A lot of people wonder, “What’s the big deal about Seminary?” And others wonder “What makes Moody so great?” For those considering either seminary and/or more specifically Moody Theological Seminary, let me attempt to answer those questions. No, Moody has not paid me to do this and they have no idea I even am doing this. At the moment, besides the fact that I’m an alumnus, I have no other connection with them.
First of all, for my personal story related to this. I grew up going to public school and was told I could attend any public college in my state. So I did. I had Christian and non-Christian friends from high school who went to Christian colleges. They did not seem like their faith changed much based on their school choice. I went off to a large, 20,000+ university where I became involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, aka: CRU—which I highly recommend for Christians with such an organization on their campuses. I studied business in my undergrad and thought I had a very neat Christian experience growing in my faith at college. I was told as I graduated that I was more trained through Cru for discipleship and evangelism than many pastors out there. I believe that’s possibly true. I knew how to share Christ with virtually anyone and did. Since I knew how Cru did discipleship, I tried meeting up with some people I worked with after college to share Christ with them and help them grow their faith.
Yet one thing I lacked. Roots. This is not the fault of Cru, but it is the amazing benefit of seminary. I grew leaps and bounds in my faith through being a part of Cru. But Cru can only do so much in and through a person’s life when they only have them for four years and their lives are busy studying to graduate as well. Within that first year after leaving college, I found myself falling into sin in ways I would never have dreamed of when I was deeply involved in Cru. I had been disconnected from my Cru family, a church family, and didn’t know how exactly to stop from where I was headed. Obviously God did, and as I cried out to Him in repentance, He enabled me to get my life back on track.
I did not want to go to seminary. I did not really see the need. Even though I had not grown up with much of the Bible (besides what I learned in Sunday school), I really thought I knew a lot since I had been through Cru. Yet at that time I wanted to start a Christian organization. After trying to start my organization and that along with many other things not working out, I applied to Moody’s Theological Seminary, as sort of a last resort. I figured if I wanted to start a Christian organization, maybe I needed a Christian education, because I had the non-profit and business background already.
I wrongly had heard somewhere that D.L. Moody was a businessman. Since I had heard on Moody radio about their graduate school (at that time it was called grad school, not seminary), I decided this was the one Christian school I could consider, because it’s founder was a businessman. “He must think like me,” I thought! After floundering through the application, I finally sent it in. Within about a week I received a call that said, “You’re accepted! Classes start in two weeks! We’ll see you then!” I praise God for that phone call, because going to Moody seriously changed my life. I have never been the same!
Since I can’t speak for every seminary, I will speak for what I know, and that’s Moody’s Theological Seminary. I can’t say enough good things about this place and the education one receives. No matter how much you think you know about ministry or your faith or the Bible, you will learn more. You will dig deeper roots with your faith that will not be nearly as easily broken.
The professors are amazing and willing to invest personally into their students’ lives. Not only that, but living in the apartments on campus means living with fellow seminary students. Three people share a one-bedroom apartment… unless you’re married. You open your door to take out your trash and see another seminary student doing the same thing. You go to the grocery with those you live with and see homeless people on the way. Living in the city and living with other Christians in such tight quarters adds a depth to learning I really can’t put into words. You constantly see faith in action, in dealing with homeless people on the street to showing grace to roommates from other cultures. Seeing how Christianity affects people from other parts of the world adds to your learning. I lived with people from five different countries during my time there. Those were just my roommates! Down the hall and throughout the school, people come from all over the world. You do not just learn how to be a Christian in America, you learn how to be a Christian, period, no matter where you live.
Moody’s Seminary isn’t so much about what we learn in each class so much as how we learn to learn for the rest of our lives! The professors teach you how to think, not what to believe. They simply say, “here are the Scriptures that speak to this issue. Study them for yourself and tell me what you conclude.” Of course we’re also taught proper techniques for analyzing and interpreting Scripture. Many of the professors open up their homes to students at different times. Many of the professors’ wives are also involved in ministering to the women on campus too. This adds an entirely different depth to one’s learning. We no longer just see our teachers as people giving us a grade in the classroom, but people living out their faith. Seeing my professors’ lives taught me as much as the actual stuff they taught us in class.
The content taught at seminary also has great value. I have learned theology, how to study the Bible in depth, how to preach, how to teach Scripture accurately, how to live, and how to grow in my faith, always. We learn so much at seminary that it really took me a few more years after seminary to continue to absorb all I learned in order to be able to put it into practice!
I have met up with fellow students from Moody’s seminary since graduating almost six years ago and I have to share a difference I have noticed. I have met many people who have gone to this or that seminary, but there’s a difference when it comes to those who graduated from Moody. There’s a humbleness among Moody grads that I do not see consistently elsewhere.* By that I mean a willingness to be used of the Lord wherever He has them, in work, in lay-ministry, or even in something like pastoral ministry. I also see a deep concern for other people. Lastly, I see deep convictions among other Moody grads that I do not see among other seminary grads as consistently. We were not taught to specifically have strong convictions, but we were “raised” by people with such strong convictions that we have inevitably become like them, by God’s grace. Leaders like Dr. Paul Nyquist lead Moody with strong convictions. Yet he also waves hi to students as he passes them in the hall. He’s not just a great preacher with strong convictions. He’s a jolly guy who loves the Lord and loves people. I agree with Dr. Nyquist when he says there’s something different about Moody students. It’s true, and it’s only by the grace of God.
So if you’re considering Seminary, consider Moody. It’ll change you in ways you never dreamed of—for God’s glory.
*Note: While I do consider myself willing to follow the Lord, I do not consider humbleness one of my strengths. Although, since attending Moody, I am more humble than I was before.