only was this a flexible job, but a dream job as my love for books and coffee has always been a source of comfort. Little did I know that this job would act as a force to balance my studies with real life experience. Honestly I did not realize this until half way through my freshman year. Barnes and Noble was the place where, in the small city of Springfield, same sex attraction was the main employable factor. Why they employed me knowing I was going to seminary, I will never know.

Life was busy. I lived off campus so my main focus was school and work. My spare time consisted of doing everything and anything I could at our church of 2,000 from teaching 3rd grade to working with drug addicts, I felt that I was becoming a well-rounded person and securing my place in “ministry” was more than important, I felt it was crucial. Sure I went to the occasional forum at the local state college where one of my co-workers was typically debating some topic in relation to being gay with some other student or faculty, but I considered my real ministry to be within the walls of the church.

Experience oftentimes equals more than just being content to reside where one is comfortable. My workplace was not comfortable, but I found myself having conversations that were not even considered in class, due to their “worldly” and sometimes really real nature. These conversations led to several accepting Christ within their own timing, after discovering that the few of us who followed Him were not the stereotypical judgmental type. Beyond that, I found myself developing friendships with my co-workers that oftentimes consisted of debates and offering up advice. I know now that God gave me Barnes and Noble to stretch and grow me while I had my head in every commentary in the library. My encouragement to anyone working through seminary is to remain relevant. Become a person who is (Romans 12:2) not conforming while transforming. Push yourself into the uncomfortable but always remember to hold your lifeline of believers tightly in one hand. Little did I know that my expectations of saving the world were unrealistic, but the work I was doing at Barnes and Noble was truly saving a few in more ways than one. Education is important but without application and experience, it is worthless.

By Robyn Towler Robyn is currently working towards finishing up her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She lives with her husband and two furry babies: Lleywn, a one year old Welsh Corgi and Calvin, a three year old tabby cat, in Sunny Colorado. She is passionate about working with children and families and plans on adopting cross culturally someday.

My Experience as a Single Guy in Seminary

Posted by on Mar 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Like every circumstance in life, being a single guy has its ups and downs. If you’re going to seminary as a single guy, here are four things I think you have every right to expect:

1. Loneliness. I left a fantastic network of very close friends to come to seminary. That sacrifice ended up being bigger than I anticipated. For starters, you should know that there’s nothing wrong with feeling lonely as a Christian. According to Bonhoeffer in Life Together, “The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body… and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God’s spiritual-physical creatures.” Community comes back, but it comes back slowly. There’s no way you can expect new friends to immediately replace friendships that took years to mature back where you came from. Losing friends is real loss, and there’s no quick fix.

2. Married friends. Even married people need friends, and that has been the best news! Last week, I organized a trip to Coors Field to see a Colorado Rockies game and invited four couples. Turns out, being a ninth wheel wasn’t so bad! I’ve learned how much more difficult it is for seminarians’ spouses to uproot and move to a new place. Not only have they left all their friends, they don’t even have homework to keep them company while their spouses are at work or in the library. Becoming friends with married people and their spouses has been great. Again, I had four couples over to celebrate my birthday with me last night. I’ve gotten to share my struggles with loneliness and let them take good care of me.

3. Academic freedom. Because I don’t have a spouse to care for, I can stay at the library as late as I want! The professors’ suggested reading lists aren’t cruel jokes, but actual possibilities! But the best kept secret of seminary is probably the office hours. Within the first three weeks, I’ve been able to go above and beyond the call of the syllabus and sit for an hour at a time with two professors, hearing them clarify and expand on points they made in their lectures. If you’re excited to learn in seminary, doing it single is not a bad life.

4. Awkward conversations. Inevitably, there are those unfortunate times when you introduce yourself to a pretty girl in one of your classes before sneaking a ring peek. (For those of you who don’t know, the ring peek is a subtle but essential move wherein you check one’s left ring-finger to determine their relationship status.) So know this: the peek is important. Fortunately, though, most seminarians I’ve met have the maturity to know that friendship is important in seasons of change, and there are plenty of people, married or not, looking for new friends.

By Jack Franicevich Jack is an MDiv student at Denver Seminary. His interests range from the doctrine of the church, theologies of friendship and work, preaching, hymn-writing, and grassroots ecumenism to competitive table tennis, cooking for large groups, classical literature, and organizational development.