Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On being more than just a seminarian

From Jim Hamilton's interview with Thabiti Anyabwile (author of What Is a Healthy Church Member?) on being a healthy church member:

JMH: And lastly, how can seminary students be healthy church members?


TMA: Seminarians should think of themselves primarily as church members, not “seminarians.” I think a lot of men see themselves as ‘tweeners levitating somewhere between their previous church and the church or mission field they’re headed towards. They’re in a kind of suspended animation. And often a seminarian can suffer spiritually as they float out their in academic space somewhere. The church suffers too without their gifting and service.

It will be tempting to think of their studies as a special status that obviates their relationship to and responsibilities in the local church. But they are primarily Christians, and as such should be active in a local church body as members not seminarians. We don’t excuse other college students from the expectation that they should be active in a local fellowship; and we shouldn’t do it with seminarians either. So, they should join a local church and plant roots. They may be leaving in a few years but learning to love a church quickly will help them learn to love new members quickly when they’re pastors or when serving in highly transient areas.

And like seminary professors, students should be humble and patient, avoid judging others and asserting unimportant preferences. They should see the church as the main classroom of Christ, and the classroom as an auxiliary. Given that, they should seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And by God’s grace, they will as they humbly receive the word (Jam. 1:21), receive grace through the various administrations of God’s gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11), and are equipped for service until they reach maturity in Christ, the Head (Eph. 4:11-16).

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