A Guide for Staying Christian in Seminary

Once during a walk, as Jack Miller prayed for his friends, it became clear to him what he should want for them: that they get the gospel clear in their own hearts and minds, that they make it clear to others, and that they do it with one prevailing motive — the glory of Jesus (The Heart of a Servant Leader, 22).

Ten weeks ago, David Mathis and I began a series on growing in grace during theological education. As this final post wraps up the series, it's good to revisit, and make explicit, our underlying aim — which echoes the heart of Jack Miller. Our prayer is that the church's servants be bewildered by the gospel of grace and committed, above all else, to the glory of God.

With that as the aim, here's the rundown on the seven-part series, four short videos on the subject, several good articles by friends who we asked to chime in on this topic, and a brief list of further recommended resources.

How to Stay Christian in Seminary

  1. Introduction: Seminary: Life or Death?
  2. Know Your Value of Values
  3. Be Fascinated with Grace
  4. Love That Jesus Calls the Weak
  5. Study the Word for More Than Words
  6. Pray with Your Books Closed
  7. Be a Real Husband and Dad
  8. Keep Both Eyes Peeled for Jesus
  9. Conclusion: Be a Christian in Seminary

Update: This series has been developed and expanded into the short paperback How to Stay Christian in Seminary (Crossway, 2014).


Nathan Akin, Divorcing the Local Church

“Staying Christian” means persevering as a disciple who is being conformed into the image of Jesus. Akin explains this doesn't happen apart from the local chuch.

Bruce Ashford, Seven Reflections on the Dangers of Seminary

It is an amazing blessing to live and learn in seminary. And there are unique perils for which we should beware. Referring to a whole series on the subject, Ashford points us to seven posts that discuss the attendant dangers of seminary education.

Denny Burk, Don't Do Seminary Without the Church

Servants of God are servants of his church. Whether you're considering seminary or in seminary now, Burk explains the priority of the local church in theological training.

Nathan Finn, Five Ways to Stay Christian in Seminary

Of all the wonderful blessings that seminary can be, there are also things it is not. In this post, Finn offers five “do nots” about seminary.

Jim Hamilton, Use the Right Tool for the Right Job: Gospel Maturity for Seminary

When we exhaust seminary's design to make it something it's not, damage ensues. In this post, Hamilton explains that seminaries exist to teach the Bible. He counsels students to make the most of this season by devoting themselves to the original languages.

Michael Horton, How to Stay Christian in Seminary: Juggling Multiple Callings

Explaining that seminary is itself a calling, Horton counsels theology students to “bear in mind that lectures, papers, and exams (and, of course, grades) are not ends in themselves, but means to the end that every believer’s calling shares: to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Andy Naselli, Thank God for Gifted Professors and Students

Recognizing the array of giftedness among seminary students, Naselli refocuses us on the grace of God. He concludes by recommending five Warfield articles and an essay by D. A. Carson.

Dane Ortlund, Staying Christian in Seminary

Though he admits there's much to be said, Ortlund hones this post in on two simple points above all else: you are justified by another, and you are strong in weakness.

Ray Ortlund, Seminary Is for Deeper Humility

The privilege of seminary should “humble us to the dust,” Ortlund explains. And yet, if our hearts are not resting in the all-suffiency of Jesus, the seminary experience arouses the self-exaltation inherent to all men. Ortlund concludes by giving some practical help on cultivating humility during theological education.

Burk Parsons, 30 Things to Remember in Seminary

Satan is waging war on seminarians and their souls are at stake. By way of 30 reminders, Parsons prays that the Holy Spirit would grant theology students a mind for truth and a heart for God.

Matt Smethurst, Your 4 Priorities for Seminary

Currently in his final semester of seminary, Smethurst suggests four indispensable priorities during seminary: your church, your family, your soul, and your king. He concludes with four diagnostic questions worth asking over and over.

Trevin Wax, Four Things to Remember While in Seminary

You don't want to be that guy who leaves seminary wishing he had done it differently. Wax gives some helpful advice in four simple reminders: your youth, your heritage, your soul, and your mission.

How to Stay Christian in Seminary book

Seminary can be thrilling, with the potential to inspire and equip church leaders for a lifetime of faithful ministry. But it’s not without its risks. For many who have ignored the perils, seminary has been crippling.

How to Stay Christian in Seminary takes a refreshingly honest look at the seminarian’s often-neglected devotional life, offering real-world advice for students eager to survive seminary with a flourishing faith.