Preparation for Seminary
In contemplating the ministry or a seminary degree prospective students may be asking themselves how to best prepare academically for the rigors of a seminary education. The guidelines set forth below are offered with the aim of helping students to prepare for seminary.
Recommended College Courses
Students should aim to gain an education rich in the liberal arts, including courses in English grammar and composition, and also literature; the natural sciences; the social sciences; history; philosophy; and oral rhetoric or public speaking. Ideal majors include Philosophy, History, English, Classics, or one of the social sciences. Theology is an acceptable major but not recommended. Students serve themselves best by having completed Ancient and NT Greek prior to seminary study, but Mid-America offers these courses to students who have not yet attempted or completed this sequence of courses (see link to summer Greek). Students also do well to have taken at least two courses in each of the majors listed above (preferably courses above the 100-level). Students also help themselves if they have studied a modern foreign language prior to seminary (preferably two years at the college level), such as German, Dutch, French, or Spanish.
All Mid-America students are expected to read the Bible and to become familiar with its contents and the narrative of its story-line. Thus all incoming students are required to pass the English Bible Exam, which is first administered during the first year of the first semester of study. Students are encouraged to gain competency in their knowledge of Scripture by regularly reading and meditation on it and acquiring knowledge of the theme, order, and contents of each book of the Bible.
Prospective Student Recommended Reading List
The faculty of Mid-America has put together this list in order to help students to become familiar with essential and, in many respects, elementary sources for theological formation. The sources are recommended to be read prior to coming to seminary but this is not required. Highly motivated students, wishing to be prepare for seminary study, may wish to read the books prior coming to seminary. Obviously this list is quite selective and is not to be regarded as comprehensive. Many valuable books and resources are left unmentioned. Note: Students should especially pay attention to the books listed under Propaedeutic Resources. Another list of books is available, this list includes some of the many books students may read while attending Mid-America.
Mid-America offers courses in both Greek and Hebrew. Students are encouraged to take the needed courses, especially in Greek, prior to seminary. Incoming students who have made some progress in the biblical languages but have not completed the stated requirements may take a placement exam in one or both of the languages to determine where they should begin the sequence.
All students should cultivate a healthy bond of fellowship with fellow Christians in the life of the local church. Inasmuch as the means of grace—the preaching of the gospel and the sacraments—are administered to us in the life of the church, students, with all God’s people, grow in the knowledge of Christ and the gospel by being part of the communion of saints. Students are encouraged to nurture their spiritual life in the blessings and burdens experienced in the family of God.
Personal and Family Formation
In preparing for the gospel ministry or Christian service students need to cultivate now in their Christian walk what will also be needed later in fields of labor. Thus students need to look after their prayer life, study and meditation upon the Scriptures, as well as their Christian conduct toward family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Our conduct and nurture of ourselves and our families, or the way we life with and toward family members, ought to reflect a desire to grow in God’s grace and develop the mind of Christ. This in turn will shape our life and service in the church and our witness in the world.
Spiritual Formation in Seminary
Seminary study is academically rigorous. It can also be spiritually exhilarating. We are called to love the Lord not only with all our heart, soul, and strength, but also with our mind. Seminary study can be spiritually nurturing when it is pursued with a heart surrendered to the Lord, in humility and a desire to learn, and in gratitude to God that he gives us the opportunity to serve. The hard work of seminary is the student’s calling before the Lord. Thus while in seminary students need to continue to cultivate an intimate life of fellowship in the local church and to tend to their own hearts and spiritual struggles. Seminary study does not in itself secure spiritual formation; rather, like ministry itself our spiritual nurture needs to be sought after and cared for in the midst of such labor.
Equally important is financial preparation. While Mid-America does its best to make tuition affordable, the costs of seminary are still significant. Start saving money, living on less, and working on a budget. Start talking to family, friends, and your church about support. The earlier you talk to them, the sooner they can begin setting aside money to assist you.