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What is an Evangelical Seminary?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 May 2018
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An evangelical seminary is an educational institution which prepares people to enter an evangelical ministry. Evangelical Christianity is a movement with hundreds of years of history, and it is quite diverse. Members of the evangelical ministry can be found working all over the world with a broad spectrum of congregants, teaching and upholding the key values of evangelical Christianity. Some seminaries focus on evangelism within a specific Christian sect, while others may offer a broader education.

Like other seminaries, an evangelical seminary gets students ready for ordination so that they can serve as religious officiants. Religious education includes a grounding in the history of Christianity, exhaustive study of the scripture, and discussions about the duties of members of the ministry. Students learn about a wide variety of topics, from handling requests for advice and assistance to formulating sermons. Education is offered from an evangelical perspective, with the precepts of evangelical belief underlying all coursework.

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Some seminaries offer a distance education option, in which students complete studies at their own pace in a variety of locations. One advantage to distance learning which some students like is that it allows them to engage in activities like volunteering with the ministry while they prepare for ordination. However, distance learning can also deprive students of the opportunity to interact intellectually with other people who are preparing for ordination; for some students, a major part of attending an evangelical seminary is the opportunity for class discussions and the chance to form relationships with other people interested in the ministry.

Not all seminaries are created equal, and students should take care when deciding where they want to go. Most seminaries provide their doctrinal statement to prospective students so that the students can determine whether or not a particular evangelical seminary will be a good fit for them, and students are usually allowed to visit while they are in the process of applying and deciding on which seminary they would like to attend. It is advisable to attend an accredited seminary, and it may help to ask favorite ministers where they received their education.

It is important to distinguish between an evangelical seminary and an evangelical college. Seminaries prepare people to serve in the ministry. Colleges provide people with an education which can be utilized in a variety of careers. At an evangelical college, students can certainly study Christianity and may major in religious studies, but they can also study an assortment of other topics. At an evangelical college, the college is run along evangelical principles and students are expected to attend church, play an active role in the community, and embody the principles of evangelical Christianity.

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