Reformed, Covenant, or Westminster

Discussion in 'Seminaries, Colleges & Education' started by hankook, Jun 5, 2011.

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  1. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman


    I'm 23 years old and just graduated from UF in Gainesville, FL with an electrical engineering degree. I've decided to go to seminary about 2 months ago. I am not married or have any children. I've led musical worship for 5 years, and I enjoy leading people to magnify the worth and the beauty of Jesus. I've also had some experience in preaching to the youth. I aspire to be a passionate, biblical, and people-loving pastor and scholar.

    I've applied to Reformed in Orlando, Covenant in St. Louis, and Westminster in Philadelphia. I got accepted from Reformed and Covenant, but I'm still waiting for their reply for Westminster. I've talked to a lot of pastors, and I've gained some knowledge of these seminaries. I want to list the pros and cons for each school with my limited knowledge. But, I just want to know which seminary would be the best for me in my growth as a minister.

    Reformed in Orlando
    Pros: It's close to home. I may already have an internship position at a local church in Orlando to help pay for my tuition. I may have a place to stay for cheap. And, I know a lot of pastors who came out of this school. I'm going to be saving a lots of money if I go here. And, I will be very comfortable compared to other places.
    Cons: Comfort may not be what I exactly need. I've been very sheltered my whole life. I've never worked in my life. I've always lived near my home. Some people are telling me that I should go outside of my comfort zone (Florida) and get different experience from other schools. And to be honest, I'm not exactly sure whether this school is more scholarly or more pastoral. So, please, inform me anything that you guys may know about.

    Covenant in St. Louis
    Pros: After doing an interview with them, I was fairly impressed. I don't know if they are just very good at advertising, but doing an interview with one of them really got me interested in their school. According to one of the faculties, they aren't just committed to teach information, but they are committed in the individual student's spiritual growth. They even mentioned that they keep the student accountable with things like sexual sins. They said that they are more about building pastors than scholars, which is what I think I need more of. I was fortunate enough to be taught the Reformed and systematic theology from my mentor when I was young. So, I'm not too concerned about growing as a scholar, but I'm more concerned about my growth as a pastor. I want to be mentored and learn how to live a disciplined and holy life. So, unless someone else can testify against this, Covenant seems to have what builds up a pastor.
    Cons: They aren't giving me much financial support. I'm receiving about 20% scholarship, and I'm supposed to also make money to support my living expenses. Reformed has this 1/3 scholarship where if I get a support from a local church who's willing to pay up to 1/3 of my tuition, then Reformed pays 1/3 of my tuition as well. Covenant doesn't have any of that, and I'll be in the most financial difficulty out of the three schools I've mentioned.

    Westminster in Philadelphia
    Pros: I actually talked to a student who's in there right now. She told me that their school is very prestigious and academic, which is what I want. Being a scholar is something that is natural to me and I enjoy reading dead guys' books and writings. I also heard from her that they teach Greek and Hebrew to a higher standard because they make their students read their Bible in its original languages. So, I'm very interested in the fact that they build scholars.
    Cons: Financially speaking, I'm not exactly sure what I'll be able to receive. But, my home church pastor is very supportive about me going to this school. So, I'm expecting some form of significant financial support. Also, because it's such an academic school, I'm also concerned whether they are able to build pastors with character. So, unless I'm not informed enough, I'm a bit worried that I may turn into a heady scholar who doesn't know how to deal with actual people.

    So, this is what I have and know so far. After reading a bunch of threads in this forum, I've come across a lot of people who disliked Covenant, but I wasn't sure why people disliked it. Yes, there were links provided, but none of them worked for me. So, please, inform me anything that may be helpful in my decision.

    Also, some people suggested that finance should be left for God to provide. But, I want to be realistic. Of course, I trust in the Lord with all of my life, but I believe I am called to do all that I can to receive enough funds to provide for the tuition and my living expenses, unless God gives me this undeniable calling to go to a certain place without financial consideration. I've grown up with a widowed mother and I do not wish to be a burden to her.

    By the way, please, do not try to put another seminary in my consideration list. This list is final for me. No more applications.

    Thanks in advance,

    Last edited: Jun 5, 2011
  2. uberkermit

    uberkermit Puritan Board Freshman

    I would suggest you go here. Do a search on the page for A Call To The Ministry / A.N. Martin When you find that, listen to messages MI-A-1 through MI-A-5. This might help you with your decision.
  3. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Hey John, glad to hear from you. I vividly remember grad applications and all the factors involved. I remember nights in which I had trouble sleeping, because I was analyzing options and re-weighing factors for the thousandth time. So, I just want to encourage you, to remind you that making or not making a "perfect" choice here isn't the key to your future success. If you walk close to God, commit yourself to the church, and take your classes seriously, you will emerge from any of those schools a fantastic pastoral candidate. God is the good shepherd, and he gets his sheep where they need to go. Oh, and find a wife. They look great on pastoral resumes. ;)

    Two thoughts. First, do everything you can to avoid debt. There may not be a job waiting for you coming out. Even if there is, debt is psychologically burdensome and restricts your ministry options. And I think the Bible has some words of wisdom on this topic.

    Second, the harsh truth is that few seminarians graduate with a great working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Learning to read an ancient language takes a lot of time and energy, and the curriculum can only be so big. Also, since seminaries are interested in producing exegetes, sometimes actually learning the language gets rushed. The result is that instead of exegeting Greek, students learn to make half-decent English translations and exegete those. If you want to be proficient in Greek someday, I'd advise you to find a mentor/tutor, learn some basic morphology and grammar, and READ READ READ READ. Also practice composition (writing). If you can't write basic sentences in Greek, you won't really be able to read that well either.
  4. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    RTS Orlando. It is a good school and will cost you the least.
  5. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I discourage against RTS Orlando and CTS. Message me for my reasons...

    I'd look into also GPTS and RTS Charlotte, both seem to be in your neck of the woods. Both are good schools. GPTS will be by far one of the cheapest, and if you need I can put you into contact with Joey Pipa, the president of the seminary.
  6. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Covenant is a denominational school; RTS and Westminster are independent. Unless you are sure that you want to end up in the PCA, the others may do more to keep your options open. You are showing a Baptist background - are you becoming Presbyterian?
  7. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman

    I was from a PC(USA) Korean church before college. So, to be honest, I'm more familiar with Presbyterian traditions more than Baptist traditions. The church I was involved during college didn't really follow the traditions, so I have a very little idea to how things work in Baptist churches.
  8. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    If you've just graduated with an engineering degree, my advice is to work for two or three years as an engineer to save up money, and then go to seminary. I work as an engineer, and the salary from that has made paying for seminary a breeze. Meanwhile, you're going to see a lot of seminary students struggling to make ends meet and graduating with a lot of debt.

    Alternately, you could go to seminary first and then work as an engineer to pay off your debt, but I think the other way around makes more sense.

    With regard to your choices, it really depends on your career goals. You mentioned academia. Are you looking to do a PhD? In what field? OT, NT, Church History/Historical Theology, Systematics, Apologetics, Ethics? You may want to choose your seminary based on a particular professor in your field you want to study under.
  9. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman

    My special interest is in Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology.

    I did consider working for couple of years, but I do not wish to work in the electrical engineering field. I've received advice from others who told me to work for couple of years first, but I've decided not to do that. I've prayed and I believe the answer I've received from God was to go straight to seminary. If I was to work, I would rather work at a church for couple years rather than using my engineering degree.

  10. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    You and I have a lot in common - same cultural background and experiences. Seminary (in the west) is very expensive and very demanding. You need to count the cost and know what you're getting into. Don't rush getting into ministry until the call of God renders you powerless to do or think of anything else. It is not an occupation you choose based on your interests; as Piper says, brothers, we are not professionals!

    John, send me an email: [email protected]. I've walked the path you're considering, so let's talk, hyoung to dong-seng!
  11. ChariotsofFire

    ChariotsofFire Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would also suggest looking at Greenville. (I was converted under Dr. Pipa's preaching as a boy)

    Why Greenville?
    "Christ-centered-heart Preaching ─ Because the preaching of the Word is the God-ordained means for the spread of the Gospel, the priority of preaching is one of the main thrusts of a GPTS education. We believe that one of the great needs of the modern Church is strong preaching accompanied by humility of spirit and sincerity of heart."
  12. mjmacvey

    mjmacvey Puritan Board Freshman

    The student you talked to about WTS was right, if you value scholarship and really want to learn Greek and Hebrew go there. I know of another school that takes the same approach, but I will honor your request not to put another seminary in your consideration list. ;)
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  13. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    If you have no interest in using your degree why did you get it? I am sure you are excited to go to seminary but I think your best option is to work and save money or work and go to seminary part time to be able to pay for it. Pastors don't make much money. Better idea to do something less exciting now and be free of debt in 7 years than jump right in to seminary and be in debt the rest of your life. Plus, an M.Div is no promise of a pastorate. You very well might end up relying on your undergrad degree. Just some food for thought.
  14. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for actually reading and respecting my request!

    The reason why I got it was because I was always interested in electronics and computers. But, just because I'm interested in them doesn't mean that I want to study in-depth about it to see how they work. The desire to go to seminary was always in the back of my mind since freshman year in college. But, I ignored it and kept going with the engineering degree until this year. I did not want to NOT graduate by switching my major into something else. So, what I did was finish in getting my degree. This is something I've prayed about and discussed with family and pastors that care about me. The conclusion, as of now, is to go to seminary now.

    I will not take any loans, so debt won't be an issue. If by some chance I won't be making enough money to go to seminary, then I will take a break to save money and continue. So, if anything, I would rather like to hear some tips to how to provide for myself financially when I am in seminary.
    I've sent you an e-mail a couple of days ago. I hope you reply soon.
  15. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Learn to cook beans and rice. :lol:
  16. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman

    Rice is something I'm already used to as a Korean! But, beans are great as well! :lol:
  17. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yeah I am sure you can cook rice better than I. :lol:
  18. athanatos

    athanatos Puritan Board Freshman

    I was debating among Calvin Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Westminster. I am attending WTS this Summer to start Hebrew. The insight given by posters in that thread (and via PM) were factored in.

    Though I might echo what Don (elnwood) said, though. From what I understand, electrical engineers make excellent money (they are in high demand), and thus you can save up a few years before you go into the seminary. You've got a good head on your shoulders, and there is no rush, is there?

    Btw, I graduated may '09, so I've waited 2 years. The two years are also good opportunities to continue to juggle ministry with other life demands. These two years only strengthened my desire to go to seminary. I want to get more equipment (seminary) and devote more time to ministry (full time service, likely). If you're wondering or worried about losing your place/eligibility, ask them about deferring it. Usually they have no problem with pushing it back a year. I don't know about 3. And by then you will likely be more qualified, through maturity, anyway.
  19. nwink

    nwink Puritan Board Sophomore

    John, as others have done so far on this thread, I would encourage you to take a couple years to work and save up some money before going to seminary. Maybe even use this time to do some personal study to prepare for seminary to test the waters even further, such as trying to read some of the books on the Westminster recommended reading list. I don't only say this about working because it will help you avoid going into debt, but because it will teach you the discipline of you said you've never worked in your life. If you want to be a pastor some day, you will have a flock of working people and their families. Important things like marriage, work, etc, are things in your life that will help you relate even more to those in your congregation who are married, working, etc, and their families. You also said you feel you've led a sheltered life. Holding a job will also help you deal with that, too, as you'll be working with people of all walks of life, people who are dealing with life problems, and dealing with people who might be frustrating. I mean, going to a secular school, you deal with people in the world...but school isn't a very good reflection of real-life. If you became a pastor right after seminary, you would have had no real-life work experience, so how might you counsel someone who is in a stressful work environment? Just a few thoughts to consider.

    Additionally, if you ever needed to use your degree for a job in the future, having some work experience is better than having no experience, being removed say 10 years from college....especially in a field like electrical engineering where things change so much.
  20. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If you decide to go to RTS, but still take some time off to raise some funds, I would recommend you taking an original language course online as a way of getting a head start. I am nowhere near proficient at Greek, but it is amazing how a little Greek can fix so many of the "problem" passages.
  21. jawyman

    jawyman Puritan Board Junior

  22. 3John2

    3John2 Puritan Board Freshman

  23. matt01

    matt01 Puritan Board Senior

  24. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for actually reading everything I've said, Matt.

    Also, for those of you who's suggesting I should work, I truly appreciate your suggestions and wisdom, but I've decided not to wait. Like I said before, this has been suggested to me by a lot of my friends and pastors. However, I prayed and considered all things, and I believe God is calling me to go to seminary now. My family, my friends, the pastors that I know, and my mentor support me in my decision. So, please, refrain from any more of suggestion about working before going to seminary.


  25. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hey John,

    Out of curiosity is there a reason why you did not choose one of the SBC seminaries? They will be considerably cheaper for you. I am not wanting to add them to your list, just curious why they are not on the list.
  26. hankook

    hankook Puritan Board Freshman

    I come from a more Presbyterian background than Baptist. I have considered SBTS with Al Mohler, but I want to be studying under strong Reformed and Presbyterian influence.

    My home church pastor and the congregation wants to support me. This church is PC(USA) and Korean. So, if I go to any of the SBC seminaries, there wouldn't be as much support.

    I know students or pastors that are actually in CTS, RTS, and WTS, right now. So, I would be able to serve and work under a church near there through the connection that I have. I'm not willing to go to Kentucky, where I have absolutely no connection.
  27. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    That's cool.
  28. 3John2

    3John2 Puritan Board Freshman

    So just out of curiosity have you decided yet?
  29. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I would think that might militate a bit against Covenant. One of the independents you are considering might be less of an issue. I'd at least explore that with your home church.
  30. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    Not many people are putting in a vote between the three, so I will go ahead and vote Westminster Philly. You'll get a good education at any of them, but Westminster's M.Div. is simply more rigorous, especially in Systematics and Biblical Theology. Just make sure you take some CCEF classes to help you apply the theology. A Westminster M.Div. almost a 4-year degree, though, and will cost you more and take you longer to finish.

    Also, there are a lot of other Koreans there. One of my good friends met his Korean wife at WTS. Just sayin'. ;)
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