Seminary did nothing to prepare me for ministry in a post-Christian context.
This comment, which was an aside in a conversation I had with a pastor today, has gnawed at me all day. Several hours after the conversation, I tweeted:
Pastor who graduated from a UM seminary: "Seminary did nothing to prepare me for ministry in a post-Christian context." Thoughts?
— Kevin M. Watson (@kevinwatson) January 29, 2014
The response was slow at first, but gathered momentum throughout the day and into the evening. (In hindsight, I really wish a hashtag had been created to help track the conversation. It has gone in several different directions and is difficult to trace now.)
Here are the main things I heard in the conversation: Some people are happy with their seminary experience and feel that it prepared them well for ministry in a post-Christian context. Others were frustrated with their seminary education and felt that it did not prepare them adequately for basic pastoral ministry. But what stuck with me the most was a general confusion about the purpose of seminary. One person tweeted: “I have heard more than once that it is not a theological school’s job to prepare people for ministry.”
This raises several questions for me: What is ministry? How ought one be prepared for it? If a theological school is not focused on preparing people for ministry, what is the purpose of a seminary education? And why would it be required for ordination? To what extent should the church and academy be connected to one another?
My hope in this post, then, is to continue the conversation with a broader audience and without the 140 character limit.
What do you think the purpose of a seminary education ought to be?
For those of you who have attended or are attending seminary, what are your thoughts about how well it prepared you for ministry?
To what extent should the church and academy be related or interdependent?