I’ve been thinking a lot about seminary lately. If you know me, then you realize just how strange this is. I am very skeptical of cemeteries…ahem, seminaries. I recently heard a statistic that claimed the average seminary student drops out of ministry just two years after graduation. Wow, seriously? Whatever happened to "equipping servants for the work of the gospel"?
Shortly into my first year of ministry, I remember reading Steve Farrar’s Finishing Strong (a great book for any Jesus-follower, especially anyone in ministry, considering ministry, or owning a penis.) I remember being completely floored by the statistics he shares. He, too, cites the 2 year mark as the point in which most pastors exit the ministry. I recall just a couple years later speaking with Rich Peil, CEO of Reign Ministries, who spoke to me about his mentoring seminary students to help them prepare for future ministry. "Aaron," he said, "9 out of 10 of the guys I mentor are completely unfit for ministry." How is that possible? Why do SO MANY pastors crash and burn? And where do schools fit in to the problem?
I suppose I can’t blame it all on seminaries. I mean, it is only common sense that socially retarded home-schooled kids whose moms sew their pants and force them to watch TBN and read the Left Behind series are going to get eaten alive when they step out into the real world for the first time at 25 with their shiny new MDiv.
But that doesn’t mean seminaries are off the hook. After all, they’re the ones welcoming these guys into their programs. I completely understand that seminaries have to pay their professors and what not, I do, but shouldn’t there be a screening process to weed out some of these guys? "Hey man, you seem like a good guy and all, but have you ever considered computer programming?"
When it comes down to it though, I believe the real issue is not so much with the students, but with the schools – specifically in their failure to equip men and women for ministry. It seems to me that seminary, needs a complete overhaul. I’ve heard Driscoll say that he is convinced that seminaries are on their way out. He believes that all ministry training in the future will primarily happen within the context of local churches. Although it’d be tough to consistently do with excellence, I generally like the idea, mostly because it would force those who think they want to go into ministry to actually get their hands dirty first and DO ministry before wasting years of their life and the lives of their professors. This would also eliminate the damage that these people WILL cause if they go into ministry.
All that being said, I still find myself wanting to study the scriptures at the graduate level. And seminary seems like my only real option.
I guess I’ll just have to learn to put up with the home schooled kids and their crappy music.