Is seminary training and theological education important for pastors and ministry leaders? In this video, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Adam W. Greenway, discusses why seminary can be beneficial and integral for the preparation of pastors entering into the ministry.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
Three reasons why seminary is important for pastoral ministry:
First and foremost, I believe that the call to ministry is the call to preparation. I mean if you think about it, Jesus spent 30 years in preparation for a three year earthly ministry. And for those who are called, particularly into the extraordinary responsibility of shepherding the people of God as pastors, that is a calling that demands, I believe, the most rigorous preparation one could imagine because frankly the challenges and the demands of pastoral ministry are so significant that even though we may have the enthusiasm of wanting to get to the task right now, we don’t know what we don’t know.
That’s why seminary matters because in seminary there is a community of scholars and practitioners who love the local church, who love pastors and ministers, and are called by God to come together to invest in them. Not just the transmission of information, but to accomplish what we hope is the transformation of life. That’s what happens when we gather together in that seminary context and that’s why preparation matters.
2) Broad Theological Education
Another thing is because of the kind of ministry that you’re gonna be doing. The reality is many of us have a sense of what God is calling us to do right now, but that may not be exactly the same calling 5 or 10 or 15 years from now. And I believe we need preparation and a theological education that will be deep enough and wide enough to serve you over the long haul of the ministry.
As somebody who’s been working in a seminary context for many years, I’ll meet prospective students who will come in thinking they’re going to do one thing and then they come to our seminary and they’re doing something else. By the time they graduate they’re going to do something else. That’s why you want a theological education that will serve you for not just years, but for decades in however God may choose to deploy you. Because frankly I’ve learned I have a very limited ability to fully know where God will choose to use me in His kingdom service and so I want to be as prepared as possible, however God may choose to deploy me and that’s why seminary matters.
The third thing is because we believe something happens in a place of preparation that when you gather together in the sense of community, in the sense of relationships, something unique happens there in terms of how our God forms people.
You think about how Jesus spent three years in ministry and of all the strategies He could have undertaken to save and change the world, He called together the Twelve and He poured His life into the Twelve so that they could in turn go and be used and powered by the Spirit to see things happen that would literally change the world forever.
What happens when you gather God-called men and women in sacred space with scholars and people who have experience for whom life transformation has occurred in their hearts and minds and that they want to pour and invest themselves in others?
I know because of being around there’s some people who say, “Well, seminary’s more like cemetery. It’s a place where you lose the fire and you lose the passion.” That’s not been my experience. My experience has been that when we gather together God-called men and women, professors, all committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the Great Commission, amazing things can happen, not just for now, but to impact eternity.