In recent months I’ve had the joy of talking to a few young men who are thinking about seminary. With that in mind, I want to share seven words of advice that come from my own experience, which inlcudes choosing a seminary, going through seminary, helping found a seminary, and now teaching at that seminary—Indianapolis Theological Seminary.
These words of counsel are not fool proof, but hopefully you will find them faithful.
1. Your church, more than your seminary, will shape the formation of your theology.
When I went to seminary, it became immediately obvious who the most mature students were—they were the ones who had gone through a pastoral internship at church just down the street from our nation’s capitol. Immersed for a semester or more in this church, these brothers had thought deeply about the church and had been shaped by the pastors and the community found therein. As a result, they came to seminary with a great understanding of the church and pastoral ministry. Moroever, their theological training built on a solid foundation of practical and practiced church ministry.
At the same time, there were other students who sat in the same classes and believed the same doctrines, but whose experience in the local church differed. As a result, this second group tended to maintain the pragmatism of their churches, even when their theology, defended in class, did not match the church’s methodology.
Certainly, there are other healthy churches beside the one highlighted above, but the point remains: Where you go to church matters. And, in my limited experience, where you go to church will shape your views of ministry more than the classes you take in seminary. So, as you go to seminary, do not forsake the local church or ignore the way that your local church will confirm or deny the faith you profess.