Friday, November 11, 2005

John Orberg on Spiritual Formation during Seminary...

John Ortberg said the following in the November edition of MinistryMentor.

How should students think about spiritual formation during seminary?
I can remember when I was in school, people would come to chapel and say, “Here’s stuff that you need to think about when you get into the real world.” The reality is that seminary is the real world. There’s no place that you can go to escape the world.

When you’re in seminary, ask yourself introspective questions: How is my spirit being formed? What am I learning about myself in terms of the initiative that I take? How competitive am I? How often do I compare myself with other people? How honest am I when I write papers and take tests? How do I seek to follow God, and how do I resist God? All of those same patterns will be there when you’re working in a church, ministry organization, school, or wherever else you work.

How do you counsel seminarians to experience God’s presence while studying the nuts and bolts of ministry and theology?
The nice thing about seminary is that the discipline of study is woven into your schedule. One of the dangers is that it can become all head knowledge. Then a discipline of worship becomes very important.

While it’s important to worship in the context of church, it’s also beneficial to give pause while I’m studying, God must be great to have thought this up, or to have made this person to be bright enough to be able to write these words or to think these thoughts.

It’s important to build worship into the process of study.


Tim said...

Through my education at Dallas Theological Seminary we were all involved in Spiritual Formation groups for several years. The minimum requirement is two, but my group audited it and stayed together throughout our years there. That small-group accountability and weekly meeting is really want got most of us through to graduation. We were able to encourage each other, challenge each other, and help prepare our hearts and minds for service to the Lord.

Concerning your second question, I found it best to attend an evening church service at someplace other than where I served in ministry on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are so crazy and hectic that it's really hard to focus and worship. My mind was constantly thinking of who I needed to talk to, replying my lesson in my mind, where was Lisa (or whoever), etc. Attending a different church in the evening allowed me to relax, enjoy no responsibilities or expectations, I don't know anyone, they don't know me -- I can just sit and relax and focus on worshipping the Lord. That time-out from seminary and ministry is vital.

mrclm said...

Our Seminary (Bethel) is divided into three areas (centers). We have the Center for Transformational Leadership, the Center for Spiritual Formation, and the Center for Theological and Biblical Studies. Everything else falls into one of these three centers. Each Center has a Dean resposible for the oversight of all that falls into that category. I think it is a great system, and seems to be working well at Bethel Seminary. We have to take a handful of courses on Spiritual Formation, including a segment of small groups like you at DTS took. The have been tweeking this system though, so I know it is different than it was when I took these courses. Ortberg's book "The Life You Always Wanted" is a great place to start if anyone is looking to deepen themselves in the area of spiritual formation. I personally suggest avoiding Richard Foster.