With all the benefits of theological education, a danger exists if ministry training is subtly divorced from the church. If the acquisition of knowledge becomes the chief goal and not the edification of the church, a student’s heart has drifted. Serving at a church while also attending seminary provided me with a constant reminder that I was not just learning to study and to teach the Bible but I was learning to teach it to people—real people with struggles, doubts, questions, and pain. Serving in a church during seminary helped me to avoid the ivory tower syndrome where folks only study for the sake of study, where the end result is a euphoric state of just knowing more.
Eric brings up a great point. Ministry is messy. People are messy. Life gets complicated. We spend seminary classes learning to preach and teach, but are we prepared to help a single mom with 3 kids apply the sermon we just preached?