Why Attend Seminary?

Why attend seminary, you might ask? People attend seminary for a wide variety of reasons. I learned this myself during my own seminary time. The most obvious reason, of course, is to prepare for ministry in the church. Some denominations (e.g. Presbyterians) actually require their ministers to attend seminary. For others (e.g. Baptists) seminary may not be required but is often recommended by one's local church or simply for professional development.

Broad Theological Learning

For anyone interested in theology or ministry, seminary is an incredible place to learn a wide variety of subjects. During seminary, you will take courses in biblical studies, biblical languages, systematic theology, historical theology, church history, philosophy, pastoral counseling, homiletics, and practical ministry. The breadth of learning is truly amazing and can prepare you for everything from further graduate study to church ministry.

Networking

If you're interested in entering professional ministry, one good reason for attending seminary is the relationships that you'll build with other students, professors, and administrators. Often times, these will be your professional colleagues during your ministerial career. You will become part of a vast network of seminary alumni, and so the possibilities for finding a pastoral position increase drastically. Seminaries and divinity schools will have some sort of placement service to assist you in finding a position upon graduation, should you desire one. So, increased professional exposure is one good answer to the "Why Attend Seminary?" question.

Preparation for Further Studies

If you are interested in attending graduate school in any type of theological or related discipline, seminary can be an excellent place to gain further preparation. Contrary to what many people might think, one does not need to have studied theology or a related discipline as an undergraduate to prepare for seminary. As a matter of fact, it may even be in your best interest to study a non-theology related discipline in order to broaden your preparation.

Still, let's say that you're a senior biology major who has decided that you would like to do a PhD in New Testament studies. Unless you want to change your major and add two or three years to your undergraduate work, it would make sense to consider an MDiv or MTS degree where you could receive in-depth preparation for further graduate study as well as a well-rounded theological education.

Related Careers

There are also a variety of dual degree programs available. Some schools (including Harvard, Emory, and Vanderbilt) offer dual degree programs in theology and law. Others (such as the University of Chicago, Duke, and Princeton Seminary) offer dual MDiv and MSW (Master of Social Work) degrees. A number of other dual programs allow students to combine graduate work in theology with related disciplines, greatly expanding one's career opportunities.

Know Thyself!

Finally, some people admittedly attend seminary just because they're "seekers" of one type or another. I knew quite a few people like this in seminary myself. I was even one, too, in some ways. While a seminary or divinity school student, you will be required to wrestle with "big" questions about yourself, God, and where you see yourself going. I, for one, came out of seminary knowing as much about what I didn't want to do as much as I discovered what I did want to do. And that's priceless!


› Why Attend Seminary?