Though this may seem like a negative way to look at it, sometimes it just helps to be clear about what something is not, to then better understand what it is.
Seminary is not a place where all your questions are going to get answered or where you are going to be on a constant “mountain top” experience. Whatever else they may be seminaries amount to graduate level, academic work. For those in seminary there will be a lot of time spent writing papers, doing research, and trying to stay awake during less-than-exciting lectures.
Also, I don’t think that seminary is the right option for everyone wanting to serve God. God’s servants need to be equipped, but there are other ways to do this than getting a graduate degree. It is silly to make seminary a requirement for most ministry positions, (though some denominations do).
Not all seminaries will build your faith, or help you as a Christian. Within many seminaries are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”: professors who teach things that undermine rather than strengthen. Not all of this is intentional, but let’s face the facts. It happens. Seminary isn’t a place to turn off your discernment.
Even many of the best seminaries don’t seem to do a very good job at the practical element of ministry training. Though some require some kind of “internship”, there are a lot less expensive ways that you could get ministry experience.
Seminary isn’t cheap. In fact it can be very, very expensive.
Most seminary students seem to have knowledge which far exceeds their experience or their heart for people. This is a big problem, and one which has brought about wide-spread concern. Some seminary leaders have taken steps to try to correct this, but the problem is still very real. Seminary isn’t a great place to go to have your heart for people developed.
Similarly, seminary isn’t a great place to meet people with above-average people skills. Like most graduate school environments most people are focused on their research, tests and completing assigned readings. Some students who study on “brick and mortar” seminaries (contrasted with distance studies or “online campuses”) do develop great friendships with other students, but most seminary students are older and have families so don’t have a lot of time for extra socializing with other students.
[The next post will take a more positive turn to look at some of the Potential Benefits of Seminary Education.]