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September 23, 2009


Thomas Weaver

Great job, Matt! I'm on board the re:train and loving it.
Tom Weaver
A29, Mcallen Tx

John Pond

Thank you so much for writing this! I have felt extreme amounts of guilt and pressure for not going after my M.Div. even though I already have 32,000 in debt from Bible College. God has also given me great education within staff positions at Churches under amazing, older, wiser, men who love Christ. Thought I was alone!

For His Namesake,

Chris Canuel

Great post. One other concern is many guys, such as myself, get the call later in life when they are already working with a family and kids. I would love to go back to school, and eventually attend seminary, but at this time in my life, it just isn't an option. Prayer, immersion in the Word, reading and studying great theologians, and counsel within my local church has been my training ground. While I don't pretend to be a scholar, I have grown tremendously in my knowledge, and in my walk with the Lord. While it is still my hope that God will one day open that door for me to advance my education, I am thankful that I can still serve Him where I am, and I am still growing theologically, within my church and through my personal studies.

Thanks again for this encouraging article. Sometimes we all, including myself, get caught up in institutional education and how many initials one has behind their name. This is a great reminder that you don't necessarily need a professor and $50,000 dollars to serve God, and grow academically as you do it. Blessings...

Phillip B.

Agreed, speaking from personal experience! Even for guys who are academically-oriented, seminary isn't the best option -- because the classes are full of guys from unaccredited Bible colleges, the teaching is undergrad-level.

The point about online education is good. Most seminary classes are lecture-based -- not discussion-based -- so it makes good sense to do the iTunes/Biblical Training/Covenant Worldwide/Porterbrook thing rather than pay 700 bucks to hear some guy regurgitate a textbook for 3 hours a week.

An obstacle to helping men develop within the local church, though, is that increasingly few men have the intellectual tools to handle texts well, look closely at an argument, and put together sermons that are both engaging and rich. At my church, me and another guy have put together a book club/discussion group for young guys who want to lead in churches. We aren't doing any theological training. Instead, we're taking classic texts and helping these guys become better readers and thinkers. After a year, we're already seeing it have guys grow more confident in their ability to learn about Scripture in the local church, rather than in the classroom.


Interesting post. I am in seminary now, but am doing it (at least initially) over the internet. Online classes are WAY different than a classroom environment. For example, one of my prof's posted three questions in the on-line class room. I think that we hit 250 responses and discussion posts in that forum. Getting REALLY deep into some theological quandries. And when you can't figure out what NT Wright is trying to say, the 22 students plus a professor can work through a lot of the questions.

Plus, I am still working in industry, still have my local friends, and still active in my church. (I'm not fresh out of college, in case you hadn't guessed.) There is a lot to be said for this approach. (The 7 years for an M.Div., not so great, but got to have it to pastor in my denomination.)


Speaking as a layperson who has been under many different pastors in my lifetime I can't disagree more. Being a pastor is a very serious profession and shouldn't be gone into lightly. There are numerous positions in a church where one can minister without a seminary degree, and we should be urging those out there who do not want to make a commitment to a seminary degree to those types of positions, not making entering the pastorate easier. Being a pastor is as serious as any other profession, even as serious as a doctor, and you don't see the AMA out there trying to make it easier to practice medicine, to become a doctor you have to go to medical school, and if you still want to be in the health profession but don't have the intellect/endurance/commitment etc. you can go become a nurse/lab-tech etc. where you can help in the hospital but not actually practice medicine. The church should be no different. I have been lucky enough in my life to sit under some great pastors and recently in having to find a new church due to a move have run across pastors that are at best sub-par. These sub-par pastors all have had one thing in common, a 2 Year "easily-acquired" degree. I study theology, greek and other biblical topics for fun in my spare time, and I expect my pastor to have more knowledge than myself and be able to feed me, and pastors should be able to speak to those who are more educated biblically and in my experience these 2 Year degrees do not prepare pastors to have their stuff together. Seminary weeds out those who God is calling to be pastors and prepares them for ministry to all groups of people and to understand every biblical topic from soteriology to eschatology. Come on, it is riduculous to say that someone can acquire everything needed for the pastorate in 2 years and that 4 years is unnecessary except for those in the academic areas of the faith, that is equating a doctor with a nurse, and we need doctors to lead our churches. I have seen the tragedy of a 2 year degree firsthand and it is embaressing.

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