What Do I Do with Theological Education?
Nov 28, 2023
By Jonathan Clemens, Admissions & Recruitment Coordinator
Like many students I see in the Admissions office, I came to seminary not really sure where my studies would take me. I thought there were probably two options: be ordained or go on to further study. I have gone on to further study, but I have also learned that ministry doesn’t just look like what I thought it did, coming in. Seminary exposed me to people who used their theological training in different and exciting ways. One ministry I was a part of was a local coffee house that provided a safe place for youth to gather for concerts and to meet with friends. I also saw students go into parachurch organizations serving specific subsets of people, and into ministries that met outside of the confines of a traditional church building.
I found out that I was not called to ordained ministry. But it wasn’t until the latter part of my Master of Divinity degree, that I started to explore how I might best apply my theological education to another kind of ministry. I had previously done some work in academic administration, but it wasn’t until I started serving in Admissions and Recruitment that I discovered my passion for helping people find the right (and most exciting) place for them to study theology!
It was, in part, my theological education that taught me about the Reformational discussion concerning vocation: namely, that God calls Christians to all kinds of tasks in the world as Christians, and that vocation is not confined to taking “holy orders.” I had heard this truth since my days in undergrad, but it took doing the work to figure out that I liked helping people meet their educational and vocational goals by aiding them in their discernment process. For a while, that meant helping undergraduate students navigate the world of standardized test preparation and the in’s and out’s of graduate school applications. At Wycliffe, I serve in Admissions and Recruitment and help students discern God’s call and navigate the (sometimes very new) world of theological education.
One of the things that people most frequently confess to me is that they aren’t sure where theological education will lead them. In addition to sharing some of the options I have listed above, I also tell them, “You often don’t know until you start.”