The Future of Evangelical Seminaries

Very interesting article at CT on What is the Biggest Change that Evangelical Seminaries Need to Make Right Now? with contributions from Dan Kimball, Cheryl Sanders, and Winfield Bevins. I liked these thoughts:

Dan Kimball on the need for more pathos:

If seminary professors could teach preaching and other skills more passionately, seminary students would more completely develop a passion for evangelism. The global church would also stand to benefit greatly. This kind of seminary graduate as a career pastor might help every faithful Christian have a heart that is broken for a neighbor or friend who doesn’t know Jesus yet. I am not at all suggesting that we lower the academic level of teaching or ignore scholarship. Keep that at a high level. But all seminary instruction is best viewed in light of and evaluated by how it fuels the hearts and minds of students to serve as missionaries in their world.

Winfield Bevins on seminary and church planting:

Imagine what it would look like if seminary students with institutional support were required to go out together and plant churches in the most unreached parts of our nation. What if they were coached, mentored, and given a vision to make disciples, reach lost people, and plant churches? Maybe then our seminaries would produce more church planters to reach the radically unchurched of our nation for Christ.

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  • Craig

    But all seminary instruction is best viewed in light of and evaluated by how it fuels the hearts and minds of students to serve as missionaries in their world.”

    If your primary ambition is to understand and teach Christianity in a way that will sell it among the masses, I doubt you’ll be doing good scholarship. Do we want our seminaries to be institutes for mass marketing and pop culture research?

  • Raymond

    While I understand the emphasis in the CT article on what would be termed the “practica” of ministry, I still think it is misguided. As a pastor most seminary students I meet do not have the theological underpinnings needed for long-term ministry. They often lack passion for learning, either Scripture or theology, and are filled with ideas for “ministry” that are derived from marketing strategies rather than. e.g. Pauline methodologies for mission. What they are reading is anecdotal studies on “casting vision, developing stratigies to reach whoever (fill in the blank) and “cool” presentations and image. The passion is misdirected. It also reminded me of the North American Bible college mentality that discredited rigorous study and focused on “winning souls,” “practical Christianity,” and “church growth.” What is most disappointing about the CT article is the selection of people to determine what seminaries need. I would want to hear from others who have a greater understanding of the need for a strong academic foundation for ministry.

    • Raymond: I am glad you wrote this review so that I didn’t have to. My thoughts are exactly yours.