Seminaries and Spiritual Formation: Restatement

Sean Lucas
I'm so grateful for my friend Carl's reply. It appears, perhaps, that I was a bit too subtle in the single point that I was trying to contribute, so I thought that I might take another run at it more directly.

If a seminary's purpose is to train ministers and those who serve beside them, then I believe that they cannot forgo spiritual formation, believing that local congregations will cover that base.  Rather, seminaries should concern themselves with spiritual formation as a primary focus because such piety is part of the necessary equipping of ministers. Such spiritual formation should be intentional and pervade the curricular and co-curricular design of the seminary's ministerial training program.

How that is accomplished will be different from school to school. Some schools might have a faculty member dedicated to spirituality or spiritual formation; other schools will embed certain discipleship venues in the curricular design; some will focus on co-curricular aspects, such as chapel, as offering opportunities for developing piety; still others will ensure that courses are designed to inculcate certain practices of "walking with God." I simply spoke about Covenant Seminary because that is what I know, in the same way that Carl spoke of WTS because that is what he knows. What's important is that seminaries that have as a part of their purpose the training of ministers and those who serve beside them intentionally focus on spiritual formation--because ministers need such piety in order to sustain a lifetime of ministry effectively.

I hope that clarifies what I was trying to say. There is a great deal more that I could say--because this point is why I believe in and am involved with seminary education for preparing ministers. The ideal of a college of pastors training and shaping future pastors and those who serve beside them is still a worthwhile ideal. But it is only worthwhile if we do not recuse "the lion's share" of spiritual formation to the local congregation, but see such piety development as a key part of the seminary's purpose and reason for existence.