Hey Jack,I'd really like to find out about the path to seminary professorship. Maybe you know some seminary professors that wouldn't mind telling me a little bit about what seminaries are looking for in tenure-track applicants? I'm also currently in the process of scoping out ideal seminaries to attend. Of course I believe that, finally, I must listen to God and go where he calls me. But for now I'm convinced there's nothing wrong with gathering all the info. that I can about potential avenues.
Jon, I can see that you like to plan far ahead! The path to being a seminary professor, especially in the U.S., Canada, or Europe, is a long one. Most Seminaries are looking for individuals who are not only seminary graduates (with their Master of Divinity) but also a PhD or ThD which can take anywhere from two years after seminary plus dissertation (if you get it in Scotland) or five years. So if you are only just entering a three year seminary program, you have a long trail ahead of you and plenty of time to investigate, explore, and plan!
Seminaries: The choice of a seminary is very important. Part of your choice will have to do if you are interested in staying within your preferred denomination and what your theological orientation is. Many seminaries are non-denominational, and there is a wide variety of theological preferences from very conservative to very liberal. If you would like to write me personally, telling me more about yourself, I would be glad to recommend some seminaries to you.
Seminary teaching: Your seminary courses will give you the opportunity to discover what your interests are, and, quite frankly, if your professors feel you are sufficiently gifted academically to go on for doctoral work following your graduation. The higher you go academically, the more you will have to specialize, and your choice will depend on your interests, and possibly your ability. As you narrow your field of focus, you will undoubtedly come to know the professor(s) who teach in this area. Spend time with them, ask their opinions, and do a lot of thinking and praying. As you read, you will encounter writers who are seminary professors who may be willing to correspond with you.
My personal recommendation would be that following your seminary career that you have at least five years in some kind of practical ministry, whether it be youth work, pastoring a congregation, or serving as a missionary. This reflects my own personal conviction that the purpose of a seminary is not so much to produce scholars as it is to prepare men and women to serve the Church and the world – to bring people to Christ, to help them grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare them for their own ministry in the world. One needs full-time practical service to prepare for this fundamental task. I had twenty-six years of practical ministry before I began seminary teaching. In my courses, I found that these years filled me with illustrations which were not only interesting to my students but helped me ground in real life the principles I was teaching.
Also, as you are in practical ministry, and as you continue thinking and projecting your plans for seminary teaching, you will begin to see the area(s) in which you would like to focus in your graduate study. You may even come to the conclusion that after all the Lord is not calling you to seminary teaching but to something else!
I trust these few words will be of help to you, Jon.
In His Grace,