Seminaries are everywhere. Unfortunately, in the next decade, there will be less than half of the existing major seminaries remaining in the US. There is some significant growth in seminary education on other continents — especially Africa — and there is a growing number of seminaries which are sponsored by local congregations or start-up ministries. The Disciples College is not a seminary in the strict sense of the term; but our educational content reflects that of traditional seminaries in the US and abroad.
A seminary is a kind of institution which teaches through seminars. A seminar is a kind of learning environment which is characterized more by community sharing, shared discussion, and shared discovery than by lectures, research, and examinations. If you are somewhat of an informal yet curious learner, who enjoys the occasional late-night discussion, you will find seminar-learning to your liking. And if you like seminar-learning, then it stands to reason that you will enjoy a kind of approach which mirrors that of the traditional “seminary” — a seminary being a collection of seminars surrounding a common purpose.
In our case, the common purpose is spiritual formation: faith discovery, religious information, biblical awareness and insight, and theological discipline.
We start at the beginning, where people are searching. We call this “seeker education”. Then we move to “followers” (those seekers who have made a commitment to go a specified distance with their discovery but who have not yet made the decision to become a “disciple”. Disciples are next; and this level of education becomes more intensive, with more content, and more exposure to the context in which the Christian faith has flourished. Finally, we wrap it all up with seminar after seminar, in which we prepare “servant-leaders” for roles in various kinds of ministries. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that these people are clergy only. Many, many servant-leaders in the history of the Christian faith are regular folks, just like the other students in your seminars. They may have found or “discerned” a specific “calling” — often referred to as a “Christian Vocation.” But in reality we who are disciples are all directed by our calling, our Christian vocations. Some may move into a professional role with the church or a religious institution or agency; many, and many by far, will continue to serve as faithful laymen and laywomen (“lay” simply means that we are not “professional” — earning our primary income or compensation from the work we do in ministry.
Zoominary is not intended to be funny, even though it does sound funny. What we mean is simply this: we are a gathering place for seminars, and the seminars are conducted on a digital platform called “Zoom.” Webinars. Live meetings. That’s all there is to it. (And they are recorded for those who can’t show up in time).
So join with us. The menu of opportunities is growing. And you will be able to move from the place where you are in your personal Christian Spiritual Formation into the place that you have discerned is God’s next assignment for you. And you will never walk alone. Not when you are in Zoominary.