2009 Photo by Lambert Wolterbeek Muller, flickr

Written by Kyuboem Lee Monday, 26 August 2013 00:00

Often, I find myself preaching to the choir with regard to urban mission--these folks don't need convincing that urban mission is an important and urgent agenda item for the Church and we need to do all we can to learn about urban mission if the Church is to be faithful to God’s mission.

But others will need more convincing. “I won't be moving into the city to live and minister there; my role is a pastor in a suburban church or a small town context. Why should I care about urban mission? My plate is overflowing as it is.” I will try to speak to them through this series of blog posts. If you are the choir, perhaps you will be find these posts useful as points of apologetics for urban mission. (Past posts in the series:

Chances are, if you are reading this particular blog, you are a believer in the missional nature of the Christian faith. You are convinced that the Church in the West needs to rediscover its identity as a part of God’s mission in the world, and that it needs to come out of its fortress Christendom mindset into a mode of being in which it winsomely engages the world with the good news of Jesus by word and deed. You don’t hesitate to brand yourself missional and your ministry the same. So you’re missional. Now what?

Could “Missional” become another buzzword bereft of substance? Conceivably, one can proclaim one is missional without working out the word’s deeper implications. The Western mindset can be a hard habit to break. Theological positions (missional or otherwise) are arrived at and affirmed after a great deal of effort and time--all without leaving the realm of your mind. Are we engaging the world more in deeper, missional ways now rather than before the labeling?

Perhaps Urban Mission might supply few of the answers to the question, “Now what?” In the missional paradigm, pastors and other Christians living in the West are for all intents and purposes missionaries, because they too are living in an unchristianized society, a mission field. No longer do we see an essential distinction between foreign missionaries and the rest of us. Therefore, it follows that in order to live out his missional purpose, Regular Joe Christian should become more and more versed in what missionaries have been getting trained in.

This is the premise of Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission, by Larry McCrary, Wade Stephens, Caleb Crider, and Rodney Calfee (Urban Loft Publishers, 2013). They would like to see the local churches in N. America benefit in their missional calling by becoming students of the knowledge and experience gained by culture-crossing missionaries. According to the authors, “The most underdeveloped basic Christian skills are those related to missionary thinking and practice.” (p. 24) There are certain skill sets that should be included in the missional tradecraft--such as understanding and exegeting culture, ethnography, urban studies, and contextualization, among others. Urban Mission has been giving these areas keen attention for some time now and stocking the missional tool chest. The missional church is invited to take and use.

Missional practice (informed by Urban Mission, among other disciplines) therefore makes concrete missional theology--it is missional theology not only in the abstract, but enfleshed and holistic, with hands and feet, living in concrete contexts and real people, today. Without the practice (or the tradecraft), theology becomes formless; it is unable to engage the world in the full-orbed way that missional believers envision their faith as capable of being.

But the practice in turn also needs the forming hand of a thoroughly biblical theology, or it will lose its soul. Missional practice will merely become another human-centered effort to make the world a better place according to our own understanding, which is in the end finite and even potentially more destructive than life-edifying. Missional practitioners live and act under the authority of God and his revealed word. So they bring their tradecraft daily under the examination of the Scriptures, and re-situate themselves in the larger work of the kingdom, the mission of God.

This sets off a dynamic of constant conversation between theology and practice. One refines and energizes the other, and vice versa. And so the Church matures as it treads this circular path between praxis and theology; action and reflection. We call this the hermeneutical spiral; the spiral leads us closer to Christ.

Again, you are invited: take up the tools developed by missionaries and Urban Mission over the years, learn to use them well, and join the task of mission in the world.

Dr. Kyuboem Lee serves as Adjunct Faculty at Biblical Seminary. He is the founding pastor of Germantown Hope Community Church in Philadelphia, and the General Editor for the Journal of Urban Mission (http://jofum.com).

 

Written by Kyle Canty Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

There’s a complex question that gnaws at my heart as I observe evangelical culture; “Does the broader evangelical church in America recognize that there is something that they can learn from the African American church?” I follow conferences and as of late, I’ve kept up with the missional movement. I love listening to those who have mined the themes associated with everything missional and topics around justice and mercy for the marginalized. I frequent blogs, YouTube videos and the major declarations put out by the evangelical machine.

During the past couple of years I’ve recognized the homogeneity of these circles—most of the speakers are white. Interesting enough, many of the topics that are being written about and presented at these events are topics that I’ve heard about throughout my life. (e.g., justice, mercy, meeting felt needs, etc.) Well before these were popular topics within evangelicalism, these were important issues among black pastors, preachers and theologians. The black church finds its uniqueness in the soil where it is cultivated - usually within marginalized and oppressed communities.

A movement without color

I was originally introduced to the missional conversation by my pastor; who is one of very few African American professors teaching within evangelical seminaries. We engaged in doing contextual ministry within Philadelphia with limited resources and tremendous opposition. One of the things that missional theology taught me was to question the things that contradicted God’s kingdom agenda. The thing that was missing for me as I viewed the movement was color.

I wondered to myself, ‘Does a black pastor of an inner city church have anything to teach a white suburban pastor?’ This question gets me thinking through power structures. The question is loaded with complications. Although loosely associated, the decisions regarding the broader missional movement rest in the hands of the few. The answer to my question gets to the heart of a problem.

The missional movement is relatively new within evangelical circles. In fact, the missional movement is still fighting back accusations that the overall movement is a sinister break from ‘traditional conservative Judeo-Christian principles and values’. There is a rapid delivery of books, blogs, conferences, fashion, tweets, FB pages and posts about this Biblical theme that’s been missed for so long by so many. Although there is this rediscovery of missio Dei and what it means to be sent, there is also a danger that the voices are predominantly white and suburban.

The privileged accent

If the voices of the missional movement remain largely those of the dominant culture, then there is the possibility that the movement will begin to speak with a privileged accent. Call it what you want - whether it is in a suit, tie and comb over or in skinny jeans, fashion rims, tatted up, it is still coming from a place of access, comfort and homogeneity.

Although we are in the age of post-Christendom, the existing structure of evangelicalism still wields a significant amount of power. The presence of Christian publishers, magazines, academic institutions, conferences, conference centers, radio programs and mission organizations are all part of a construct designed to win the battle. The proverbial ‘table’ that is so often talked about is actually nestled inside evangelicalism’s board room.

So it is often said that Blacks need a seat at this ‘table’ in order to influence what goes on as the movement becomes more mainstream. Why is it so hard to sit down at this table called the Missional Movement? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the missional movement is nestled inside of evangelicalism and this movement has not properly dealt with race. Different clothes and music, but the same homogeneity exists.

Deconstructing the deconstruction

The movement that sought to deconstruct Christendom needs deconstructing. The task of addressing inconsistencies within the movement is best handled by those who can view omissions and pathology from the outside. As the black church gets used to hearing about missional theology and the movement, it will recognize and embrace and add its unique accent to the conversation. However, I wonder if many will simply bristle at yet another predominantly white movement talking about Christians opening up coffee shops to engage in post-modern conversations when the national unemployment rate is 6.7% for whites and 13.3% for blacks.

In conclusion, yes, the black church is not without blemishes and the need to transform. We are not perfect, but who is able to speak to the ills of White Evangelicalism like the Black church? Additionally, one black conference speaker, professor or friend is not diversity, but could be construed as tokenism. It was brought to my attention recently by a friend and mentor that most Blacks can sniff out tokenism and so the Missional Movement needs to know that many of us know that a black woman on a panel covers two categories on the diversity checklist.

Learning from each other

I guess one of the things that I need to say is that there are many things that the movement can learn from the Black church outside of gospel music and our unique preaching style. The Black church and those it has produced are not novelties to be observed from afar—instead the body was meant to benefit from parts. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

Let me make this clear - preachers, pastors, Bible believing black folk have been busting their tail ministering to people in the worst conditions for a very long time. Suburban White academics are ‘probably’ not the best folk to reference when you need to figure out how to minister to oppressed people groups. If the missional movement is concerned with reaching the kind of folk that Jesus reached, then perhaps they may want to diversify their think tank to include inner city, bi-vocational Black pastors who serve within extreme conditions.


Kyle Canty is an MDiv graduate of Biblical Theological Seminary (2011) and a graduate of Cairn University (B.S., M.Sc.); he currently is a DMin student at Biblical, pursuing his doctoral degree in Urban Missiology. He serves as assistant pastor at Great Commission Church located in West Oak Lane, Philadelphia (www.greatcommissiononline.com).His passion and aspiration is to write on topics that will bring about the reconciliation of the fractured church in North America. He and his wife, Pam, reside in Philadelphia with three children. The article above was originally posted on Kyle’s website, The Rooftop - http://thecityrooftop.com/

   

Written by Charles Zimmerman Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00

Where have they gone & where are they now?

This month I continue with updates on some graduates of Biblical Seminary.  This month we visit with Mike Beates.  Mike was most recently at Biblical for our Conversations on Christianity & Culture series, where he gave a presentation along with Joni Eareckson Tada and others on Disability and the Gospel

What years did you attend at Biblical, and what degree(s) did you receive? 

I was at Biblical from 1984-88. I received the M.Div. and the S.T.M. (New Testament) degrees. 

What have you been doing since then?  Be sure to include information about your family.

Leaving Biblical, I took a position with Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Fla. developing educational resources, planning conferences, and editing Tabletalk magazine. During my tenure at Ligonier, I was ordained by the PCA in 1992 and served a dual call with Ligonier and as an associate pastor (without pay) at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Winter Park, Fla. In 1996, I was called by Reformed Theological Seminary to be Dean of Students while continuing with the local church. After 9/11, RTS cut back staffing and let me go, so the church took me on as a full time associate. I shepherded the church through the notable death of the pastor, Dr. Jack Arnold in 2005.  In 2008, I was called to teach Bible and history at The Geneva School (a Christian and Classical school) in Winter Park, Fla. More recently, I became Dean of Students at Geneva so I am shepherding 450+ students (and in many cases pastoring their parents), and helping to administer the school while still teaching the Bible classes.

My family when I left Biblical was comprised of my wife, Mary, and three children, Jessica, Jameson, and Abraham. God added Abbie by birth in Winter Park, then Elias, Shoshanah, and Josiah by adoption. They now range in age from 31-20. Mary continues her ministry in our home and has served with Bethany Christian Services “Safe Families” division as a foster mother to numerous children over the years.

Jameson (married to Tara with our grandson, Jackson) is a social worker in Reading, Penna., hoping to teach and coach. Abraham is a Naval Academy graduate and pilots a Sea Hawk helicopter for the Navy, currently stationed in Mayport, Fla. Abbie just finished a year serving Christ with “Campus Outreach” and is now preparing for medical school. Shoshanah is a baker with a local restaurant; Eli is a scholar athlete, playing soccer at Stetson University (aspiring to play for the men’s national team some day!); and Josiah has just landed a job with a local hospital in Orlando. We are thankful to God for them all. 

Jessica (our oldest) has always lived with severe and profound disabilities, so her life has shaped our family in many ways, not least bringing us into contact with Joni Eareckson Tada and her ministry, Joni and Friends. I have been blessed to serve on the International Board of Directors of Joni and Friends since 2000, and authored a book released last July entitled Disability and the Gospel (Crossway, 2012).

Tell a favorite memory from your Biblical days. 

I distinctly remember coming to Biblical from serving with Young Life staff and realizing that while I had been among the more conservative Young Life staff, I was probably one of the more “liberal” students at Biblical! And I remember at orientation Tom Taylor saying, “At Biblical Seminary, we are Reformed, . . . but we’re happy about it!” I have never forgotten that sentiment and try to live by it.

I was also deeply affected by Fred Putnam’s God-centered and devotional instruction in Hebrew, including his “lunch time reading club” that took a small group of students through Ruth and much of 1 Samuel. In fact, I mimicked this at RTS, conducting a similar club for 8-10 years where together we read (among other things) Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, and Genesis.

Contact information:

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mike.beates or also on Facebook under the title of my book “Disability and the Gospel”; and a recent interview in Tabletalk can be seen here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/disabilities-and-gospel/

Charles Zimmerman is the Thomas V. Taylor Professor of Practical Theology.  He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Calvary Church in Souderton.  He is married to Kim and they have two daughters, Ashley and Megan.

   

Written by Bryan Maier Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

As a marriage counselor, I have been amazed at the propensity of many politicians who disregard their marriage vows and engage in sexual behavior that at one time would have brought great shame on their marriage and career. Now it seems almost like a resume booster.  To add insult to injury, many of these men (it is usually men) ignore the scandal and keep on running for office (or staying in office).

Of course, the race for mayor in NYC is the most current version of this scenario but one does not have to look for very long to realize this happens a lot. It is not restricted to one political party (i.e. Mark Sanford or Bill Clinton, take your pick) nor is a current phenomenon (i.e. JFK, FDR or even Warren Harding who was accused of conceiving his daughter (with his mistress of the time) on the very floor of the US Senate.

Most of these men are married and thus when they are caught the media tries to secure some kind of response from the wife. Again, responses vary but one common pattern is the “stand by your man” response.  This usually involves the wife making supportive comments before the camera and cooperating with her husband’s portrayal of himself as a victim of some kind of disorder (two weeks in a treatment center ought to do it) rather than as a dishonest self-serving power hungry narcissist.

My thoughts about the women in these situations have been sparked by a book I am reading on the Kennedy women.  It is common knowledge now that whatever else Camelot was, it was a time when the White House was a place where sexual misbehavior was the norm. The “war on women” is nothing new. To cite just one lesser known example, JFK’s daily “swim” was nothing more than skinning dipping with two female members of the White House Staff. Like his father before him, adultery was the norm for JFK.

While all this is well documented, what is fascinating is the response of the women who were married to the Kennedys.  They all chose a form of absolute denial. They continued to appear with their husbands in public and support his career. They even vacationed separately knowing what their husband would do with his time. It is true that divorce carried a much greater stigma back then than it does today, but these were not poor, uneducated women who had to stay married for financial reasons. These were all daughters of wealthy families who could easily have made it on their own.

So what made them stay?

For some they traded their dignity for a position of power and prestige. Others received payoffs of a different currency. But they all decided for one reason or another that they would endure their husband’s behavior, which in the long run only reinforced such actions.  I am not blaming the women in these cases. The men are 100% guilty for their actions. I am just saddened that their wives choose to stifle their own voice.

What is the church doing to support the voices of women, not only those with unfaithful husbands but those who have been victims of sexual or physical abuse?  Are we aware of the temptation to cover up trauma and reinforce denial rather than truth? Will we cooperate with a cover-up even if the women in these situations are part of it? Is there a currency with which we could be bought off? I don’t have all the answers but as we watch politician’s wives sell their souls, how can we empower women to make other choices?

If this in an important issue to you, I would encourage you to check out the Global Trauma Recovery Institute at Biblical Seminary.


Bryan Maier, Psy. D. is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates.

   

Written by Dan LaValla Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:00

Last month, I had the privilege of serving on a short-term mission team of 28 men and women and high school youth who traveled to Kodiak, Alaska where we served the Kodiak Baptist Mission (KBM) for youth and families. On the first day, we divided up into five teams according to the giftedness and the work each person wanted to take on. I was on a team of six that took on the roofing and repairs of a three-story house and consisted of a professional roofer/general contractor, KBM’s executive director and maintenance director and my two sons (ages 14 and 17).

This was the closest I have ever come to experiencing the dynamics described in 2 Cor. 8:7-15: specifically, a unity in Christ characterized by a shared equality that was based on mutual respect and humility regardless of one another’s abilities and assigned responsibilities.

Reflecting on the trip upon our return home, I realized the conditions for experiencing the dynamics of 2 Cor. 8:7-15 were ideal for several reasons. First, all six members of our team put aside their selfish motivations for a unified goal to serve Kodiak Baptist Mission to the fullest of our abilities in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, our team’s abundance of time and effort were providing the skills and resources that Kodiak Baptist Mission lacked to make the repairs on their own.

Third, the project was too immense to accomplish for a team our size under normal circumstances, requiring several hours of overtime for eight consecutive days, through the final workday of our mission trip to complete the project.

Finally, we had the privilege of experiencing daily encouragement from our gracious Lord by witnessing miraculous answers to the prayers of many that helped us overcome extenuating circumstances.

While our team worked with minimal interpersonal tensions and strong relationships formed for the hours we worked closely in a limited space, not all of the above lessons were realized in the midst of the project or without challenges. As the coordinator of the mission trip, I admit that I felt our team was called to accept the roofing project, but I accepted with some fears and concerns about whether or not we would complete the project without injuries.

First, the size and conditions of the roof and house were extremely difficult; the executive director later informed us later in the week, several teams over the past two years declined the job for the number of difficulties involved.

Second, Kodiak’s climate is a temperate rain forest where it is common to rain three to four days per week and any bit of rain would have slowed us down enough to prevent us from finishing. Our church prayed for 40 days leading up to and throughout the trip and each team member recruited a minimum of ten additional prayer partners all of whom were praying for suitable weather to complete our assignments. For our entire trip, the weather was dry, a stretch the native islanders had never observed. The successful completion of the project was obviously the result of willingness to accept a calling with faith and not just on assessing our human capacity, selfless commitment to serve God and His mission, answered prayer, and our team working with mutual respect and humility towards one another.


Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association and is very active in his church and community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla

   

Written by Dave Lamb Monday, 12 August 2013 00:00

I was running in the rain a few weeks ago.  Later that day, a friend from work who spotting me on my rainy run asked, “Why do you run in the rain?”  (Usually when friends honk at me on my runs, I wave, but without my glasses I have no idea who I’m waving to.)

I said, “I like to run in the rain.”  I don’t understand the fear of rain.  If it rains we stay inside, we use umbrellas, we cancel golf tournaments and baseball games (but not football…).  We don’t go on runs. 

I like the rain.  I don’t like the fact that it makes my hair frizzy, but compared to the bigger problems facing humanity (national debt, climate change, royal baby names), a little moisture on the head seems trivial. 

The main thing I like about running in the rain is that it connects me to God.  God dwells in the heavens, humans dwell on the earth.  Rain connects heaven to earth.

Psalm 68 captures this idea as it describes God with his people in the wilderness. 

Psalm 68:7-10 (NRSV)

O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

8the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God,
the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

9Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;

10your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness,
O God, you provided for the needy.

OK, so God and his people were not running, but they were marching, slightly slower than running, as they went through the wilderness.  Then the heavens poured down rain, and they didn’t go inside or under their umbrellas, they said, “bring it on.”  They saw the rain as a blessing. 

Why was rain good?  Because it represented two good things. 

First, rain represented God’s presence. Rain came from heaven where God dwelt and the rain in Psalm 68 is clearly connected to God being with his people.  He used the pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night to guide them (Exo. 13:21-22), but according to Psalm 68, he also used a shower of rain to signify that he was with them.  He was God with them, not technically in the flesh, but in the water. 

Second, rain represented God’s provision.  God rained abundantly.  He showered rain everywhere, which somehow restored his heritage as it languished.  God’s goodness was connected to how he provided rain for his people.  It was a way he provided for the needy.  We all need water.  God provides it with rain. 

Next time it rains, don’t avoid it, bask it, run in it.  Gene Kelly advises singing in it, which is good, but remember who sends the rain.  Thank God for it, and connect to the God that provided the rain. 

What do you do in the rain? 

I should probably stop writing, our grass is long, it’s going to rain, and I don’t like mowing in the rain. 


David Lamb is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical. He’s the husband of Shannon, father of Nathan and Noah, and the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?He blogs regularly at http://davidtlamb.com/. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/david-lamb.

   

Written by Derek Cooper Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00

In my book, So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary, I tried to help individuals who were wrestling with the question of whether they should attend seminary. It’s an important question, and I addressed any number of issues related to it. One of the first issues I tackled in the book had to do with myths that many people held about seminary. In the previous blog, I discussed five myths about seminary. In this blog, I will discuss five additional ones, before offering some final comments about seminary myths. As before, these myths will be included as questions, as I often get inquires from prospective students with these types of concerns.

10 Seminary Myths / Questions

6. Do I have to know exactly what I’m going to do upon graduation?

No. You definitely do not need to know what you are going to do after seminary - only that you are called to go to seminary. Remember that most of us did not go to college completely sure of what we wanted to study or do for the rest of our lives. And for those who did know this, they probably changed their minds! You can go to seminary without knowing whether you want to be a teacher, a pastor, an administrator, or a layperson. In addition to the different programs and classes that you will take, both faculty/staff and fellow students can help you figure out exactly what you are going to do upon graduation (while you are still in seminary).

Nevertheless, it would naturally be helpful to have a good indication before you enter so as to save money, time, and frustration. I personally went to seminary not knowing exactly what I would end up doing. Would I be a missionary, a pastor, a teacher, or none of the above? What mattered most was that I believed that I was supposed to go to seminary. The rest fell into place while I was there. If that describes your situation, go to seminary. While in school, you will get a better feel for your interests and abilities. 

7. Do I have to be a pastor?

No. The general makeup of seminaries today has evolved considerably over the years: from ones historically made up of pastors and priests to ones currently full of students who are pursuing a variety of diverse career paths. Although seminaries will always be filled with future pastors, other more non-traditional opportunities abound. You can be an educated layperson, teacher, musician, writer, counselor, missionary, administrator, or professional basketball player (all right, not exactly, but you get the point). When I graduated from seminary, I got a job teaching Spanish to high school students!  It never occurred to me in a thousand years that I would end up doing that after seminary, but life is full of surprises. I personally know of graduates who have entered fields very different from what they had imagined - including medicine, business, art, the military, and so forth. There is no set path.

Obviously, if you want to be a pastor, seminary is the place for you. But if you do not want to be a pastor at all - like most all of my friends from seminary, quite frankly - then you will actually fit in more than you think. The trend today is for many seminarians to be in pursuit of professions outside of pastoral ministry. One of my good friends from seminary, in fact, entered seminary believing that he would be a pastor upon graduation. But when he graduated from seminary he took a full-time position at an art gallery.

8. Do I have to finance it myself?

No. There are many ways to keep money from coming out of your own wallet to pay for seminary. There are scholarships, denominational monies, local church support, grants, loans, assistantships and other part-time jobs that could defray the cost of seminary education.  However, do not rely on this as if it is already in the bank.

Research your school of choice and be sure not to enter into seminary with an extremely heavy debt. This is because the costs of seminary, like everything else in the world, are on the rise and definitely not cheap. One class, for instance, might cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. You have to be sensible financially when in graduate school because most people will have already accumulated a

certain amount of debt while in college. For this reason, many students work full time for a couple of years before seminary. This way you will have less debt after graduating. Of course, you could consider robbing a bank in order to finance your theological education; however, that is probably not the best way to secure money for seminary!

9. Do I have to write a dissertation?

No. Dissertations are usually only reserved for more academic and advanced degrees.  The run-of-the-mill seminary degree, the Master of Divinity, rarely requires a written dissertation. If you are interested in writing a dissertation while in seminary, then you should probably take a more academic route in your studies (or attend a graduate school of religion instead of a seminary). This is a viable alternative for those individuals who want a seminary education but do not want to become ordained pastors or priests. But only the advanced or purely academic degrees at a typical seminary will require a dissertation, not the standard degree. 

10. Do I have to live on campus?

No. Seminaries are, by design, graduate institutions. Practically speaking, this means that their students are adults and thus not able to drop everything - their spouse, children, house, car, pet, and iPad - for a degree. In contrast to many undergraduate institutions, therefore, graduate schools do not require students to live on campus during their studies. Students live wherever it is convenient for them to reside.

Nevertheless, many seminaries do have residential apartments on a limited availability. If you are willing and able to reside in them, there are many bonuses: They foster community; they are usually cheaper than houses and apartments in the surrounding area; they are in walking distance to class and the library; and they will enable you to make life-long friends. However, each seminary is different. Some campuses offer no housing; some offer excellent accommodations for both singles and families; others have hosing only for singles. 

My advice would be to live on campus if you are able, but stay where you are if you unable to move. Just remember two things: (1) Your seminary education does not have much value without the vibrant community you experience along the way. The friends you make at school are just as important as the classes you take. (2) Your primary obligation is to your spouse and children (if you are married or have children, that is). Keep in mind that your family is probably sacrificing a great deal so that you can go to seminary; therefore, be very considerate of their sacrifice.

I personally have only lived on the campus of one of the seminaries I attended. But it was a great experience. However, there is usually a high demand for living on campus and housing is frequently limited—if you are interested. As a result, you will need to contact the housing department at your seminary of choice and complete a form in order to be considered. And do not delay: Campus housing goes quickly. Upon being accepted to a particular seminary, the question of whether to consider campus housing or not should be on the top of your priority list.

Putting It All Together

Well, did we bust any myths? I thought so. There are many aspects that you need to consider when looking into seminary. In fact, there is one thing that you must always be telling yourself: The more accurate knowledge you have about seminary, the better off you are going to be. In all honesty, it is not my intention that just anybody goes to seminary. And it is not even my intention in this blog to try to encourage or discourage you or someone you know from going to seminary. My intention is to give you the best information possible so that you can base your decision on factual information. Seminary requires a great deal of time, money, and effort. Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. You will hopefully discern this by prayer, discussion with your community of faith, research, and conversation with friends and family who will have your best in mind.


Dr. Derek Cooper is assistant professor of world Christian history and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Biblical. He is the author of several books, including So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminary. His faculty page can be found here: http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/derek-cooper.

   

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