This is the time of year when people are planning to head back to school or are seriously thinking about it in the near future. For those of us who are already established in a career field, we may consider educational opportunities that expand our knowledge, improve our skills, and challenge us to be better in our work. One of the best places I can think of to pursue all of those—no matter your career field—is seminary. True, seminary is often something people pursue when considering a call to ministry, but pursuing a theological degree can be a great benefit to anyone, regardless of their vocational setting. Whether in business, education, or the legal field, the Word of God speaks.
To be clear, most vocations will not require a seminary degree, nor do you need to leave another field like business to serve God in vocational ministry. However, if you are someone who has considered deeper theological study but is not interested in leaving your current field, you will find there are actually a lot of ways going back to school for a seminary degree can help you in your own work.
Why Would Seminary Benefit Me?
In many educational settings, the purpose of learning is to gain information and skill sets with the goal of obtaining a specific job. Seminary certainly does this for those interested in ministry, but a seminary education involves more than mere information acquisition. Seminary is designed to be a rigorous process where students experience spiritual transformation as they progress through their academic studies. The purpose for seminary is not only to learn more about Christ—it helps us become more like Him.
Seminary is good for business because it teaches us to be faithful to the calling the Lord has put in front of us. Exegetical courses require careful attention to the detail of the biblical text; students often develop familiarity with the original Hebrew or Greek, which can be of great benefit when engaging Bible passages that can cause confusion or conflict. In systematic theology courses, students are trained to interpret scripture with the goal of showing how scripture speaks to every area of our lives, including our vocational settings. In pastoral theology courses, students are taught the importance of faithful service to their congregations. Skills that are developed in seminary include public speaking, writing, and memorization—all of which are beneficial skills for the workplace.
Seminary: More Accessible Than Ever
Attending seminary is more in reach than ever before. In the past, you would have to relocate or drive long distances to attend seminary. For someone already working in their desired vocational setting, attending seminary would have been unreasonable because they would have to quit their job in order to go back to school. But online learning has changed that. Many of the leading seminaries now offer fully accredited degrees—including Master of Theology, Master of Divinity, and even some doctoral programs—online. You no longer must relocate or quit your job to attend seminary; you can join the many seminary students who work and study at the same time.
For those who may not desire a full seminary degree, several institutions and organizations offer nonaccredited theological classes for people interested in growing in their theological understanding. Many of these free classes are taught by respected faculty members from top-tier institutions, and these courses are excellent resources to aid in gaining a greater understanding of key theological topics. For example, the Gospel Coalition offers numerous courses on the major theological disciplines including church history, systematic theology, Biblical studies, and pastoral theology. Similarly, Hillsdale College offers courses on ancient Christianity, the life of David, the Genesis narrative, theology, and C. S. Lewis on Christianity. The Bible Project offers a number of free courses on specific books of the Bible, as well as overarching themes in the Bible. These courses are free and available to the public, and they are a great means for growing in your theological understanding while remaining in your current job.
Many segments of our culture have moved away from a belief in the authority of God’s Word, and many seminaries have sadly followed in this direction. However, there are numerous theological schools which still hold to a high view of Scripture and whose purpose is still to train men and women to faithfully serve the church and the world. If you are thinking about continuing your academic journey, consider a seminary education. Not only will it train you to serve in the local church, but it will be good for business.
As we follow Christ more faithfully through seminary studies, we will be compelled to serve others, work more faithfully, and love our neighbors well, and these are characteristics of employees in effective businesses.