Back to School

Wesley SeminaryEver since I embraced God’s call to enter into the ministry, I have wanted to attend seminary (i.e., graduate school for pastors). When I went off to Bible college, my intent was to finish college and proceed straight through seminary before entering the ministry, but the simple fact of the matter is that college is expensive! So rather than going deeper into debt, we moved to Des Moines, and the dream of seminary was filed for a later date.

Well, this is that later date. Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University offers a fantastic Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program which is almost entirely online and custom tailored for people already working in a church. Add to that some incredible discounts for Wesleyan pastors, and it is an opportunity too good to pass.

So what does this mean for our church? Well, let’s shoot the elephant right away: I will still be the pastor. Nicole and I have no plans of leaving DHWC now or when this program is complete. As I said, the program in which I am enrolled is primarily online. Therefore, the bulk of my studies will be done from Des Moines, with only one or two weeks per year when I will travel to Marion, Indiana, for on-site work. The first of these trips will be during the first week of August, when I officially begin my studies. I will spend two more weeks in Indiana in June 2017, and another two in July-August 2018. And I will finish the program with a final week in Indiana during June 2019.

Our church and I will gain access to a vast treasure trove of additional knowledge and resources. If I have learned anything in fourteen years of ministry, it’s that there is a great deal that I don’t know. The core courses that I will be taking will dramatically increase my knowledge of everything from church history to Scripture to preaching and more. The practical emphasis of Wesley Seminary’s program will mean that much of this stuff is readily applicable in our context. And one of the most compelling things about this program is that it offers specializations or packages of elective courses specifically tailored to meet needs in the church. One of these specializations is church revitalization. Undoubtedly, this will be useful for our congregation!

I am excited about these opportunities, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it will take us three years to get there. And during this time, there will likely be times when schooling makes me unavailable. For instance, as I mentioned above, there will be about two weeks per year that I will be out of town for classes. Additionally, I will need time during the rest of the year to study. This will necessitate a few changes in the way that I and our congregation have done things.

The most notable change will have to be delegation. I will need to lean much more on our board and other leaders to get things done. The reality is that our church is active on a lot of fronts, and I carry a significant portion of the burden. We will need others to pick up the mantle of ministry. So let me start with this invitation: if you see something that needs to be done, ask me if you can help in that area! And if I ask you to do something, please say yes!

A friend gave me some interesting perspective the other day. He said that I am not going to seminary alone: our entire congregation is headed to seminary. Our entire church will reap the benefits of me attending seminary, but the flip side of that is that we must work together – and be patient together – during the planting and cultivating season so that there are benefits to reap.



1 Response to “Back to School”

  1. 1 Rowland Arthur Benedict June 8, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Jeremy, they did not have these possibilities back when I began ministry or I would definitely have taken advantage. My hopes were almost exactly the same as yours and I salute you on this great opportunity. We will be praying for God’s great blessing to fall on you and DHWC.

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