5 Advantages & Disadvantages of Distance Seminary Education


sermon-prep-seminary-books
For the site Best Seminary, I recently wrote two pieces about Distance Education. As I begin:

When I originally entered seminary, it was in a pretty traditional setting. A walled-in, ivy-laden campus with bearded men roaming the grounds, coffee-in-hand. We had a set schedule of classes that we dutifully went to, staring at Powerpoint presentations of varying quality, accompanied by live lecture and in-the-moment Q&A. My classmates and I would spend all our free hours together debating, arguing, refining, and sharing all our theological growth and such.

But after one year there, circumstance and convictions led me to leave that school. I worked for several years, but now I’m back in seminary, in a distance program. These two schools have similar doctrinal convictions, professorial pedigree, institutional history, and such. Therefore, I feel that I’ve been able to experience distance seminary education in a way that hopefully can give insight to anyone out there considering what sort of program to enter.

The first post gives “5 Advantages of Distance Seminary Education“:

  1. You make your own schedule
  2. You can stay invested in your church community and ministry
  3. It’s often more thoughtful and grace-filled
  4. The depth and diversity of community
  5. It’s Incarnational and humbling

The second is “5 Disadvantages of Distance Seminary Education“:

  1. You have to create your own structure
  2. You have less immediate access to the professors—or none at all
  3. It’s greater temptation to be dishonest
  4. Reading, reading, and more reading. Oh, and writing
  5. The experience is less cohesive

Click on those links for more thoughts on each of those points. And don’t forget to leave your own thoughts!

Writing News: Seminary Thoughts & Musings


paul-surface-coffeeJust wanted to drop a quick note about this. I’ve been asked by an old friend and minister of mine if I could share my varied experiences on seminary life and work on a couple of sites. As those writings get posted, I’ll link to them from here. But, if you’re a seminarian, let me encourage you to follow these sites for my ideas and information on how to engage in seminary preparation, study, life, spirituality, and work well. Both of these sites are in the midst of a revitalization process, so expect some cosmetic looks in the weeks and months ahead. Let me know what you think! Here are the sites:

Best Seminary.com -
Going To Seminary.com -

Lent: Poems, Mixtapes, Prayerbooks – Oh My!


chagall-exodusI’ll be honest, one of the reasons why I love Lent and the Church Calendar is because it is a helpful corrective for my own personal lack of personal discipline. I’m not especially skilled at putting together my own structure, and so I really flourish when structure and pattern is placed on me from the outside.

This is especially true with spiritual practices. To engage with a Church season like Lent, I often need to give myself a blog series to keep me thinking on a theme for the season (see above, under “Lent Posts“, and also check out this year’s series). I really do well with reading plans, prayerbooks, music albums, etc. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some resources for this year’s Lent that some of you may find helpful.
Continue reading

REBLOG: The Keurig, the Chemex, and Dietary Gnosticism


Paul Burkhart:

This is amazing.

Originally posted on The Salt:

Picture There’s no way that anyone could be that happy while drinking instant coffee.

Over this past holiday season, I found myself in the coffee-machine sections of several retailers, in search of an espresso maker to give my mom. None of these stores had what I was looking for, instead, their shelves were well-stocked with assorted variations of Keurigs, Nespressos, and the accompanying accessories.

For those who may be unaware, a Keurig is a coffee-making device that is designed for convenience. There’s a small reservoir which users fill with water every couple of days, and coffee – which comes in pre-measured little pods (“K-cups”) – is dispensed in seconds through a small valve. Clean-up is a breeze – when you’re done, all you need to do is throw away the used plastic pod.

If the Keurig is at one end of the coffee-making-device spectrum, then the Chemex is at the other. For…

View original 794 more words

A message from Philly’s mayor to my church


My church recently bought our building in Center City Philadelphia. For the renovations, we just kicked off a campaign encouraging people to Pray, Serve, and Give towards this end. Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia caught wind of this, looked into our work in the city, and gave us a special message to welcome us into our new permanent home. You can watch the video below and also join us in our efforts to love our city well.
michael-nutter-philly
[image credit: Gene Smirnov for Philly Mag]

Hey Church Planters! A Quick Question for you.


As part of my seminary program, I’m currently in an Urban Church Planting class. As an assignment, I’m supposed to ask you all:

What are some things you wish you had known before planting, or things you wish you had done differently?

A penny for your thoughts? Please also include your church’s name and your position there.

Timothy’s Tears: A Holy Week Pre-Game [CASUAL FRI]


paul-and-timothy

This is part of our Lent series, “The Weeping Word“, where we look at different moments of crying, lament, and tears in the Scriptures.

To Timothy, my beloved child…

I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. (2Tim1.2-4)

Next week is Holy Week, the high (or low?) point of Lent, leading to the crescendo of Easter. It will be a time of darkness, reflection, lament, and meditation. But we’re not there yet. Before the seriousness of Holy Week arrives, I thought I’d share with you a funny memory that’s connected to our Lent series on tears in the Bible.

I was sitting in the little campus ministry Bible Study my junior year of college. Our style of Bible Study was simply sitting down with an eloquent, wise, and gifted pastor, and then walking verse-by-verse through a given book of the Christian Scriptures.

Having just finished nearly a year in the book of Romans, we were just starting our next book: 2 Timothy. Many scholars believe it was Paul’s last letter he wrote before he died. And he wrote it to the man he mentored more than any other we know about: Timothy, a young elder at the church in Ephesus who was still struggling to get this little church plant off the ground.
Continue reading

Why does Peter always get the shaft? | Matthew 26.33-35


Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.
Matthew 26.33-35

What?! All the disciples said this?!  Why does Peter always get the shaft on this?

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Proof that God’s Right? When He Is. | Exodus 3.11-12


But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3.11-12

Haha. God pretty much says, “this will be the sign that I am right. When everything I’m saying ends up happening”. And so Moses’ assurance in the moment is a promise for the future.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

This is my 1,000th Post. WARNING: You cannot un-watch this.


This is my 1,000th post. Thank you all for the chance to write this blog these past (almost) 10 years. It has grown me in countless ways. It took seven and half years to get to 500 posts, and less than two more to double that. Here’s to 2,000. Thanks for the encouragement, commenting, and criticism. It means a lot. Really.

As is my custom, here is your blog milestone dancing video:


Continue reading

Phillip the Baptizing Magician?| Acts 8.39-40


When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8.39-40

What the heck? This happens and the eunuch just goes on his merry way? This is unlike most things in the book of Acts.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.