My friend Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has just published a new book, Succeeding at Seminary: 12 Keys to Getting the Most out of Your Theological Education (Moody Publishers). Those of you thinking about going to seminary, those of you who have just started seminary, and those of you who counsel those who are contemplating going to seminary or who are already seminarians, will all find this book useful. I certainly did.
I wrote the foreword, and here’s what I said:
If you have picked up this book to help think through your choice of seminary, or to think about whether to go to seminary or not, or to think through important aspects or factors in your ministry preparation, I believe that you will find Dr. Allen’s counsel both wise and timely.
Your sense of calling to ministry, and especially the church’s confirmation of your sincere desire to promote the glory of God in the Gospel of his Son, by evangelism and discipleship – these things are vital to your benefitting from formal theological education. Dr. Allen helpfully provides you some tools for self-reflection and assessment in this area.
He also explains what seminary is, and what it is for, and why it matters. That, too, is important for you to understand if you are to fully benefit from what this experience has to offer. And his questions for picking a place to study are very, very good.
Dr. Allen gives you a careful and fair presentation about the importance and advantages of in person theological education, as well as the pluses and minuses of online study. He reminds you of the crucial nexus of life and doctrine in your preparation, counsels you on growing in your stewardship of time, and attending to your home life, as well as being wise with your finances – all vital matters and areas for you to consider.
In fact, I don’t think there is a wasted word in this book. If you are considering seminary, you really do need to pray and think through all the issues that are raised here, and pay heed to all the wise and godly counsel that Dr. Allen offers.
True Confession: I like to read books about how prospective seminarians should think through their choices about, and make use of the opportunities afforded by, and be aware of the challenges involved in, formal theological education for ministry preparation. There are a number of reasons that I have this inclination. I’ll mention two. First, I have been involved in theological education for over half my life. And I am always trying to improve what I am providing our students, so reading these kinds of good books helps me think hard about what I am doing and how I can do it better. Second, I like to read books like this because I talk to prospective theological students all the time, and I want to give them sound and thorough counsel.
I especially like to read books on this topic by those who are experienced and faithful, and my friend Dr. Jason Allen is both of those things. I trust him, and love to learn from him. And this book has already helped me. I will be using what I have learned here to help prospective students make the best possible informed decisions for their ministry preparation. It will help you too. I’m sure of it.