15 Things Seminary Couldn't Teach Me

Edited by Jeff Robinson Sr., Collin Hansen, Foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr., Contributions by Daniel L. Akin, Matthew Z. Capps, Jeff Higbie, Matt McCullough, Phil A. Newton, John Onwuchekwa, Vermon Pierre, Harry L. Reeder III, Juan R. Sanchez, Scott Sauls, Jay S. Thomas, Dale Van Dyke, Mark Vroegop

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Some lessons can’t be learned in a classroom.

A seminary education is immensely valuable, offering theological preparation, spiritual formation, and wise mentoring. But many new pastors are discouraged when the realities of their first call don’t line up with what they came to expect from assigned readings and classroom discussions.

Bridging the gap between seminary training and real life in a local church, fifteen veteran pastors and ministry leaders offer advice and encouragement related to a host of real-world issues, such as leading congregations through seasons of suffering, handling conflict, accepting a call, leaving a church, and more.

Published in partnership with the Gospel Coalition.

Read Chapter 1


Jeff Robinson Sr.

Jeff Robinson Sr. (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a senior editor for the Gospel Coalition and serves as the president and editor in chief of The Baptist Courier. He is the coauthor of To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin's Missional Vision and Legacy.

Collin Hansen

Collin Hansen (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the vice president for content and editor in chief for the Gospel Coalition and the executive director of the Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics. He hosts the Gospelbound podcast and wrote Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation. He is an adjunct professor and cochair of the advisory board at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. You can follow him on X at @collinhansen.

Product Details

Category: Church Ministry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 160
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 6.98 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-5814-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-5814-6
ISBN-UPC: 9781433558146
Case Quantity: 68
Published: March 31, 2018

Table of Contents

Foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

  1. Knowledge and Credentials Aren’t Enough 
    Jeff Robinson Sr. 
  2. What to Do When My Church Is Dying
    Mark Vroegop 
  3. How to Shepherd My Wife
    Daniel L. Akin
  4. How to Pastor People Who Are Different from Me
    Jeff Higbie 
  5. How to Follow My Lead Pastor When We Disagree
    Matt Capps 
  6. How to Lead My Leaders
    Juan Sanchez 
  7. How to Raise My Kids to Love the Church Matt McCullough 
  8. How to Shepherd My Congregation through Seasons of Suffering
    John Onwuchekwa 
  9. When to Accept a Call or Leave My Church Harry L. Reeder
  10. How to Handle Conflict
    Jay Thomas 
  11. The Need to Fight for My Relationship with God
    Vermon Pierre 
  12. The Time It Takes to Become a Shepherd
    Dale Van Dyke 
  13. The Temptation to Make a Name for Myself Scott Sauls 
  14. The Joy I Can Know over a Long Tenure
    Phil A. Newton 
  15. What to Do When No Church Hires Me
    Collin Hansen 

General Index
Scripture Index


“Many come to seminary thinking that it will teach them everything they need to know for ministry, but seminary is the foundation, not the entire building. Some things are learned only through on-the-job training; which is to say, some things are learned only in life and in ministry. Hansen and Robinson have brought together a number of essays that convey the struggles and joys of pastoral ministry. They remind us that all successful pastoral ministry is a miracle, that apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Here we find words of wisdom that will help prepare future and present pastors for the road ahead.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“What would it be like if you could sit down with a dozen or so veteran pastors who have learned from their own successes and failures? What would you ask them, as an aspiring pastor or other church officer? This book is very helpful for all who realize that seminary can’t teach them everything.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“In the few years of instruction it offers, a seminary cannot do everything. Often what is missing is getting oriented to the relational things that come with ministry, something a classroom does not teach us. Here is a book that tackles those other, mostly relational things. It does so with sensitivity and wisdom. I commend this book for the heart it can give to your ministry.”
Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement, The Hendricks Center, Dallas Theological Seminary

“We are blessed in our modern day to have some wonderful seminaries. And yet even the strongest seminaries fall short of equipping men with the practical tools every pastor needs in ministry. That is one of the many reasons this book is a brilliant, needed resource. 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me is a gift not just for every seminary-trained pastor, but also for every man laboring in the trenches of pastoral ministry. An all-star cast of pastors has been assembled to fill this long-exposed gap in the training of pastors.”
Brian Croft, Executive Director, Practical Shepherding

“I’ve come to realize that no matter how much seminary teaches us, there remain some massive lessons that no number of degrees can impart. Since the first step to learning is finding out what we do not know, open this book and begin a ministry-long educational journey in fifteen of the most important subjects of your life.”
David Murray, author, Reset and Exploring the Bible; coauthor, A Christian’s Guide to Mental Illness

“Going to seminary is about more than picking up a few skills and getting an education. It is about getting a life. This book is about the contours of such a life, a life of ministry replete with swerves and curves, but sustained all the while by the grace of a God who calls and keeps. Every seminary student should read this book.”
Timothy George, Distinguished Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to receive seminary training. Learning from men who have spent years thinking about biblical and theological matters can be invaluable. Tools and disciplines that I took away from my years of formal education have served me well. But no amount of seminary training can completely prepare a man for pastoral ministry. This book, by faithful men who have both years and scars in gospel ministry, is full of wisdom. Every pastor and aspiring pastor should read and benefit from their experience.”
Thomas Ascol, Executive Director, Founders Ministries; Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida