Attending seminary is a serious personal and spiritual commitment. If you’re feeling called by God to earn a master’s or doctoral degree, it’s time to start considering your options. You also need to know some of the reasons that others have gone before you. Seminary is a chance to build skills you’ll need as a minister, deepen your relationship with the Lord and grow your Biblical knowledge. Here are five of the top reasons to consider enrolling in seminary classes.

Build Your Network

If you’re passionate about building your relationship with Jesus Christ and your scriptural knowledge, you might often feel lonely. Few Americans can devote themselves full-time to their faith. At some point in your religious journey, you may even face a crisis of faith – even the venerable Mother Theresa suffered this type of complication. Who can you turn to in a time of doubt? Seminary helps you build a fellowship of trained, supportive religious friends. You can turn to your fellow pastors for academic, spiritual or moral support during times of trouble. You may even find employment opportunities through them. Many seminary students praise their graduating cohort as their most important relationships after Jesus Christ.

Related resource: 50 Great Value Online Colleges for Religious Studies and Theology Degrees (Bachelor’s) 2016

Develop Counseling Skills

An important part of ministering is providing psychological support to your flock. Unfortunately, many Christians feel uncomfortable in traditional graduate programs in psychology or counseling. Seminary training provides Biblical education on caring for the mental needs of your parishioners. You’ll learn to combine evidence-based approaches with the time-honored traditions of the church, leading to an integrated framework for helping others. An academically motivated but religiously inspired seminary curriculum will make you a more successful counselor.

Enhance Your Teaching Ability

A Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) is designed for students who want to work within a church framework. This program prepares you to be a Biblical teacher, scholar and minister. You’ll learn to lead funerals, counsel parishioners, deliver sermons and lead others to a greater understanding of their faith. An M.Div program gives you a strong understanding of Biblical scholarship, helping you build a solid foundation for your faith. If you crave a true understanding of God’s Word and feel a calling to lead others on their journey, the M. Div program is for you.

Learn Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic

No translation is ever perfect. Even with God’s blessing, English-language versions of the Bible fail to completely capture the Father’s intent. You can only truly understand God’s beautiful message of love and redemption by studying the languages in which it was originally written. Attending seminary gives you the chance to start your journey towards learning the original languages of the Bible. You’ll develop a basic understanding of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, allowing you to continue your studies privately and grow as a teacher of Jesus’ love.

Grow Your Personal Faith

If you’re thinking of going to seminary, you already have some level of commitment to your relationship with Jesus. Are you where you want to be? Do you want dedicated time to enhance your spirituality? Seminary can provide that. You’ll be devoting a portion of your life to studying God’s Word, reflecting on his calling for you and furthering your Christianity. Your classes will include opportunities for self-reflection and a deepened commitment alongside your academic approach.

You don’t have to be a perfect Christian or a future pastor to be admitted to seminary. If you’re ready to commit to a spiritual life and pursue an academically rigorous course of study, attending seminary may be the right choice for you.

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