My First Trip to Seminary

I have been in ministry for 15 years.  I have been a senior pastor for 13 of those years.  Until yesterday, I had never been to a seminary.

I grew up in rural Missouri.  Of the 30 churches in my local association, probably only five to six of those had full-time pastors.  The rest were bi-vocational, and very few of those guys had any seminary training.  This was normal to me.  (I was in middle school before I ever had a pastor that had been to seminary.)  Most of the pastors I had growing up were great men of God, that did a fine job shepherding our church without formal training.  So I always figured, "What's the point?"  Honestly, the only times I heard seminary discussed were with disdain.  Seminary was where good young preachers went to be corrupted by liberal professors in ivory towers.

While I didn't pursue formal training the first several years of my ministry, I like to think I continued to grow as a Christian and as a pastor.  I have always been an avid reader, and have been blessed with good mentors who helped me along the way.  But about four years ago, I became aware of an opportunity to pursue a master's degree online through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.  I signed up for my first grad class and, since that time, I have worked (very) slowly and steadily toward a master's degree in theological studies (all online).

While I have completed several hours of grad work, I had never actually been to a seminary until yesterday.  I attended the "For the Church" conference at Midwestern these last two days, and just want to say that I was greatly blessed by the experience.  The worship was rich and Christ-centered, and the sermons were biblical and stimulating.  (I also got to attend an impromptu theology lecture, which was fun.)  One visit doesn't make me an expert but, based on what I saw, good things are happening at Midwestern.  There is a good spirit on campus, and the seminary community seems genuinely excited.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere.  Dr. Allen has cast a tremendous vision with his "For the Church" emphasis, and people are buying in.

Southern Baptists should be proud of their seminary in Kansas City.  It won't be 15 years before I come back.