“Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
Imagine for a moment that two individuals, Bob and Scott, are preparing to run a marathon. To prepare for this grueling endurance race, Bob says, “I’m going to read some books, watch a few videos, and go to a conference to meet some other runners and discover what they think works. Then I will train on my own and run the race.”
Scott, on the other hand, takes a different approach. “I’ll read books, blogs and other helpful resources, but I will also hire a coach who will advise me personally, put me on a proven training program, connect me to a group of runners who are training for the same distance and who I know will cheer me all the way to the finish line.”
Who do you think will finish the race strongest, if at all?
God calls all of us to minister and all of us to “run in such a way as to win the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24) For those called to full-time ministry, the need to equip and prepare is even greater!
Books, conferences, blogs and fellowship are all great things, but pastors and church leaders need more. They need a proven training program and coaching.
Reasons why people say they don’t need seminary.
Those called to serve God in a part-time or full-time vocational capacity typically give two reasons why they don’t want or need seminary training:
- It will squelch the Spirit, and
- It is not relevant or practical to real-life ministry.
Let us take a candid look at both of these arguments.
Seminary “squelches the Spirit”
“If I go to seminary then all of that dry academic, theological rhetoric will squeeze the Spirit out of me. God has already given me all I need to serve Him.”
Yes, seminary language and academics can become substitutes for an authentic relationship with God–but so can the lingo and methods of your favorite author/speaker or peer group. If you are already aware of this possibility, you are positioned to pursue truth in the context of a community of faith and learning and to be coached by a mentor/professor who can equip you for ministry while deepening your relationship with God.
Seminary is impractical and Irrelevant
“The stuff they teach at seminary is not the real world. I need ministry training and a way of doing church that is practical and will work.”
Too many “real world” ways of doing church are “cutting edge” and not proven over time and in multiple contexts. What is told at the biggest conferences and in the best-selling books and videos does not guarantee its lasting effectiveness, or that it will work where you serve. Why not learn how people have tried to do and be the church globally and historically and apply some of that to where you serve? Carroll’s model allows you to learn where you live and serve. The application of what you learn can be immediate in the ministry issues where you serve. You can still go to Orlando for that conference and speaker you like.
The real reason people don’t want seminary training.
Now, let’s be candid (in a loving and Christ-honoring way) and look at the real reasons people don’t want to go to seminary:
Fear & Insecurity.
Many feel threatened by the idea of coming under the mentorship of another, of training and disciplining oneself under the authority of another. Plus, in-depth theological training and biblical study may threaten deeply held presuppositions or push a student out of his or her comfort zone.
Let’s face it: Most seminary degrees are not cheap.
Seminary graduate study requires hard work, determination and the ability to integrate your training into your life of family, work, and hobbies. Like adding marathon training to your already busy schedule, you commit and find time for the things that are important to you.
Carroll is different for a reason.
Carroll is reinventing seminary by making it affordable, making it available where you live and serve right now, making it real and applicable to your current ministry, right now! At Carroll, our mission is to fulfill the Great Commission by equipping spirit filled, missional leaders; people like you! Our goal is Kingdom growth by returning a deeper understanding and knowledge of God’s Word back to the people in the local church.
“Churches should be little lay seminaries.”
God has called you to run the race. Let us help you race to win!
Learn more about B.H. Carroll’s academic programs that let you earn your degree where you already live and serve.