Monday Morning Insights

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    Five Things They Don’t Teach You in Seminary

    Five Things They Don’t Teach You in Seminary

    Shannon O'Dell shares five things that he thinks they don't teach in seminary, but they should.  See if you agree:

    #1 How to Communicate Vision
    #2 How to Lead a Staff
    #3 How to “Exhort” the Church Bully
    #4 How to Handle membership Loss
    #5 How to Love Your Wife as Christ Loved the Church

    What do you think?  How did seminary best prepare you for day-to-day ministry?  How did seminary fail to prepare you for day-to-day ministry?


    --Read more here at Shannon's blog; as well as see a video with Ed Youg & Ed Young Sr. addressing these issues.



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    1. Paul Clifford on Wed, March 24, 2010

      My seminary didn’t teach me how to have a regular job and give my life away at the church I’m called to be at, but not be on staff at.  Additionally, seminary taught me balance.  They never said much about the radical life that many of us are called to.  I loved my seminary, but they taught me average, not unusual—how to deal with a board, not how to storm the gates of hell. 


    2. drew on Wed, March 24, 2010

      How to listen.

    3. Pastor Chris on Wed, March 24, 2010

      They didn’t teach me in seminary that the ministry would be a matter of forgiving and being forgiven and moving on…over and over and over again.  And they didn’t teach me to work on a team.

    4. Dee Lauderdale on Wed, March 24, 2010

      Yep, I learned very little of this kind of stuff. Thankfully my undergrad is in business because seminary sure didn’t teach me how to read financial reports

    5. Randy Willis on Wed, March 24, 2010

      Good post and discussion.

      I’m not a seminary basher. While my seminary (in the 1990s) did not teach some/all of those things, it was a very formational experience, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

      That said, I think seminaries need to find a balance between *technical* formation and *spiritual* formation.

      The biggest challenge for seminaries in recent years/decades is the dramatic change taking place in the Church. Because the Church and the world have changed so much, the nature of leadership has changed as well. Academia doesn’t always respond quickly.

      I think the change makes the technical aspects (like the ones noted in the post) more important, though. Besides, how much technical formation was really necessary for people who would primarily be performing a chaplaincy role (old model of ministry), anyway?

      Incidentally, my D.Min. program in leadership that I completed a couple years ago at Asbury was much better in these areas, but then again, the D.Min. is more practical wheres the M.Div. is more general.

    6. Alan Stoddard on Wed, March 24, 2010

      I agree. Seminary didn’t teach me that stuff. I had to get mentors. And went through the school of hard knocks. smile

    7. Ken Eastburn on Wed, March 24, 2010

      Well lets face it, seminary can’t teach everything.  It isn’t supposed to not least because it is an isolated environment where you are learning from, at least to some extent, a distance from the ministry itself.  The problem isn’t that seminary doesn’t teach us everything we need to know, it is (or could be) that it doesn’t teach us the right things we need to know so that we can learn the rest of the stuff that we don’t need to learn in seminary.

    8. Dustin on Wed, March 24, 2010

      I could have used some “business courses”.  I loved seminary for the Bible information and the relationships.  Sometimes I feel like a chef/owner of a restaurant who loves cooking but has a hard time with the business side.

    9. Ted Carnahan on Fri, March 26, 2010

      As a current seminary student, I resonate with #1 and #2.  I’d expand #3 to include conflict of all kinds - not just with particular individuals with toxic attitudes, but groups of people who disagree with the direction of the church or who disrespect the leaders. 

      I’d say the thing seminary does best is formation in an “attitude” towards people, colleagues, and God.  I really don’t expect to learn everything I needed for the parish in seminary - my undergraduate degree was Computer Science, and we learned the principles to apply, not depth on particular technologies.  Same idea, different field.

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