back on campus, sort of.

a little while ago i thrust myself upon the academic frontier once again. as i type that, i grimace a tad. here’s why.

as if all that going back to school involves isn’t enough to hold you back, there’s a growing discussion in parts of the church world as to the necessity of graduate degrees in the ministry field. some church leaders might say that seminaries are failing to equip pastors for practical, day to day ministry. in fact, many effective, respectable, well-led churches will actually avoid hiring individuals who happen to have any sequence of letters after their name. i’ve been influenced by such pastors/leaders of these churches who equate seminary with cemetery (it always gets a laugh from congregations). the argument is quite simple. they cite the academic credentials of Jesus, who had no degree from U of Bethlehem to his name, and yet led a movement of love upon the backs of uneducated fisherman, a movement that is still shaking the foundations of our world. no hermeneutics classes. no theology. no textbook-led spiritual formation. just some people with huge hearts for God and their world.

so for years (almost a decade in fact), i’ve avoided the thought of adding any formal supplement to my under-exhausted BA in Communication/Journalism from the prestigious Truman State Univ (go bulldogs). and yet, throughout that time i’ve felt a desire to plant my feet more firmly in the soil of the Church. this type of desire and commitment causes one to seriously weigh his or her abilities, longevity and even passion. the logical step of going on to school to get more training (a common endeavor in most fields) was obstructed with the general reputation of seminaries as academic institutions full of old men and their dusty books offering answers to questions that no one is asking. whether that’s a fair picture or not, it can easily be supported by individuals who enlist themselves in those schools and then find themselves irrelevant to the sunday morning masses (and the greater world) with their new found knowledge.

fast forward through a few years of curiosity, prayer and maturing.

i knew it was time for me to do something. as a leader in a church as well as someone wanting to be more like Jesus, i felt a lacking of tools and perspectives for the path i was on. the last thing i wanted to do was anything that might put my faith in danger of drying up or becoming irrelevant. in the end, i was surprised to find seminary as an eager next step in my path. this surprise was coupled with an excitement due to how many schools are out there that are aware of their decaying reputation, and so are proactively partnering with churches and leaders to prepare men and women for the task of changing our world.

so i’m in. i once again get to save a buck every time i go to the movies (while not the primary joy of my seminary journey, it’s definitely a big one). i’m not moving, quitting my job or anything crazy like that. i’m continuing what i’m doing, while in school at the same time—i believe this will make the most of my education. i am already relishing from professors with pockets full of experience and heart. i’m processing these lessons in my daily church life with the people around me. and i’m journeying with fellow students in various settings all across the US (one or two beyond in fact). saturday i was studying for a test. the topic? getting the most out of reading the bible.

i’m sure this new dimension of my life will leak into the stories you read here.

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~ by bradherndon on July 1, 2009.

One Response to “back on campus, sort of.”

  1. let me guess: “reading the bible for all it’s worth,” by gordon fee? if i’m right, let me know how it reads. it seems to be standard fare for 1st year seminary students and was given to me as a gift a few years ago. i guess i haven’t read it yet b/c i i don’t really want to read the bible for all it’s worth…pray for me, brad. pray. :)
    hope you’re well!

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