Skip to main content

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel

And it may not even be an oncoming train!

Those of you who know me know that I have been pursuing a graduate degree for the last several years.

The last 12 years, to be precise.

You see, being a Baptist minister is an interesting career field. First of all, it’s supposed to be a calling more than a career, but all ministers say that. Then many of us go to work and get paid for it. That’s part of the interesting aspect: few people blend all the stuff of life into one all-encompassing life quite the same way ministers do. We go to church at work and go to work at church; we entangle religion and employment, business and pleasure, faith and finance all in ways that are beautiful when it works. And a fat mess when it doesn’t.

Many religious groups require a minister to hold a basic level of education before they enter the ministry. Then, there is a higher level of mandatory training before one is “ordained,” usually a gateway process to being placed in responsibility for a church.

Baptists, though, have no formal requirements of this nature. True, there are some churches that have educational requirements, and many of our denominational boards have requirements. But the local church can call as pastor anyone they choose. (Save the spiritual Jesus Juke: yes, it should be whomever the Lord calls.)

So, I became a pastor with a college degree and no seminary training. Seminary is the basic professional school for ministry: lawyers have law school, doctors have med school, clowns have clown school. Ministers have seminary. The idea is that seminary is a graduate-level education, entered into by someone with a bachelor’s degree.

In seminary, you do in-depth academic study of the Bible. You study Christian History; Theology; Missions. You take courses in practical matters like church administration and sermon preparation. It’s a useful thing.

It’s just not mandatory.

So, while I started in ministry with a college degree that included Biblical studies, I needed the official education. In time, I came to be ordained, again without the education. I am the full-time pastor of a church, and have been for several years now.

Along the way, I have studied some, and taken some classes. The typical seminary degree should be completed in 3 to 4 years. I started in 2002.

Next week, I should finish my last final. My last paper gets turned in—tomorrow.

I have wanted to quit, and still kind of do. I’ll open up more of that later.

For now, I am coming up for air and realizing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it may not be a train after all. I may get through this. When I do, I’ll hopefully have a lot more brain power for other things.

Which means a better effort on writing both here and elsewhere, and hopefully being better at what I do when I don’t touch a keyboard. Thanks for sticking it ought through this far. It’s been a bumpy ride.


  1. Nice! Although don't clown school and seminary share certain, um, nuances?

  2. I would suggest the connection is nebulous.


Post a Comment

To deal with SPAM comments, all comments are moderated. I'm typically willing to post contrary views...but I also only check the list once a day, so if you posted within the last 24 hours, I may not be to it yet.

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.

First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…