While I loved my three years in seminary, I realize now there are some pretty important things I didn’t learn there. Or . . . I wasn’t paying attention when these things were taught.
In no particular order, here they are:
- The Framework Theory Of Genesis One. Reading the first chapter of the bible with an eye to its structure and its art, you realize that the realms are created in Days 1-3 of creation and then those realms are populated in Days 4-6. Once you read the Creation Story this way, you’ll never see it the same again. Not only did I not learn this in seminary, I didn’t learn it until I’d been in full-time ministry for 15 years . . . when my friend James-Michael Smith joined our team at Good Shepherd.
- The fact that the Babylonian Exile is in many ways the central event of the Old Testament. It’s described in 2 Samuel 24-25 and then lamented by prophets and poets throughout the rest of the Hebrew Scripture. In fact, much of the OT is put together to answer two questions: 1) How did we land in exile? and 2) How do we make sure it never happens again? Thanks to the original Disciple Bible Study for that one.
- How to design a modern praise and worship service. Of course, considering that my seminary years were 1987-1990, very few people had even heard of “contemporary” worship.
- That my primarily responsibility is not to please people. It is to lead a community. Seminary does an excellent job of training congregational chaplains; not such a good job of raising up genuine leaders.
- How to say “no” to good ideas for the sake of better ones with a sharper focus.
- How to do a performance evaluation.
- How to lead a capital campaign.
And those things I didn’t learn in seminary? I’m still trying to learn most of them.