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August 19th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

52 comments (+ Add)

What I Didn’t Learn in Seminary

I’m writing from my perspective. Obviously many of you had much different experiences. Here’s a short list of what I didn’t learn in seminary.

  • Believe it or not, I never had a class on how to do a wedding or funeral.
  • We never looked at how to manage a budget, lead a board meeting, recruit volunteers, raise money, hire and fire staff, or design church facilities.
  • I only took one class on preaching. In my opinion, we should have been required to take at least three if we were hoping to be a senior pastor.
  • We didn’t study any thoughts on kids’ ministry, student ministry, missions, or small groups.
  • Although my time in seminary predated the need, I think all schools today should teach pastors how to leverage technology in the church.

For those of you that attended Bible School or Seminary, what skills were overlooked in your preparation?

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  1. Aug 19, 2009 at 5:42 am

    I’ve always thought about this too. Many of yours were mine too. This might come from a slightly different angle. I never learned how to:

    - Put together a Sermon
    - Lead someone in receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
    - Cast out demons (on the mission field that would have come in handy)
    - Prophesy
    - Move in the Supernatural (Jesus taught His Disciples how to heal the sick and cast out demons, but you won’t see a class on that in Seminary).

    When it’s all said and done - Doctrine is very important, but the practical outworkings of the ministry is what is oftentimes not included in the educational process. The result? 20-somethings with a degree, wanting a fat paycheck, but don’t know how to love people, grow a ministry, or how to make a difference.

  2. 2Jason
    Aug 19, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Hey Craig, we actually had a class called “Pastoral Theology” which covered: weddings, funerals, building campaigns(woohoo!), whether or not to opt our of SS, etc..etc..etc.. In theory it had the potential to be a great class, but it was taught my a guy in his mid 70s who was never a full time senior pastor. So, although his information was not the best, it got us thinking!

    A thing I am working through right now is sermon prep. In my “preaching work shop” classes I would preach once every 3-4 weeks and when I have helped out in different areas of ministry as a lay guy the person above me usually gives me a lesson and says, “teach it” or at least assigns the topic. However, in my current situation I am spending 2-3 hours of prep time just looking for what to teach/preach. I guess I wish someone would have told me, “It is going to take a full 20hours every week to fully prepare your message, budget your time wisely.”

  3. Aug 19, 2009 at 6:18 am


    I agree absolutely. I have never heard about these things in my Bible School years also. I have taken a course on preaching, but it was all about the expository sermons with subtle feel that any other method is not as holy as the expository. Maybe this is the reason why I do not like to do expository messages until today :-)

    Well written piece. When I think about it, I would also add the line about one another think I have not been taught:

    “We have never taken a class how to take care about the soul of the leader, nothing on emotional or social intelligence, and nothing about intentional mentoring.”

  4. Aug 19, 2009 at 6:43 am

    I would agree. I’m in seminary now (13 years after Bible college and in my 8th year pastoring). None of the classes (other than maybe one for counseling) have anything to do with the hands-on part of ministry.

  5. Aug 19, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I think I see things differently. In my two year, non-senior pastoral program and year in a doctoral program, I learned plenty of practical stuff in seminary. I had a pastoral counseling class which included weddings and funerals (and fortunately also the counseling for both), a small groups class, and courses for developing volunteers for children’s/youth ministry. I had a ton of classes on leadership development which included emotional intelligence. I learned how Willow Creek became a great church and how to replicate their principles. I learned to structurally develop a Bible lesson given to children, youth and adults. I took a preaching class.

    I wish there were more classes on *why* we do those things. I had a couple philosophy of ministry courses, but they assumed that pastoral ministry was preaching, age graded teaching, weddings and funerals, leadership development and so forth. I never had a class that looked at whether or not our theology of pastoral ministry was accurate.

    I never had a class that examined current practice of sending children into one hall of the church and adults into another.

    I never had a class that asked the question if youth ministry focused on games and music was actually creating better disciples of Christ. I never had a class that questioned whether preaching to a mass audience was a biblical model of discipleship.

    It seems to me that there was a huge disconnect in seminary between theology (stuff like who is God, whether I should be dichotomous or trichotomous, premillenialism, and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin) and what theology means for everyday life of the church.

  6. Aug 19, 2009 at 7:34 am

  7. Aug 19, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Perhaps the education system of the world environment controls to much of the classroom experience in the Bible schools, colleges ans seminaries of the church. The driving force and bottom line in the classroom experience is more students for more support, so more students come our school , or so it would seem. That leads to accedemics that can replace the Spirit of the Lord and how He through the Holy might lead in the education of the person being taught.
    There needs to be a rethinking of the fact that we are in the world and not of it. The 12 were taught first hand by Jesus and He said that the Holy Spirit would lead into all truth and that the Holy Spirit would bring all things to rememberance that Jesus had taught them.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

  8. Aug 19, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I like the discussion. What I found to be interesting was that I was in my late 20’s and had 5 years of ministry behind me before seminary. I definatly saw this as an advantage because I had experienced ministry life. I got to ask questions and have conversations that were on a more practical level. I have often wondered if seminaries shouldn’t require students not just a few months of an internship but have years of experience before going.

  9. Aug 19, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I definitely agree with you on this one. There are a lot of things that seminary simply doesn’t teach you. I did have a worship class that talked about weddings, but that was because one of the guys in the class was going to officiate one just a couple weeks after graduation (and for some reason, I played the role of bridesmaid in our run-through; there were women in the class…)

    I definitely think some of the administrative side of leading a church would have been helpful to review before leaving seminary - making a budget, putting together a leadership team, starting new ministries, taking care of conference paperwork (I’m UM).

    But more than anything, I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be a pastor. How should I schedule my time? What are the priorities? How do I get to know the people in my congregations and the towns in which I find myself (I’m at a 2-point charge)? How can I light a fire under some people so they see that church isn’t a “Sunday only” thing, but it’s about living your life in total submission to God? If that was a class, I missed it…

  10. 10Dan
    Aug 19, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I felt that seminary didn’t teach me to think theologically/Biblically but instead tried to indoctrinate me to a certain thought pattern. That include pastoral theology. It was usually this works and this doesn’t. Do this. Don’t do this. My pastoral leadership classes were taught by guys that were or are on the front lines. However, I agree with Craig that there wasn’t a clear how to talk through certain contextual issues with small groups, youth, etc.

    In my seminary, it seemed like there were a lot of people that were doing ministry already and not looking for the foundation (like me the 24 year old). Many of them went to a Bible College prior to coming so they had already “gotten” the foundational stuff. So some stuff was glossed over. Plus, they didn’t teach how to be a life long learner either.

    There are some things the classroom can’t teach and some things experience can’t teach. Seminary is not a magic bullet and that is what seminaries need to teach.

  11. Aug 19, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Dude, Just wanted to let you know that the other day I posted in the comments that I sensed that God may be calling me to go seminary and that I had never voiced it. Last night it was clearer than ever. I think God is calling me get an M.Div. I’m checking all this with my wife and others so no absolute decision yet. All this to say that this series has been very helpful to me. Thanks.

  12. 12Joe
    Aug 19, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I learned about all those thing (and much of what is said in the comments) before I got to seminary. Seminary was the important and necessary piece called academics. Should all those other things have been there? Only for those who came to seminary unprepared by the world in which we live.

  13. Aug 19, 2009 at 9:47 am

    All 5 points mirror my experience in college, Craig. College was incredibly beneficial in some ways, but not so much in others. I also believe some things simply can not be taught. They MUST be experienced and worked out between you and God. All of our life experiences in ministry are a form of continuing education. Besides, can you imagine a course titled, “How to effectively eliminate opposition in ministry” and have a professor stand before you and try to explain how you too may perform an Annanias and Sapphira move on the next person who disobeys God in your church? Indeed, some things must be experienced.

  14. Aug 19, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Great post! I wish I was taught how to handle all the pain that comes in ministry and pastoring. What they didn’t teach you in seminary was how to handle with the pain when people leave your church angry, the pain when people argue over something silly, the pain from families ending in divorce and the pain from spiritual warfare.

  15. Aug 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

    The Bible School I attended didn’t teach as much academic knowledge as a seminary (e.g Greek exegetical skills, etc). but they were good to teach many of the items listed to the students whose plan was pastoring.

    If you took the route of student ministry, the later classes were geared towards SM but gave you classes that cross=-pollinated ideas from the others as well.

  16. Aug 19, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I had a lot of very practical classes at the end of my three years in seminary. However, they were practical for serving in the church in the 1950’s-1970’s. There was nothing that pointed to the future.

    That being said, I appreciate my seminary training more and more as time goes by.

  17. 17Nate Warren
    Aug 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm


    All good thoughts. At the Bible College I went to in the Midwest we did have to take several classes related to preaching. We even had a “pastoral theology” class where we discussed how to: hatch, match, and dispatch (baby dedications, weddings, and funerals). But other than that, my higher education lacked many of the practical skills needed to lead as a pastor in the church world. John Maxwell has 4 thoughts on what seminary didn’t teach him (Relationship building, Encouraging, Attitude, and Leadership skills).

    Thanks for the post…it was thought-provoking.

  18. Aug 19, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I did not learn how to work with local government in a building project as well as issues with site planning, drainage, etc

  19. 19monica mowdy
    Aug 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I just graduated and had three classes in preaching and I had children, youth, missions, etc. But I sure could have used the financial info as well as the technology info. The other was offered just ran out of time, electives and didn’t want to rack up any more loan debt. That is what we need - more financial help.

  20. Aug 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for this series of posts and all the comments on it as well. I’ve been considering going to seminary and reading through all of this is really helping me when looking at what each seminary/college offers.

  21. Aug 19, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I’m about to cross the M.Div finish line, and my experience matches up with all of the points you listed, with the exception of the student ministry part of point 4. I took one student ministries class, and it was excellent. I also took one pastoral theology class, but it was a big disappointment.

    I have learned much in my seminary career, and it enriched my ministry tremendously. For three years I was actively working in ministry while going to school, and that was very helpful. I think that seminaries need to figure out how to incorporate some business classes into their curricula, because the fact is, running a church is a lot like running a business. Teaching technological savvy would be helpful as well, but it seems to be that business know-how is a more pressing need.

  22. Aug 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm


    Awesome Post, you really demonstrate a hole that academia hasn’t filled very well. But I always wonder why the local church doesn’t identify those going into professional ministry and set up a personal mentorship that at least exposes them to what you have listed. I think much of this information should be primed into a disciple by a mentor before they take a leap into seminary! -Ryan, 26 (currently unemployed)

  23. Aug 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Well here is a totally different approach to all the comments at least. First my gender is different than the others, second I started my schooling way late in life.

    So life got lived, Christ invaded, life still got lived, worked through and out of the “stuff” of life, then the call…..I resisted, but he persisted, today I am half way through the education side which is online course of study at NNU. This is a straight forward ministry focused and concise course, although it takes about 5 years to complete, and it’s intent is to prep you for the work….so it includes all the above, when complete, I will have no degree no doctorate….just the call and a whole lot of practical education….I love it and thanks for the question…

  24. Aug 19, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    How to lead an effective meeting.
    How to be a good staff pastor.
    How to not let your seminary education get in the way of effective ministry.
    How to choose the right battles.

  25. 25Angela
    Aug 19, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Isn’t it amazing that we ‘train’ people for ministry the same fashion we train them for teaching or business? If ministry engages in the practical area’s of life you would think it would be important enough to add into training… You can teach a person various ways to study the Bible and grow in their knowledge of theology so that they can continue that through out their life but why not teach them how to engage in the practical area’s of ministry? I think party b/c there would be no real distinctive test you could give to measure understanding… some people may get it right away and others would need to take the same class each year for all 4+ years..

  26. 26Russell
    Aug 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    At my baptist seminary there was a large push for theology and language. These are important but lack much application on day to day church matters.

    I took all of my electives in the EM (educational ministries) school because they addressed specific ministries and organizational systems. You have to be intentional about what you study.

    I had no classes on counciling. What do you say to an emotional and angry couple who are twice your age and vomiting all their beefs with one another on you.

    An honest look at the problems with church polity would have been helpful rather than the denominational line.

    How to hire/fire staff, set and achieve goals for changing vision and direction, and biblical church discipline would all have been helpful classes.

  27. Aug 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Seminary taught me how to think and how to do my own research. It also gave me a solid theological foundation. What I did not learn was how to run a church. That came from a year of interning under a pastor in a course called “Field Ed” and more so through OJT.

    There are some things that are difficult to be taught, they have to be caught. Sometimes that happens best through doing (sometimes wrong) and learning.

    All in all I was happy with what i got out of seminary

  28. Aug 19, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    So Craig, is this the beginnings of a LifeChurch School of Ministry. It sounds like you guys would be super equipped to lead a school that focuses on these issues that are not being addressed at seminary???

  29. 29Tammy
    Aug 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    at the Crytal Cathedral in California Robert Schuller started a school called The School Of Preaching. Some of the things you mentioned Craig you learned there. You have to have a Masters in Divinity to go, so you have a firm theological base, but the School of Preaching forces more the how to preacher and the business end of a church.

  30. Aug 19, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Wow, It really makes me wonder why we spent all that time and money to go to seminary in the first place. Sadly, professional requirements in the church are no different that any other professional preparations i.e. doctor or lawyer or engineer. I have many friends in these professions and they have the same observations both pro and con preofessional preparation. Although the docs do have one advantage in that there is a practicum requirement ussually with a senior practising phycisian. Personally, I benefitted greatly from my professional preparation cons aside, but what I do encourage is that all Seminarians insisted on being mentored by an senior pastor before they take charge of a church themselves. But this requires an attitude of humility and submission rarely present in an Mdiv grad it seems to have been trained out of them.

  31. 31Tony
    Aug 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    The Bethel InMiistry program seems to have a wide range of classes. Though I am certain they are missing the perfect blend of practical and theological, I think they do their best to give this tension some consideration. !

    You take the traditional Hermeneutics and Preaching classes, pastoral care, and some personal formation classes along with Systematic Theology 1-3, as well as full Nt and Ot studies… and you can’t forget the languages! You go through plenty of practicum in preaching and you do have some electives that can feed some of the more practical sides of ministry. But they do a great job of preparing you to contextualize the gospel wherever you are. Here are some of the classes that everyone will take in the M.Div program… much better and more practical than classes like Theology in Art, or Theology in literature, etc…

    Transformational Leadership
    Self in Community
    Culture and Ministry
    The Church in the Modern World
    Introduction to Global & Contextual Ministries
    Discipleship in Community

    While I do agree Craig that classes on reaching the masses with all of media options we have today is a good idea… and I bet you start to see those as Electives… who knows maybe they will ask a guy like you to teach it!


  32. Aug 19, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I’m a more recent graduate of seminary (’05) and I’ve noticed that as far as the local church is behind on things, the theological schools seem even further behind. There’s also a HUGE disconnect between the school and the parish. The most immediate difference most people notice in showing up to seminary is between those students who are serving churches and commute to school and those who live on campus and eat, breathe, and sleep seminary.

    I got some valuable classes on theology, history, administration, and leading/planning worship. I even got classes on “hatching, matching, and dispatching.” Of course, being United Methodist, we got plenty on the Discipline and polity as well.

    Where I think we fell short was on the quality and number of preaching classes, pastoral care (what I had never really got beyond psycology), and navigating some of the pitfalls of ministry. I actually have gone back and taken some MBA classes to help me with administration, though I rely mostly on other people to do that work.

    Seminary was and is valuable. I’ve got a ton of information to fall back on when a situation calls for it. In the same breath, seminary wasn’t nearly sufficient for ministry either. In my first few years, the difference for me has been in other pastors, active and retired, that have discipled me and helped me survive.

  33. Aug 19, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I think that the biggest issue in ‘going to seminary’ or bible college as its called here in Australia, is the complete lack of attention paid to practical application of what you are learning. I find it unbelieveable that there is next to no importance placed on giving students the practical hands on tools they will need once they leave study. After all Christianity is a very practical lifestyle, its all about going, serving, giving, teaching etc yet the very places we trust to train our pastors seems (by inaction usually) to totally fail at equipping students with practical skills…

    That is why I’ve worked hard to do all my study by distance while i’ve been actively involved/working at a church so that i can get the balance i need and learn both aspects to ministry. I think we need to think more about making this happen in our churches, because i feel the current model sets a lot of people up to fail as soon as they leave study and hit the ‘real world’. I know of a lot of people who have simply ‘disappeard’ from church after leaving bible college with their qualifications…

  34. Aug 19, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Craig, you’ve touched a life passion of mine - how to make seminary education relevant to ministry and calling. I have read these “what seminary didn’t teach me” lists for years - all a reminder to me of how seminary education might benefit from a fresh learning approach.

    My opportunity came in 2004 when I helped design a new seminary from scratch. Our approach? We identified 35 ministry competencies important for ministry in the 21st century- we use them to guide student assessment, shape learning in each course, and determine student project focus. Ministry relevance is no longer an issue.

    Sam Simmons, cofounder & learning designer
    Rockbridge Seminary

  35. Aug 19, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Go to Fuller. They have classes on all those (maybe not specific classes on each, but they address those issues in each). Yes, they even have classes on healing, driving out demons, etc., to respond to RG’s comment (#1).

    What they have not taught to talked much about is networking with other churches, which I think is a very valuable thing out in the trenches.

  36. Aug 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Sam #34, Rockbridge has a lot of good ministry oriented classes but I saw only 2 textual cources–OT & NT Survey. Seems to me a few more would be in order.

  37. Aug 19, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Tom - in addition to NT and OT Survey, MDiv students at Rockbridge also take two classes in church history, Christian Worldview and Theology, Bible Language Tools, and Biblical Hermeneutics, in addition to ministry/theology courses.

    I agree though, a few more additions to that lineup would be nice! They’re fairly new, so I think the focus is on a base set of classes well done, hone their approach, make it through accredidation, then broaden the program and probably a PhD or D.Theol. degree.

    On the plus side, in all lists people are giving on what they did not learn in seminary, much of the items are well covered in their core and elective line-up. To me the fact that a legit 100% online option is available is great and I hope that this will pave the way for a great emphasis across the board to help people already in ministry improve their foundation and skills where they are at. - Larry

  38. Aug 19, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Things I didn’t get from seminary:

    1) Anything about preaching. I took the Biblical Languages route & wasn’t required to take any preaching courses.
    2) No courses in worship, ethics, problem-solving, counseling, dealing with boards, toxic people, ad infinitum. ;-)


  39. Aug 19, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Your post reminds me of what my chaplain told me as I prepared to go back to seminary after a two year break. He said, “Seminary is an academic institution, and nothing else.” He’s right of course. I’ve had lots of history, theology, and apologetics, but no training. That is for the mentors.

  40. Aug 20, 2009 at 5:22 am

    I had plenty of preaching classes. I preached every semester for three years. My undergraduate had some of those practical theologies, although we learned how to song lead with the waving of our hand…

    Graduate school for me learned about counseling and practically applying and seeing people’s sins from a biblical God/sin relationship (against Psychology,etc). That is practical.

    The hard thing is, is that some of these schools are privately funded and those who fund it drive the style of education. If these are driven by older men of the faith who believe their ways were the key to growth, then that’s what’s going to be taught. How many churches of non-traditionalism fund schools in order to influence for future working men and woman?

  41. Aug 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

    God led me to choose my school and course of study precisely as I wanted a balanced first theological education with both theology and ministry. Hence I took up a full-time Master of Divinity (Pastoral Ministries) programme at Singapore Bible College.

    We had a good mix of language (2 x 3 credit Greek, 1 x 3 credit Functional Hebrew), exegesis (x2), homiletics (x2), systematic theology (x3), biblical theology (OT/NT, x6), church history (x2), and more emphasis on pastoral/practical theology, which included:
    - pastoral counselling
    - emotional health of a pastor
    - ministry & spirituality
    - pastoral theology & ministry (including basic discussions on conducting weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc)
    - leadership & management
    - change & conflict
    - growing a healthy church
    - teaching-learning process (including use of technology)
    - apologetics

    What we didn’t cover (but then again, how much can you squeeze into a 3-year, 96 credit course?)
    - Christian ethics (this was due to a lack of lecturer, we did apologetics instead)
    - specialized ministries e.g. children, youth (offered under M.A. Christian Education, or M.A. Pastoral Counselling)
    - administration (what Craig mentioned, about year-plans, budget, running meetings, church building, etc)
    - mentoring & coaching

    Also, I’m a a strong advocate of an integration of theological education and ministry experience. I spent 9 months in internship, and later, 1 year in ministry before going to seminary. Even then, I felt I could have spent more time in ministry, as this gave me a deeper and more mature/realistic outlook as I went through my studies. Also I went in later, e.g. when I was 27-30. As opposed to some of my younger classmates, in their early or mid-20s, with little or no ministry experience, you could tell that they had a fresh, raw, idealistic approach, which isn’t all bad, but I know some did struggle even after graduation and facing the “real world”, even in the church.

  42. Aug 20, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    [...] Source: SWERVE [...]

  43. Aug 21, 2009 at 11:22 am

    [...] Groeschel on What I didn’t learn in seminary. Craig’s experience made me grateful for the experience I had in [...]

  44. Aug 24, 2009 at 2:10 am

    [...] What I didn’t learn in seminary. Can you guys relate? I actually feel as if Fuller has done a good job training me in the areas listed here, but other seminaries might not. [...]

  45. 45Stephen Boster
    Aug 24, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Blogs and comments like this in blogs, magazines, and books, etc put seminaries in a poor light because the individuals did not truly understand the reason for their seminary education. I have a seminary degree as well as an MBA. My MBA did not teach me the issues of hiring or firing, it prepared me for the business world - not everything do you get in school - you are prepared. Some things are learned. Now, a human resources degree will teach some of those things, but is that the true focus of a seminary degree?
    Plus, what classes DID you take? etc. Where did you use you specific extra elective hours - ie. what classes did you choose?

    Seminary is a well - a well to draw from for the rest of your life - NOT to teach you everything that you may run into.

    In regards to the statements listed:
    § Believe it or not, I never had a class on how to do a wedding or funeral. - I’m sorry for your loss. I took a supervised ministry class that taught me these things as well as a funeral for a Christian and one for a non Christian, Lord’s Supper, baptism, graveside services, different styles of weddings, etc. We even created a book to use a reference for ministry (which has come in handy)

    § We never looked at how to manage a budget, lead a board meeting, recruit volunteers, raise money, hire and fire staff, or design church facilities. - some of these items I learned through the class Educational Administration. Some churches utilize others in the congregation (our constituents) to do these things. Why do you think you have to doand learn it all? Again, what classes DID you take - what was your degree? NOT all seminaries are equal. Sorry for your supposedly sucky seminary experience. We are prepped as ministers to the people, not to do everything for the people.

    § I only took one class on preaching. In my opinion, we should have been required to take at least three if we were hoping to be a senior pastor. - We took a year’s worth plus I spent some of my electives on preaching because I knew that being a pastor was part of God’s design for me. I took the onus upon myself to utilize the resources available at the seminary - not just the classes to get by. I was proactive in my seminary education.

    § We didn’t study any thoughts on kids’ ministry, student ministry, missions, or small groups. - I had this in my educational adminstration class. Albeit an introduction, but one nonetheless. AND, I learned the resources available to find the information I needed. I learned to work with others, how to find resources, and ulitize those resources. C’mon - you have to admit that change is so fast today that once a person finished their school experience, new insights would have been discovered. Understanding how to mine those insights was important to know what resources are available.

    § Although my time in seminary predated the need, I think all schools today should teach pastors how to leverage technology in the church. - I took a computers in education class. YET, utilizing volunteers and their creativity is critical for this. Why do we feel the need for seminaries to teach us everything about church life. Yes technology is cool - AND importantly useful for ministry today. But after the fact of your education - are you not utilizing it now? Don’t place your previous experience upon present day circumstances. Has your school updated? Some have - some haven’t. PLUS - again - what about garnering the insight from your volunteers? Think of how excited they would be to bring their technology passion to the table of ministry.

    It is like asking a basketball player to know how to manage the team, run the books, and organize the ticket sales as well as the salaries, etc. The basketball player was hired to play a specific position and practiced and developed those skills for THAT position. The seminary graduate is a member of a team of God given individuals of whom the pastor is the spiritual leader and shepherd. The student obtains the insight and education as to serve as a springboard in the most important arena - the God-centered arena. For without that God-centered focus, all the rest is dung. Yes, there are gaps - every educational degree has gaps. YET, there are resources available to help fill in the gaps (Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit for example). The focus for the pastor is to develop the spiritual relationship with Christ and garner the tools to help in that relationship.

    Stop whining about what you DIDN’T get and celebrate what you DID receive - an education from Godly men and women who serve a community of believers who gave their blood, sweat, tears, and hard earned money to provide you the education that you received. What are you making of your education?

    PLUS - your education should not have stopped at seminary. As leaders and pastors, we are lifelong learners. As spiritual leaders, we learned and delved into the riches of God’s Word. We can read Peter Drucker’s material later. Seminary is to learn the deep things of God and PREPARE for ministry. Preparation does not necessarily mean that you have everything you need. It is to teach you how to fish - not give it to you.

    I apologize for the strong tone in this post. It is not my intent to be rude or crass - just direct. I am very passionate about the seminary experience. Feel free to email me with your thoughts if you wish.

  46. 47Stephen Boster
    Aug 26, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Hey Craig,

    In all fairness, you are correct in the need to read your other posts. At the time, I had rec’d a fw of your blog post from a concerned collegue.

    I appreciate your words about what you DID learn through the experience.

    Here is my concern:
    I have great admiration for you and the ministry in which you are serving our Lord. In fact, I love your book ‘IT’ and bought it for my entire staff. I am very sensitive concerning the seminary experience. It seems that the prevalence of down playing the seminary experience is becoming increasingly more common today. For example, Steve Sjogren in his book ‘Irresistible Evangelism’ down plays his (albeit brief) seminary experience. I heard Carey Casey (National Center of Fathering) mention his experience in jest as ‘cemetary’.

    Imagine if you will, someone you admire, begin to seemingly speak poorly of seminary and continue adding links to the ball and chain of weighing down seminaries and the great role that they play for preparing ministers today. That stirring emotion desired to respond.

    Again, I mean no disrespect. In the items that you posted, they were more pragmatic in nature to church life. Therefore, giving the appearance, that seminary does not prepare one for the practical side of ministry, and thus creating an oxymoron of which the conclusion would bear someone to ask - should I go to seminary now?

    Our Father in Heaven is blessing your ministry. You have a voice. I celebrate and praise God for what He is doing in and through LifeChurch.

    I just needed to share my thoughts and appreciate you time. I am open to continued dialogue if you wish.

  47. Sep 2, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Hello Craig,

    First time here. I come from a fellowship of churches that do not require any seminary training, in fact all of the pastoral training is done in-house (i.e. their local church). The things you mentioned and RG, we get lots of that sort of training and experience.

    One of the drawbacks is a lack of biblical training, which in the church that I attend has been addressed by the addition of a Bible Institute.

    I think that seminaries are needed, just not sure if they are needed for Pastors. We need people to learn the sort of stuff they learn at seminary in order to assist the church with commentaries, bible translations, etc. Where would be without them? But I think that taking pastoral training out of the local church has been a big mistake.

  48. Oct 31, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I have been reading all your posts and I couldn’t resist telling about a new seminary that just started. You can do it online or onsite and it addresses all the issues that are discussed above since we started from scratch with those concerns in mind.

    It integrates theology/bible and practice. It is focused on application in your local church. so much so that you actually have to be at least part-time in ministry to even do the program. It really is like nothing else that is out there.

    I hope you at least check it out. Keep us in your prayers as we try to keep focused on our mission of make effective pastors to build the kingdom.

    Russ G.
    Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University

  49. Apr 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I am enjoying learning many of these things through observation, experience and instruction at LifeChurch & the University of Oklahoma!

    Thank you for your great leadership and pastoring which actually does teach me like I’m in class! I DO take notes, too :)

    LOL I used to take individual notes on your message construction, vocal delivery, body-language, and etc., listening multiples times (each time for a specific reason). I want to start doing it again! (So, I will!)

  50. Apr 26, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    [...] What I didn’t learn in seminary. Can you guys relate? I actually feel as if Fuller has done a good job training me in the areas listed here, but other seminaries might not. [...]

  51. 52Deb
    Apr 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I guess it depends on your seminary. I had classes in all of the things on your list…