The V3 Movement is pleased to host this guest blog from our Praxis 2023 Partner, Seminary Now. Thank you for your support!
I spent the first 20 years of my pastoral journey insisting I did not need bible college, seminary,
or any formal training in theology. As far as I was concerned, I went to the seminary of hard
knocks, where I worked out my ecclesiology, missiology, and all the other “-ologies” in real-time,
with real people and real consequences.
If I needed to learn something, I could grab my bible, buy a book, open Logos, or google it. It
might be the Gen X in me, but I was sure formal education was a waste of time.
Then, we planted an independent church.
Within the first year of our church planting journey, I realized my theology was an inch deep
and a mile wide. I was steeped in pop culture Christianity that flowed from the latest
conferences, books, and seminars. I don’t mean to throw shade on the newest things, but I
realized that I am untethered unless I engage what’s new on the ancient foundation of our
I knew just enough theology to nod my head but not enough to engage in critical conversations
with our small but growing congregation. After 20 years of resisting formal education, I started
a journey with Northern Seminary.
Here are a few things I have learned.
Seminary Humbles You
I will never forget clicking send on my first paper submission to, of all people, renowned New
Testament scholar Scot McKnight. To date, I had written hundreds of sermons and received
plenty of feedback. But for the first time, I put on paper what I believed and why I believed it
–and I invited someone else to grade it.
Submitting that first paper — and honestly, all the papers that followed — was the most
humbling thing I had done as a pastor. When Dr. McKnight sent my paper back with positive
notes, I felt affirmed by a global church elder; when he returned other papers with less than-
positive notes, I felt challenged to dig in deeper. Sitting under someone’s teaching is essential
for those of us who ask others to sit under our teaching.
Seminary Provides Structure
Formal education is built on a scope and sequence of learning and will help you develop your
systematic theology. This scope and sequence provide a focus for learning. Once you have a
basic structure, you can add other traditions and perspectives, but you need the structure before
you can chase other ideas. It’s natural for each of us to favor a particular area of theological study; seminary creates a journey where you investigate vital subjects you are not naturally drawn
Seminary Connects You to Other Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts
I grew up in the south, the suburbs, and the 80s somewhere between a bible church and the United
Methodist church. I can promise you my theological lens was VERY narrow. I held my limited
perspective with pride; I was confident what I knew was the only truth.
Theologians argue for their perspective, but they do so having researched other points of view.
Seminary provides you with a robust exploration of a variety of perspectives.
When I think back on my journey, I realize that, in the end, it was pride holding me back from
formal theological training. The Apostle Paul says that we are “Stewards of the mysteries of
God” (1 Cor. 4:1). We need more than just our perspective and more than just our immediate
community’s perspective. We need to submit ourselves to a diverse learning community that
will challenge even our most deeply held religious convictions.
Scott Austin is a pastor, coach, and the Sales Manager for Seminary Now. Scott serves as a
board member and consultant to several local organizations in the city of San Antonio, where he
lives with his wife Shannon (a pediatrician) and their two sons. In 2010, Scott and his closest
friends planted a church community in North Central San Antonio. Prior to co-founding The Park,
Scott served several churches (and denominations) as a youth, college, and family pastor. He
holds a BA in History from Texas State and a Masters in Theology & Mission from Northern
Seminary, where he is currently pursuing is Doctorate in Contextual Theology. If you are looking
to explore seminary, check out the for-credit courses available through Seminary Now that allow
you to one day pursue a seminary degree from an accredited institution.
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