5 Myths about Christian Education.docx

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    5 Myths about Christian Education

    A few common misconceptions about Bible school and seminary.

    Christian schools, bible colleges and seminaries seem to get a bad rap from Christiansand non-Christians alike.

    To some, theyre closed-minded institutions where youre dogmatically transformed bythe removal of your mind. For others, its unnecessaryknowledge puffs up; boycottChristian learning in Jesus name.

    This means that those who attended a Christian school can look forward to a degree inbeing misunderstood with a major in feeling undervalued.

    Ive asked my colleagues to tell me how people react when they tell them theyre

    seminary students and distilled their responses into five common myths that I think weshould ditch if we want to see Christian education for what it could be, and often is: atransformative intellectual and spiritual journey.

    1. If You Go to Bible College, Youre Not Getting a Real Education.

    Privileged kids who go off to university can be notoriously elite about the whole thing.Its like we think were smart by association. Were still slightly embarrassed at thethought of attending community collegewhich is so, you know, practical. But then wecomplain when our bachelor of arts degree doesnt lead into our dream job.

    Seminary studies are often like that too: they may not land you the job within six weeksby themselves, but theyll enrich you undeniably. For me, this has meant rich dialoguewith people from different denominational backgrounds (which, for some, sounds likethe lion lying down with the lamb), a completely renewed perspective on faith andpurpose, and character formation (something we often complain is missing from thepublic education system).

    2. Everyone Who Goes to Bible College Wants to Go Into Ministry.

    False. Aside from those who want to be missionaries, counselors, professors,organizational leaders, spiritual directors, and entrepreneurs (to name a few), many ofus havent the foggiest clue what were here forbesides the love of learning.

    One such guy, opting for Bible college to help him sort out his theological baggage,ended up pastoring the largest church in Canada. Another guy discovered his passionfor food and went on to start a popular restaurant chain called The Burgers Priest. Sodont assume were idiots for not planning to be pastors, because you never know.

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    3. Theology Doesnt Speak to Real-World Issues.

    You want to be a theology professor? Get a life, bellowed my theology professor to ourstunned class one afternoon. In a 40-year pastoral career, our theology prof. has buriedmore corpses than the number of years hes ministered. Childrens funerals are his least

    favorite.

    Clearly, our professor has spent his career dealing with all kinds of people at their rock-bottom lowestwhen theyve had a breakdown, got divorced, lost their job or a baby ortheir mental health. And this man is crazy enough to tell us that his theology kept himgoing through the impossible times, enabling him to love even the most difficult people.Now Im convincedthat if our thinking about God and other seminary stuff doesntdirectly influence how we live, either we never truly learned it to begin with, or itprobably should be scrapped.

    4. Bible College is for Priests and Nuns (and Other Super-Christians).

    This is perhaps the most flattering myth of all. People assume that were going toChristian school because were spiritual giants who want to marry Jesus. I can onlyassume they subconsciously hated Sunday school, since they freely associate a love oftheological reflection with asceticism.

    Aside from the fact that most of my favorite professors are married, everybodyeventually clues into the reality of human brokennesseven in seminary. Were taughtby individuals who suffered serious career setbacks, got divorced, survived cancer,church hop, live with ADHD or wrestle constantly with God questions. And my

    classmates wrestle too, trying to juggle their studies with tough life stuff. Maybe the onlydifference between us and average church people is that we talk about it together.

    5. Christian Schools are Just Happy, Sterile Christian Bubbles.

    I cant easily dispel this myth, since I cant argue with the experiences of some of myfriends. I recall a prominent Christian leader in the business world confess, I dont likechurch people. I love Christians, but have you ever noticed how weird we get when wecome together in a church?

    Many people worry that seminary is just another church ghetto, isolated from the rest of

    the world. While that might be the case for some people for a season of time, I dontthink its the norm. While seminary classes have attracted non-Christian students, it canalso be a great resource for missional opportunities. And, of course, you will carry thelearning and personal formation with you wherever you go for the rest of your life.