There are countless reasons to pursue a seminary degree, and while some, like nurturing your faith, may seem somewhat obvious, there are many benefits that most have never considered. By attending seminary, you stand to gain more than just a faith-based education; you have the opportunity to be part of a community that shares your passion for ministry and your desire to create new followers of Jesus Christ.
Develop Your Personal Faith
Chances are that if you’re considering pursuing a seminary education, you already have a strong sense of faith and you think of yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ. Attending seminary gives you the opportunity to explore your faith further, develop it further, and gain powerful insights into what you believe and how you can live God’s word on a daily basis.
Seminary students attend classes that allow for self-reflection and encourage deepening your commitment to your personal faith. Through the study of God’s word, you’ll further your understanding of Christianity and strengthen your beliefs. Your faith does not have to be perfect in order to attend seminary; faith is a journey, not a destination.
One of the most invaluable resources any ministry leader can have is a mentor or a group of mentors. Finding mentorship can be challenging, but by attending a seminary program, those relationships become far more natural and easier to develop. Seminary programs, such as those offered at United Theological Seminary, give you access to experienced ministers, theologists, and leaders.
Throughout your seminary education, you will have opportunities to organically connect with seasoned ministry leaders who are excited to support you throughout your education and in the journey that follows as you establish your own ministry.
Grow Your Ministry Skills
The time spent in a seminary program gives you the opportunity to develop your ministry abilities and an environment that fosters growth, and the skills you learn throughout your education will stay with you through a lifetime of ministry. You’ll work under the guidance of seasoned, skillful leaders who will help you hone your approaches to both your preaching and counseling in addition to various other key practices.
There is certainly no substitute for training and coaching that you’ll receive from educators with years of experience, and who are passionate about helping you become a skillful, competent, and successful minister in your own right.
Build an Academic Foundation
While seminary is certainly a place of prayer and of faith, it is also a place of academia. Theological education is the basis of all of United Theological Seminary’s programs, and while some programs are geared toward a more academic career and others towards community ministry, developing an academic foundation is an invaluable component of getting a seminary education.
Through academics, students will learn how to connect God’s teachings to practical, real-world skills so that they may be of greater service in their ministries, communities, and the world at large. Seminary programs are not dissimilar to traditional academic institutions in that students are required to attend classes (which may be in-person or online, depending on each student’s unique situation), complete assignments, collaborate with classmates, and participate in field education. Just like traditional college and graduate programs, students receive grades for their work and attend a commencement program once they have completed the requirements for their course of study.
The degrees students earn from seminary programs are accredited around the world, and highly regarded among external agencies. One of the greatest benefits of attending a seminary program is the ability to receive a genuine academic education that incorporates every aspect of your faith.
Nurture Your Unique Gifts
In addition to our unique calling, each of us has a set of individual gifts given to us by God that allow us to best be of service to God and to others. When you attend seminary, you learn how to locate and cultivate those one-of-a-kind gifts under the watchful eyes of teachers who can help you refine them throughout your education.
Each student is different, and no two seminary students will seek to sharpen their unique talents in the same way, which is why seminary is the perfect place to explore different areas of study. You’ll have the chance to discover and nurture those gifts that make you who you are in an open and supportive environment.
Diversify Your Perspective
Deepening your connection to God means opening your heart and your mind to those who are different from yourself. When you attend seminary, you’ll meet Christians from a wide assortment of backgrounds and denominations that are both similar to and different from your own.
You will have the opportunity to see the beauty in these differences and you will come together upon the common ground of your shared calling. Together, you will explore these unique perspectives as you sharpen and develop your own beliefs.
As a minister, it will be your responsibility to relate to those from all different backgrounds, and seminary gives you the chance to begin developing this skill set from the very beginning of your journey to ministry.
Cultivate Lifelong Relationships
One of the most integral aspects of a seminary program is the sense of community they foster. As you’d find in any other higher education environment, seminary programs facilitate communities of those who share similar interests, values, and beliefs.
Our peers are often our greatest resources as well as our most vital support systems, and the relationships students form throughout their seminary education are likely to last a lifetime. By surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, we find ourselves challenged, supported, and accepted as we strive to answer God’s calling.
Final Thoughts on Attending Seminary
Attending seminary should be a priority for all individuals striving to deepen their faith. With seminary comes the opportunity to be educated from professionals who have years of knowledge and insight within the world of theology. It’s a space where you feel seen and heard as an individual; it contributes greatly to helping you grow both spiritually and emotionally.
This can help to propel your spiritual journey in meaningful ways that go beyond any one church or denomination. Being surrounded by faith-filled peers and mentors in a dedicated learning environment can be empowering and life-changing.
If you’re feeling called, attending seminary could be the opportunity for divine guidance and formation that serves as the cornerstone to a lasting and meaningful vocational path.