Engaging the World, Engaging the Word

Seminary exists to prepare Christians for ministry.  Some seminaries tend to focus on the words “prepare” and “ministry”, and for good reason; if it doesn’t sufficiently equip students to engage the world with the gospel, why exist at all?  While those are of utmost importance to us at RTS Atlanta, we focus just as much on the word “Christians”, or our students.  Why?  Because a seminary can’t stand in a pulpit and faithfully communicate God’s Word.  A seminary can’t fly to Africa and teach Ugandans about Jesus Christ.  A seminary can’t share its faith with a coworker over lunch on a lazy Friday.  But our students can, and we exist to prepare our students to do exactly these things. 

In addition to how a seminary equips its students (“prepare”) and what it equips them to do (“ministry”), we think the students themselves should be a focus of yours when considering where to enroll.  Your seminary experience will be defined by not only the knowledge you glean in the classroom, but also the relationships you build with your peers.  Your fellow students are the individuals you spend the most time with on campus; whether it’s a quick conversation during a coffee break, eating dinner together before your evening class, studying together for an upcoming exam, or worshipping together on a Sunday morning, those whom you learn alongside will influence you.  One important consideration when choosing a seminary is the student body; who will you learn alongside?  Will you be edified through those relationships?  What led them to pursue a seminary education and, in particular, this seminary?

Our students are everyday Christians who want to better understand God’s Word and become equipped to accurately share it with others while continuing their everyday lives.  Many seminaries boast about what their students do after graduation; we like to tell others what our students are doing while pursuing their degree.  They are tutoring underprivileged youth, leading ministries in the city, planting churches, managing corporations, writing children’s books, interning at churches, policing our streets and neighborhoods, administering justice in a court of law, leading campus ministries, parenting their children, shepherding youth ministries, teaching elementary school, writing music and leading worship, sharing the gospel abroad and to internationals here in the city, and a number of other things to impact the Kingdom.

How are they able to do all this while in graduate school?  Because they are not only committed to Christ and Him crucified, but, like Christ, they are selfless with their time and resources.  They chose RTS Atlanta not solely due to our commitment to teach the inspired and inerrant Word of God, world-class faculty, and expansive student and alumni network, but because we provide them the opportunity to remain in ministry while pursuing their degree.  They understand and appreciate the implicit benefits in immersing oneself within his or her studies and beginning ministry after an intense period of preparation, but have chosen a less traditional route because ministry is anything but traditional.

At RTS Atlanta our students learn to maintain a healthy balance between serving the Lord, caring for their family, and pursuing a degree, a practical and necessary skill for ministry that cannot be learned from a lecture.  How do they learn this?  We provide the high-quality education RTS is known for, but we deliver this education in a variety of ways and at a variety of times.  From evening classes that meet one night a week to weekend classes that meet 3-5 weekends a semester, from intensive classes that meet for 2-5 consecutive days to the opportunity to complete a select portion of the degree online, because we believe a holistic seminary experience will include opportunities for students to apply their knowledge outside the classroom, we ensure our students have time during their week to pursue ministry.  Because like our students we also believe “ministry” is a verb, that it doesn’t wait, that Paul’s exhortations to Timothy to “continue to fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12) and “to not neglect the spiritual gift within him” (1 Timothy 4:14) are normative, we give our students the freedom to keep one foot squarely in the Kingdom and one foot in their studies.  We believe this is a way modeled by Christ, who supplemented His teaching to the disciples with actual ministry opportunities (Matthew 15:36, Luke 9:2,6).  Ministry, the reason our students are in seminary, remains perpetual because our students are afforded the opportunity to remain intentional.

Transformational ministry is happening in Atlanta through the efforts of our students; they’re engaging the world while engaging the Word.