Danny Akin on Seminary in the 21st Century

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Editors’ note: 

15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, with contributions from 15 veteran pastors, including Daniel L. Akin, Juan Sanchez, Phil A. Newton, and Scott Sauls, offers real-world advice about the joys and challenges of the first five years of pastoral ministry—bridging the gap between seminary training and life in a local church. This resource is designed to arm young pastors with wisdom from those who have gone before them so they will find encouragement to stand firm in the thick of the realities and rigors of pastoral ministry. Order today!

In this video, Danny Akin—president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary—explains that while the theology and message of seminaries must remain fixed, they must be rapidly adaptable to the changing culture, technology, and needs around them. One key area of change must be in better partnerships between churches and seminaries.

The 21st century is significantly different, and it changes with each passing day. So, when it comes to leading a seminary, we have to be flexible, and we have to be able to turn on a dime to meet the changing needs and demands of our current culture. I’ve been involved in the seminary education since 1992, and I’ve seen the onslaught, I guess you could put it that way, of technology and distance learning.

I’ve seen the way our students come to seminary has radically changed. There’s no monolithic approach. It’s very diverse, so we’ve had to adjust the delivery system of our classes on-campus and off-campus. We’ve had to adjust the delivery system not only just to provide theological training in North America but also all around the world.

We must realize that our theology, our message, our core conviction and beliefs, do not change. That’s why I’m so grateful to be a part of a seminary that is very, very confessional. Yet, how we deliver theological education continues to change with each passing day.

To be specific, I think the best theological education takes place in a partnership between a seminary and a local church. One of the things I see taking place is more and more partnering in training men and women for ministry with a seminary and the local church coming together.

There are some things a seminary can do more easily than a local church. I would never say that we can do something a local church cannot do, but there are some things we can do more easily than can a local church, even a large local church. But there are some things that can only be taught and learned in the refining fires of local church ministry. The idea of bringing seminary and church together is an idea long overdue. And I’m grateful to see more and more seminaries moving and taking advantage of this kind of partnership in our current cultural context.