As of this summer, I’ve crossed the half-way point in my seminary education (4 semesters down, 3 to go)! So naturally, I was intrigued when I saw the title of a little book called, 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me.
Though the title might make you think otherwise, this is not an anti-seminary book. Edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson, this book is a compilation of 15 short essays/reflections written by 15 different pastors (each of whom goes out of their way to emphasize their gratitude for all they learned in seminary). The focus of the book is not on the shortcomings of any institution but on the lessons that one can only learned by time and experience.
The writers come from a range of backgrounds and write on a range of issues. The bulk of the essays focus on what we might call “wisdom issues.” What do you do when your church is dying (ch. 2)? When do I accept a call to a new church (ch. 9)? How do I shepherd my church through seasons of suffering (ch. 8)? I found each contribution to be thoughtful and helpful – though as with any book involving so many authors some selections were better than others. My impression was that the bulk of the contributors held to a Baptist/congregationalist polity – a fact which make some of their specific counsel less applicable to Presbyterians such as myself.
Nevertheless, this is a very helpful book. It would be an ideal book for a young seminary student or minster to work through with an older minister. Hopefully the careful and mature reflections of these pastors will mean that young men like myself won’t have to learn the same lessons “the hard way.”