The Theological Seminary from a Theological Student

A student studying at the Theological Seminary in Taiwan

I thank God for his grace and selection for being able to enroll in the seminary in preparation for becoming a full-time servant of the Lord. For Hong Kong members of our church, the seminary might be a rather foreign concept. One might picture the seminary to be a quiet monastery like the sort we see in television dramas, where students spend their entire days reading the Bible and scribbling down verses. With the good fortune of being invited to contribute an article to the newsletter, I’d like to unveil some of the ‘mysteries’ of our True Jesus Church Seminary in Taiwan.

In truth, our seminary is very different from other seminaries. Ordinary seminaries admit students who might not really want to become pastors. They might have joined for the purpose of academic research or to become a professor of sorts. Our seminary can guarantee that it would not accept anyone who applies out of curiosity or to merely study and fulfil academic pursuits. All students in the seminary are there so that they can become a preacher some day, so the courses and training are all geared towards nurturing future preachers. This is why aside from studying the Bible, there are also courses on essential skills for a preacher, such as pastoring, evangelism and church development.

As a preacher, you must be prepared in spiritual knowledge, but also trained in spiritual cultivation. This means seminary students can not do without daily morning and evening prayer sessions, at the very least. However daunting that sounds, most seminary students feel those prayer sessions are not enough when faced with the challenges of pastoring. So, many co-workers will have additional prayers in the evening if they can find the time.

Aside from the standard lessons, much of the course weighting also goes towards field practice, which is divided into two broad categories: weekend field practice and holiday field practice. Weekend field practices can actually be further divided into ordinary weekend practices and group practices. In ordinary weekend practices, students spend a weekend each month shadowing a designated preacher, aiding him in the preparation of services at his church, visitations, weddings and funerals, religious education and other daily church works. As for group practices, all students collectively visit one of the districts (Taiwan TJC is divided into 7 districts), where they will aid in leading services and convocations. Convocation leading practice is very important, because seminary students have to take care of all the arrangements,which enables an understanding of the preparation and administration work required to hold a convocation. Holiday field practices, as the name suggests, is where students shadow a designated preacher during their holiday periods, aiding him or her in all aspects of ministry.

Finally, I hope that after sisters and brothers have gained a better understanding of the workings of the theological seminary, they might consider devoting themselves to full-time ministry.