Preparing For Seminary
August 25, 2023
“What should I be doing to get ready for seminary?” This question has probably crossed your mind, and it’s an important one to consider in order to adequately prepare for the challenges ahead. In this article, we'll provide you with a few tips which will help reduce the stress of the unknown.
Spend Time With God
This might feel like an obvious suggestion. Indeed, everyone should be spending time in prayer and in God’s Word. But developing this spiritual discipline is even more important if you are planning on attending seminary. Your time in seminary will consist of years of intense Bible study, so developing general biblical literacy in advance of your classes will aid your studies greatly. Become familiar with the whole Bible and the way that the story of redemption progresses from Genesis to Revelation.
Prayer goes hand in hand with studying Scripture. As you read, ask the Lord to continue to grow your love for His Word. Seminary is not just gaining theological knowledge, or undergoing an intense period of absorbing information. Seminary is meant to grow your relationship with the Lord as well. In fact, at Westminster, we believe that true knowledge of God is necessarily going to have an effect on your worship in all aspects of life. You cannot truly know God and not worship him. So as you dive into the Word, take some time to pause and pray through what you are reading. Ask the Lord, by the Spirit, to apply the words of the Scriptures to your heart in a way that conforms you into the image of Christ.
Seminary will be a very busy time in your life, so being in the habit of reading Scripture and praying will be a lifeline for when you are in the thick of a semester and looking for time in your schedule to devote to the Lord.
Get Clear on Your Reasons for Attending
This might seem like taking a step backwards since you have already decided to attend seminary. However, it’s a good idea to understand the reasons why you are attending seminary before you start your journey in earnest. The main reason for this is because of the difficulty of the period you’re about to enter. If you are only enrolling to go through the motions and you aren’t really sure why you are here, the likelihood that you make it all the way through the program drops significantly. You will need a clear motivation to draw from if you want to endure.
So ask yourself, “Why am I going to seminary?” Is it so that you can be trained for ministry? Are you planning on pursuing post-graduate education? Do you desire to be equipped as a teacher? Take the time before beginning classes to clarify your answers to these questions. Prayer and reflection on the presence of an internal calling you may have received are vital to discerning your intentions.
Talking with your mentors, whether a professor, spouse, friend, or parent, is also a great way to process. According to research done by Lifeway, 71% of pastors strongly agree that seminary has provided a lasting value to their ministry. So ask your pastor about his seminary experience and the ways that it informs and influences his ministry. Conversations like these may serve as strong guideposts for you as you prepare for your seminary journey ahead.
Dig Into Required Reading
This is hopefully starting to sound like a theme, but, when getting a head start on your reading for seminary you should start with the Bible. The Scriptures are the foundation of everything that we do at Westminster so familiarity with them will greatly help you as you complete your courses. Since seminary is a very difficult and busy time for students, getting a head start on the required reading is a great idea.
Beyond this, we have an article that suggests books to read before seminary, including some key works for each of the main disciplines in our curriculum. You can also connect with a customer service representative at the Westminster Bookstore for a personalized recommendation, as many of their staff are graduates of seminary themselves.
Get Active in Your Local Church
Indispensable to your preparation for seminary is participation in the local church. The Lord has told us in his Word to not forsake fellowshipping together, so it ought to be a priority for you to connect with your local congregation. Oftentimes, the most dangerous people are seminary students who are unmoored from the local church. All theology should be practiced in concert with the local church. There should be no such thing as a rogue theologian. So, as you are preparing for your theological studies, make sure that you are regularly sitting under faithful preaching of the Word, taking the sacraments, and worshiping with a community of believers.
The local church will also be a great platform from which you will be able to implement what you are learning in seminary. The relationships you develop there will provide you with plenty of opportunities to take what you are learning in the classroom and immediately apply it in everyday life.
Prepare for Ministry at Westminster Theological Seminary
There is nothing that you can do that will make seminary easy. However, if you spend time in the Word and in prayer, discern your purpose for attending, get a head start on your reading, and foster relationships in your local church, you will be well poised for the transition and for enduring your studies.
If you have any questions about these tips or guidance that is more specific to your situation, our admissions counselors would love to help you.
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