Bible College vs. Seminary

Discussion in 'Seminaries, Colleges & Education' started by Reconciled, Apr 6, 2019.

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  1. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello, Puritan Board!
    Firstly, I am so thankful and have been so blessed by the discussions. Secondly, this is my first post, so I hope I'm doing it right.

    So, my question is: what is the difference between Bible college and seminary? Does one need to go to seminary if they have been to a good Bible college and had training in the local church?

    This is my background: I went to Moody Bible Institute- Spokane and was part of a wonderful pastoral internship at a church there for two years. That church introduced me to reformed theology and Christ-centered understanding of all the Scriptures. Now, because of my wife's and my Christ-centered wedding (which some of the leadership of a small, rural church was at), this church wants to hire me as a youth pastor.
    Lord willing, I'm going to do it, but my question is, do I need more formal training? Or can I place myself under the pastor and read books and study and the like without the formal training?

    Thank you for any consideration!
  2. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    Welcome! When did you graduate from Moody Spo-kompton? ;)

    If the church you attend doesn’t require seminary for that position, I’d say privately study and stay under close guidance from godly men in leadership.

    Seminary training is never a bad thing, but it isn’t always necessary for certain contexts. This typically is a difference between independent congressions and other models. Maybe approach the leadership with the question see what they’d have you do.
  3. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    Welcome to the PB!

    Your denominational context will be a big factor here. What church denomination/background are you part of?
  4. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    Haha I barely got out in time; I was the last full graduating class!

    That does sound good

    I'm reformed Baptist (so I like to think).
    But the church I would be going to is southern Baptist and seems pretty calvinistic.
  5. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh did you go there??

    I did grow up Pentecostal and quickly left that upon realizing that I wasn't, in fact, reading the Bible well.
  6. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m in Chicago right now. I graduate in December 2020. I’m an old man there compared to most of the other students.
  7. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    There is a very strong case to be made for seminary training and if you are called to long-term, full-time, Gospel ministry I think you should pursue seminary.

    That said, there may be some wisdom in serving under a good Pastor in a solid church for a season before moving away for further training. It's very tough to give good advice from a distance like this, so I think a few questions that are worth considering are:

    1) Has the Lord made clear (through both external and internal means) a sense of call to ministry?

    2) How well do you know the Pastor under whom you'd be serving? Is he a godly man of piety? Is he well read and studied theologically? Is he eager to disciple and train you, or is he so overwhelmed that he won't have the time or energy to invest in a young man?

    3) What does your wife think of you pursuing ministry? Does she see a call in your life?

    4) What kind of ministry opportunities/theological training have you had up to this point?
  8. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

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  9. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    1) He absolutely has.
    2) He is a Godly man, however he doesn't have much training. He is just an interim pastor for the time being. There is another man, my wife's great uncle, who is a Godly man and does have much training and over 60 years of ministry by God's grace.
    3) She does! She actually went to Moody with me.
    4) I just have Bible college at Moody, the 2 year pastoral internship, and now I work at a Gospel- Centered daycare where I am taking the 4th and 5th graders through the Gospel of John.

    I think I did it, thank you!
  10. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Off the cuff: You don't need a seminary degree to run the church's youth program. And running a youth program will give you and your church a much better feel for whether or not you are called to be a full pastor. So take the youth job now and do it for a couple of years. Then if you still think God is calling you to be a full pastor, go to seminary.
  11. TheInquirer

    TheInquirer Puritan Board Freshman

    Small world - Dr. Armstrong and Dr. Malone are a couple of good friends of mine. It was sad to see them leave when the campus shut down. Curious to know where you did your internship (I dont recognize your name so I am guessing it wasnt ours).

    A Chicago guy calling Spokane Spokompton??? We got nothin on your neck of the woods ;)

    If you are thinking of seminary at some point, there are a lot of free classroom lectures available online for you to compare. Masters level work at a Reformed Seminary is going to be quite a step up from undergrad.
  12. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    "Seems pretty Calvinistic" is a bit of a red flag. Shouldn't you pin down exactly what the church believes and practices before taking a position there? If the eldership have different convictions, how will they walk together? If you don't have your convictions nailed down, how will you lead others?
  13. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    That does sound like good advice!
    Thank you

    Yes I do miss them! Brilliant men who so humbly taught us, and I did my internship up at Indian Trail.

    I do need to look into that, it sounds great

    Sorry, I was not clear. The church believes the Scriptures to teach calvinism, but I wouldn't call them reformed.
    But, I do need to ask what kind of position will it be. Am I just a youth leader? Or am I a pastor whose primary responsibility is to be shepherding the youth?
  14. Johnathan Lee Allen

    Johnathan Lee Allen Puritan Board Freshman

    Danger lurks where you least expect it. ;)

    Actually, I’ve heard that nickname back when I called Portland, Oregon home.

    I have Dr. Armstrong for one of my church history classes! He’s fantastic. How do you know him?
  15. TheInquirer

    TheInquirer Puritan Board Freshman

    Through our church fellowship.

    Yeah, I was giving you a hard time, that one has been around for quite awhile.
  16. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I went to MBI-Spokane back in 2004, I haven't kept up with things there. What exactly happened to it? Why did it shut down? Is the missionary aviation school still in operation?

    While I lived there we all called it either Spokompton or Spokanistan :)
  17. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    Moody Chicago openly admitted that they didn't handle finances well when they had plenty of students.
    8 or 9 of the remaining professors stayed and started up another Bible college called Great Northern University.
    In some ways this will be great, because now the professors can do what they are passionate about and not have to ask moody Chicago for permission.

    The aviation school is still running!
  18. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Interesting. Looking at the new school's website it appears that the only faculty who is still there from when I attended was John McMath. He was fantastic! He often said he wanted to write a book on the feast motif or something of that sort in the Old Testament. I wonder if he ever got around to it.

    With regard to freedom from Moody Chicago, I distinctly remember the dean at the time speaking to us and saying that while we all had to sign a community life standards prohibiting alcohol, he had no problem with it and wasn't concerned if we imbibed responsibly in our own homes. He said that the clause was mostly to appease elderly donors in Chicago. They had sort of a "what happens in Spokane, stays in Spokane" policy. I thought it was funny at the time though signing your name even to a policy you disagree with ought to be taken more seriously. Regardless, at the time it seemed like some people chafed under Chicago's leadership.

    Anyways, I remember my time in Spokane fondly. My roommate and I huddled together in a house that we were too cheap to heat until we could see our breath in the living room. Friday evenings at Ella's Supper Club listening to jazz and watching movies projected on the building next door. And not necessarily thanks to the systematics faculty there, but it's where I first encountered Reformed theology thanks to the church history class and some fellow classmates.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  19. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    Allow me to make a half dozen observations.

    We all know, or know of, men who were outstanding preachers who only had Bible School training. That may not be ideal, but it is a fact.

    I have met outstanding Independent Fundamentalist Sovereign Grace Baptist pastors who had neither Bible College nor Seminary training. They read and apprenticed under a Godly pastor. Some of those pastors had not read much besides T.P. Simmons, Augustus Strong, John Calvin, John Gill, and Charles Spurgeon when they take their first pastorate.

    Seminary and Bible College does not have to be an either or situation.

    Assuming the parish you are working with is a Baptist Congregation that holds to the 1689 Baptist Confession, or something similar, learn the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Knowledge of this will serve you well in catechizing young people.

    Consider doing TNARS or MINTS or some other school while you are serving as a youth pastor. Have the parish you are serving pay the rather minimal expenses associated with such programs. Build it into your compensation package.

    If you have not already done so, while serving as a youth pastor dedicate an hour a day to learning Greek. If you have already learned Greek, read a passage of the New Testament, daily, in Greek, to keep your skills current.
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  20. Reconciled

    Reconciled Puritan Board Freshman

    I think he's writing a book on Isaiah.

    When I got there, they were very serious about it: because you signed the agreement, if you drank alcohol and were unrepentant about it, you would be kicked out.

    Thank you so much for these!
  21. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yeah, I heard that not too long after I left there was some administrative reorganization that brought everything much closer in line with Chicago. I think that a change in dean was part of that. It had been Moody for awhile, but it really was still Inland Empire School of the Bible with Moody stationary. It was very common for a significant minority of the students who were of age to get together on Friday evenings for a beer or some wine after class. Looking back I wouldn't commend the behavior (even though no one drank to excess), but it does put less mature young men in a difficult situation when an agreement you sign says one thing and the authorities who enforce the agreement say something else.
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