3 Positives and Negatives of Attending a Preaching School
Some thoughts from my experience as a student in a preaching school.
This will be a little different than what I usually do in these articles, but it’s something on my mind.
I especially hope this is helpful to anyone considering attending a preaching school.
I attended the Memphis School of Preaching from August 2016 until I graduated in June 2018. I enjoyed my time there, and I am grateful to God that I had the opportunity to attend.
My goal is to present a balanced, thoughtful view of preaching schools in general for those who might want to attend. Sometimes all people do is complain about their time in school - while others present it as Utopia. Neither is helpful, so I hope this is a helpful, balanced approach.
The Positives of Attending a Preaching School
There are many positives to attending a preaching school. Here are the top three things that stood out the most to me from when I was a student.
An intense Bible study program.
Most preaching schools have a two-year Bible study program. You will take the equivalent of a four-year college degree course load during those two years. It’s intense. It’s hard work. But it’s also extremely rewarding.
During my two years, I learned many things I didn’t know, grew in my ability to reason from the Scriptures, and the foundation was laid for a lifetime of Bible study. Even if you decide not to preach full-time, the Bible study habits developed in school will help you for the rest of your life.
Learn from experienced gospel preachers.
The instructors at a preaching school have many years of experience as gospel preachers. Many of them have been studying the Bible for decades and have preached through many changes and challenges.
Your instructors will make mistakes sometimes - and sometimes they might even be wrong. But that doesn’t mean their experience is worthless. That makes it even more valuable because I also make mistakes and sometimes will be wrong.
It is wise to listen to older, wiser, and more experienced gospel preachers. Solomon wrote, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days” (Proverbs 19:20). You may not always choose to follow their advice, but it is wise to listen to what they have to say.
Develop life-long friendships with classmates.
I still talk with several of the guys I graduated with from MSOP. Usually, we talk at least once or twice a month. Our wives also remain good friends. Our class was on the smaller side - but I viewed that as a positive because I could get to know everyone in my class.
You will develop life-long friendships with the people you attend preaching school with. Your kids will play together, and your families will spend time together. In fact, the most challenging part about leaving preaching school when you graduate is saying goodbye to all the friends you’ve spent the last two years with.
The Negatives of Attending a Preaching School
I don’t believe there are many negatives to attending a preaching school. However, there are a few things to be aware of as you consider going to a preaching school.
Personal pride can become a huge problem.
I believe pride is one of the greatest temptations any preacher faces. If you aren’t careful, your goals in preaching shift from focusing on God and His word to elevating yourself and your own abilities.
This struggle isn’t so much of the school’s fault as it is a personal struggle for each preacher. Spend time often contemplating Paul’s words about some who “preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:15-17).
If your goal is to preach Christ out of love, a preaching school can help you do that. If you intend to preach Christ out of selfish ambition, you can probably hide your intentions well enough and use a preaching school to help you feed your pride. You must consider your own heart.
Tradition and opinion can be overemphasized.
Sometimes those who teach in a preaching school will have a very strong opinion on something from Scripture. In my experience, the teachers often made it clear that “this is my opinion.”
There is nothing wrong with having an opinion on a matter of judgment or tradition. We all have opinions, and the church should be able to get along peacefully while holding various opinions (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8).
Sometimes, a tradition or opinion can be emphasized to the point where students are led to think, “This is the only right conclusion” or “this is the only conclusion a good student of the Bible will arrive at.”
As a student of God’s word, be careful not to bind your opinions on others. Be careful not to paint other brethren in a poor light who have reached a different conclusion on a matter of judgment.
The school’s best interests sometimes conflict with the church’s best interests.
This doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes it does happen.
For example, suppose there is a preaching student who is getting ready to graduate. He has been problematic at times and sometimes has had a poor attitude. Brethren have supported him throughout school, and they look forward to him graduating.
The preaching school is now in a difficult position. They have seen students who have had their share of struggles in school graduate and do well. They have also seen students who had struggles go out and cause problems.
While the congregation would like to know if the student has been a problem, the school would like to see if the student can get into a work and do well. This can create a conflict of interest between the church and the preaching schools.
Once again, I don’t believe this happens very often - but it does happen occasionally.
I truly enjoyed my time in a preaching school, and it was a great benefit to my family and me.
I believe the positives far outweigh any negatives that come along with a preaching school. Much will depend upon the individual student’s mindset, attitude, and worth ethic.
If you are interested in a preaching school, here is the link to the school I graduated from. There are many other good schools as well.
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