15 Things Seminary Couldn't Teach Me eBook

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Editors: Jeff Robinson Sr. and Collin Hansen

Contributions by Daniel L. Akin, Matthew Z. Capps, Jeff Higbie, Matt McCullough, Phil A. Newton, John Onwuchekwa, Vermon Pierre, Harry L. Reeder III, Juan R. Sanchez, Scott Sauls, Jay S. Thomas, Dale Van Dyke, Mark Vroegop

Some lessons can’t be learned in a classroom.

A seminary education is immensely valuable, offering theological preparation, spiritual formation, and wise mentoring. But many new pastors are discouraged when the realities of their first call don’t line up with what they came to expect from assigned readings and classroom discussions.

Bridging the gap between seminary training and real life in a local church, fifteen veteran pastors and ministry leaders offer advice and encouragement related to a host of real-world issues, such as leading congregations through seasons of suffering, handling conflict, accepting a call, leaving a church, and more.

Table of Contents:

Foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

  1. Knowledge and Credentials Aren’t Enough 
    Jeff Robinson Sr. 
  2. What to Do When My Church Is Dying 
    Mark Vroegop 
  3. How to Shepherd My Wife 
    Daniel L. Akin
  4. How to Pastor People Who Are Different from Me 
    Jeff Higbie 
  5. How to Follow My Lead Pastor When We Disagree 
    Matt Capps 
  6. How to Lead My Leaders 
    Juan Sanchez 
  7. How to Raise My Kids to Love the Church Matt McCullough 
  8. How to Shepherd My Congregation through Seasons of Suffering 
    John Onwuchekwa 
  9. When to Accept a Call or Leave My Church Harry L. Reeder
  10. How to Handle Conflict 
    Jay Thomas 
  11. The Need to Fight for My Relationship with God 
    Vermon Pierre 
  12. The Time It Takes to Become a Shepherd
    Dale Van Dyke 
  13. The Temptation to Make a Name for Myself Scott Sauls 
  14. The Joy I Can Know over a Long Tenure
    Phil A. Newton 
  15. What to Do When No Church Hires Me
    Collin Hansen 

General Index
Scripture Index


About the editors:

Jeff Robinson Sr. (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a senior editor for the Gospel Coalition and serves as the lead pastor for Christ Community Church of Louisville. He also serves as adjunct professor of church history at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the coauthor of To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin's Missional Vision and Legacy.

Collin Hansen (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as the editorial director for the Gospel Coalition. He previously worked as an associate editor for Christianity Todaymagazine and coedits the Cultural Renewal series with Tim Keller. He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School. You can follow him on Twitter at @collinhansen.


“Many come to seminary thinking that it will teach them everything they need to know for ministry, but seminary is the foundation, not the entire building. Some things are learned only through on-the-job training; which is to say, some things are learned only in life and in ministry. Hansen and Robinson have brought together a number of essays that convey the struggles and joys of pastoral ministry. They remind us that all successful pastoral ministry is a miracle, that apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Here we find words of wisdom that will help prepare future and present pastors for the road ahead.”  ~Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“What would it be like if you could sit down with a dozen or so veteran pastors who have learned from their own successes and failures? What would you ask them, as an aspiring pastor or other church officer? This book is very helpful for all who realize that seminary can’t teach them everything.”  ~Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; Host, White Horse Inn; author, Core Christianity

“In the few years of instruction it offers, a seminary cannot do everything. Often what is missing is getting oriented to the relational things that come with ministry, something a classroom does not teach us. Here is a book that tackles those other, mostly relational things. It does so with sensitivity and wisdom. I commend this book for the heart it can give to your ministry.”  ~Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement, The Hendricks Center, Dallas Theological Seminary

“We are blessed in our modern day to have some wonderful seminaries. And yet even the strongest seminaries fall short of equipping men with the practical tools every pastor needs in ministry. That is one of the many reasons this book is a brilliant, needed resource. 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me is a gift not just for every seminary-trained pastor, but also for every man laboring in the trenches of pastoral ministry. An all-star cast of pastors has been assembled to fill this long-exposed gap in the training of pastors.”  ~Brian Croft, Senior Pastor, Auburndale Baptist Church; Founder, Practical Shepherding; Senior Fellow, Mathena Center for Church Revitalization, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I’ve come to realize that no matter how much seminary teaches us, there remain some massive lessons that no number of degrees can impart. Since the first step to learning is finding out what we do not know, open this book and begin a ministry-long educational journey in fifteen of the most important subjects of your life.”  ~David Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; author, Jesus on Every PageReset; and Exploring the Bible