“Start a Seminary” Um, ok.
My lunch with Dr Paul Negrut last week jumped up a rung from inspiring to frightening when, mid mouthful of pasta, he challenged me to start a seminary, and to do so soon. Ok, sure; and is there anything else I should do, like plant a church on Mars? The thing is: I already have “Start Seminary” on my ministerial bucket list, but this was the first time someone who had done it before confirmed it as a good idea.
The dream of launching a conservative, evangelical seminary in South Africa first took root in my soul in late 2000. After God had semi-miraculously provided for me to attend The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, during my first semester of Historical Theology class, I read “Reforming Fundamentalism” by George Marsden. The book chronicled the rise and fall of Fuller Seminary.
To some it was a boring history textbook. For me, it read like gripping saga of epic spiritual battles and dramatic twists of fate. I was captivated by the idea of establishing a bastion of truth, fused with a local church, that would churn out courageous, expository preachers to feed the church for generations after I was pushing up daisies and feeding worms.
I started a file in which I stashed articles and ideas about how to start a seminary. When candidating at the church where I now serve, I was elated to discover the elders here also envisioned a legacy of training men to preach.
Last year we took the first step into a fog of the unknown. We started a night-school program at our church, where people can enroll to take 4-6 week modular courses of lectures and homework on various theological topics. That step landed firmly when our first four classes have enrolled over 50 students each time. (It could also be the donuts and freshly brewed coffee that is the real drawcard.)
The question is, What’s the next step? There is no manual on this. “Seminary-starting for Dummies” would have a pretty niche target readership, so publishers haven’t pounced on that title yet. So you can imagine my giddiness at being invited to a mono-a-mono with a real, live seminary president.
I grilled him remorselessly with questions, and without any regard to his food getting cold. His wisdom was as goldmine. Over the next few days I’ll share some of this with you. Tune in tomorrow for 4 reasons to start a seminary.