Ethics: Seminarian Knows a Church Would Not Hire Him

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What would you do Wednesday!

A friend of yours is in seminary. In fact, he is in the senior class working towards a Master of Divinity (M.Div.). One Sunday afternoon you catch up with him over lunch.

The conversation turns toward ministry, seminary, etc. You ask him how long he has before finishing his M.Div. He explains it will probably take him about 1.5 years to finish given he works full-time and has a family.

Then, you ask about his future plans, “What are you going to do vocation-wise once you have your M.Div.?”

He answers explaining that he probably will not work for a church as he once desired. He thinks he has stirred up too much dissension on social media making it tough for him to get a ministry job in his denomination. Instead, he wants to finish seminary and use the schooling to better serve the local church. You wonder if it makes sense for him to complete his M.Div.

What would you do?

  • Say nothing.
  • Encourage him to finish since he is 3/4 or more done.
  • Encourage him to consider dropping out of seminary.
  • Encourage him to reconsider ministry work and to fix his reputation.
  • Or…

Here I blog…

Mark

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The above article was posted on February 4, 2015 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John Strickland February 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm

I would encourage him that he needs to seriously consider God’s calling on him. Even if he has damaged his reputation, God can redeem that and call him to ministry and enable him to work to restore himself. And I don’t understand “calling” to just be someone’s “inner sense of purpose” or something. I believe it needs to be affirmed by others around you, the church, etc. So he needs to seek counsel to affirm his calling. Either way, he needs to finish the degree. That’s just a practical step.

On a related note, I think our SBC seminaries need to do a better job at clarifying vocational aims for each degree program. As it stands, the MDiv is simply the first stepping stone for everyone, regardless if you’re pursuing church ministry, writing/scholarship, higher education, or whatever. Perhaps that should not be so.

2 Christopher Sanchez (@Chris__Sanchez) February 4, 2015 at 10:03 pm

The MDiv is a challenging pursuit and your friend is to be commended for coming this far. It would be a shame for him to get have come so far and not complete his program. I would strongly encourage him to press on and finish what he began. I agree with John that this friend’s call needs to be affirmed. The fact that he is enrolled in seminary leads me to believe this has already occurred but bears revisiting. Did God call this friend or did he seek ministry for his own ends (Heb. 5:4)?

I will assume the call to ministry is genuine and move on to the social media aspect you mention. First, it is easy to let comments made on social media get out of hand. Perhaps a joke went too far or constructive criticism crossed the line and became more. These are but two examples of how one’s social media activity can stir up dissension. Did this friend’s temper get the better of him (Pro. 15:18) or did his genuine passion for a particular topic drive him to say things he perhaps would say differently in hindsight?

The dissension will subside in time and can be overcome if he is no longer stirring it up. Relationships can be mended if he is willing to make the effort. Reconciliation and restoration is not only possible but is to be desired by all parties involved assuming they are Christians though I am under no illusion that this is an easy thing. He will probably need to make that effort if he is to serve in vocational ministry in his denomination.

Serving the local church is a good thing and the MDiv will certainly help with this. More people with this kind of training serving in local churches are better than fewer! Continuing on in secular employment and serving the local church as a member of the laity is an option and may actually be preferred.

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