Seminaries Don’t Make Pastors. Churches Do.

The Gospel Coalition | 4/17/2018 | Staff
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Editors’ note: This article was adapted from a new book published by Crossway under the TGC imprint, 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson. Order your copy today.


President - Person - Book - Seminary - Pastors

You might think a seminary president would be the last person to contribute to a book on what a seminary didn’t provide for pastors. Actually, I welcome the opportunity. I have committed my life to the education of pastors through The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and after nearly 25 years of leading it, I am more convinced than ever of the value of a seminary education.

But seminaries do not call pastors. God does. And seminaries do not make pastors. Churches do. Keeping that straight is important.

Seminary - Pastor - Ministry - Study - Quality

A good seminary can add immeasurably to a pastor’s ministry, and the rigorous study involved in a quality seminary education should be expected of any preacher of the Word of God. The theological disciplines are of crucial importance, and though a faithful pastor will be more than a scholar, the church learned long ago the necessity of a learned ministry. The most faithful seminary envisions itself as a servant of the churches, assisting them in making pastors. The seminary serves the church; the church does not serve the seminary.

Analysis vs. Experience

Pastors - Lessons - Ministry - Cases - Cases

So we should not be surprised that experienced pastors would be able to detail and document the lessons of ministry that were not learned at seminary. In some cases, this may reflect poorly on the seminary, but in most cases it points profoundly to the centrality of the local church and to the lessons of ministry that can be learned only through ministry to a congregation.

Seminaries do not call pastors. God does. And seminaries do not make pastors. Churches do.

Structure - Education - Pattern—three

The structure of theological education has developed into a fairly standard pattern—three...
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