Dr. Sam Horn, Executive VP for Enrollment and Ministerial Advancement
Ministry is complicated.
As I travel and interact with pastors and churches across the country, I see firsthand that the ministry is continually becoming more complicated. Pastors are facing increasingly complex challenges in our postmodern world. This applies across many types of ministries – I’ve observed youth pastors, teachers, counselors, and camp workers all deal with challenges ministering the Gospel in the world of 2018.
There is a battle over the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. We have to address a postmodern world where absolute truth is rejected. And we’re going to constantly face the pull of an anti-biblical culture.
Our church members are facing complex life issues and are in need of in-depth counseling and assistance – addicts, victims of abuse, gender issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression. Some of us are facing the enormous difficulty of revitalizing a dying church or starting a new one in an urban setting.
I think of Minneapolis, where I used to serve – in that metropolitan area alone, there are four million people using two hundred different languages among one hundred major people groups! How can we reach such a vast and multicultural city?
In times like these, it is quite easy for pastors to feel overwhelmed and unprepared. But there is way in this complex world for a minister to take his training to the next level. It may be time for you to consider going to seminary.
What is your reaction to that statement? Perhaps you’re a Seminary graduate and think, “Been there – done that!” Perhaps you’re in high school or college and thinking, “Maybe one day – but I’ve got to get this done first.” Maybe you’re a layman in a church and think, “It’s not for me.” Perhaps you’re a current pastor who wishes, “I’d love to finish that degree…”
Seminary can help.
I want you to think about the need for and the advantages of seminary training. Think about how it would transform your ministry, how it would affect those you serve, and what ministry doors it would open. What wider platform of opportunity would seminary training give you?
Yes, there are obstacles to it. Perhaps it’s time for you. You may be in full-time ministry already, and so how could you take time to sit in class? Perhaps it’s the cost. How could you afford it? Or perhaps it’s fear. Could you really get back in the academic mode? Could you excel at classes for another 2-5 years? Is a degree really achievable?
These are very valid concerns. But take a moment to consider and pray about the possibility of you and seminary. No matter where you are or what you are doing, seminary can be a valid and viable option.
When I graduated with my undergrad degree from BJU, I had a lot of friends who immediately launched out into the ministry. I saw them take positions at churches around the country. And I definitely felt a pull to join them. But instead I stayed behind to do more school on the graduate level. I felt this sense that I was missing out on real ministry by staying behind in seminary.
What tools are you using?
Years later, I heard a great illustration that helped me appreciate the fact that I stayed. Consider a group of farmers working in a field. All the farmers get a hoe to begin working on the harvest. Some farmers take that hoe immediately out into the field and begin working. It’s slow but at least they are making progress. Others stay behind for years until finally they can launch out with a tractor. They are accomplishing much more, but it took them longer to get there. And that whole time, they were looking at the guys out there with hoes and wondering if they should just take the hoe and go.
Still others stayed even longer and were able to finally launch out into the field with a whole team of tractors!
The illustration is simple – you can go out into the field with a hoe. Or you can invest the time in seminary and launch out with a tractor. The Lord has given us all tools. But some have developed those tools and talents in seminary to be able to reap a bigger harvest.
So whether you’re a student thinking about seminary or have a number of years of ministry experience, imagine what could happen to your teaching or preaching if you went to the next level. If you went from a hoe to a tractor. Imagine what could happen if you deepened your understanding of Scripture and equipped yourself to help people with complicated needs.
When I began to think about pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry, I had been out of college for twenty years! I wondered if I could do it. Yet I knew that I needed help taking my ministry to the next level. I could read books and try to increase my ministry skills, but I was not going to reach the next level without help. I took that step and have felt it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
So I encourage you to consider seminary. BJU Seminary has built programs that are flexible and affordable for men and women in the ministry. But whatever you decide, decide to invest the time, wait patiently, and go out into the harvest with the tools that can be used best for God’s glory.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.