During my time at Trinity I worked in the office of Admissions as a counselor for graduate studies. Quite often we found ourselves discussing the central question at hand, “Is theological education really worth the cost?”
Let me see if I can unpack the sub-questions implied in this meta-question:
- Is the traditional, on-site model really worth the cost of moving, living, learning, and decrease in overall income?
- Is it worth it to waste three-to-four years of one’s life in seminary? Do you really learn enough to become more helpful in ministry?
- Can’t you learn the requisite material in an undergraduate Bible degree and thereby make better use of your early ministry years?
- Do I really have to transplant my life and ministry (and family) when there are readily available on-line options?
- Is seminary really worth it for the local church — especially in a down economy?
When making a pitch for seminary, we had to be prepared to answer each of these questions.
The aforementioned questions provide an interesting framework for the topic of theological education. This question has become a hot topic in the last decade with folks from the Reformed Evangelical crowd (here & here too), The Assemblies of God crowd, and even the director of the Association of Theological Schools weighing in. Having recently completed my second post-graduate theological degree in December I have an increased appreciation for and perspective on the investment of theological education. Accordingly, I will spend the next few posts on the subject of theological education.
By way of introduction, let me begin with my transition to PhD work at Trinity from my MDiv work at Truett Seminary. Below is a video that my friend Jeremy and I made to celebrate our acceptance into Trinity (Jeremy was accepted into the MDiv program and graduated in 2010). The video was a nod to those high school athletes signing day videos in which the students select between multiple offers through a lavish and dramatic selection process. Jeremy and I were not good enough to have an athletic signing day. But we were so excited about seminary that we created our own seminary signing day.
Bottom Line: I am excited about theological education in the form of an on-site seminary experience. I believe it to be the best possible means of preparation for a long-tenured ministry path. In the following posts, I will attempt to wade through some of the various objections and hurdles that folks face in the process of discerning whether to attend or not to attend.