How to Stay Christian in Seminary

By David Mathis, Jonathan Parnell, Foreword by John Piper

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How to Stay Christian in Seminary

By David Mathis, Jonathan Parnell, Foreword by John Piper

... Show All

Seminary is exhilarating . . . and dangerous.

Seminary can be thrilling, with the potential to inspire and equip church leaders for a lifetime of faithful ministry. But it’s not without its risks. For many who have ignored the perils, seminary has been crippling. But with an extra dose of intentionality, and God’s help, this season of preparation can invigorate your affections for Jesus.

How to Stay Christian in Seminary takes a refreshingly honest look at the seminarian’s often-neglected devotional life, offering real-world advice for students eager to survive seminary with a flourishing faith.


David Mathis

David Mathis serves as senior teacher and executive editor at, a pastor at Cities Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and an adjunct professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis. He and his wife, Megan, have four children. He is the author of several books, including Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

Jonathan Parnell

Jonathan Parnell (MDiv, Bethlehem College & Seminary) serves as the lead pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. He and his wife, Melissa, have five children.

Product Details

Category: Church Ministry
Christian Living
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 80
Size: 5.0 in x 7.0 in
Weight: 2.8 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-4030-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-4030-1
ISBN-UPC: 9781433540301
Case Quantity: 120
Published: January 31, 2014

Table of Contents

Introduction: Seminary: Life or Death? (David Mathis & Jonathan Parnell)
1.  Know Your Value of Values (Jonathan Parnell)
2.  Be Fascinated with Grace (David Mathis)
3.  Study the Word for More Than Words (David Mathis)
4.  Push Aside Your Books and Pray (Jonathan Parnell)
5.  Love That Jesus Calls the Weak (Jonathan Parnell)
6.  Be a Real Husband and Dad (Jonathan Parnell)
7.  Keep Both Eyes Peeled for Jesus (David Mathis)
Conclusion: Be a Christian in Seminary (David Mathis)


How to Stay Christian in Seminary should be placed in the hands of every first-year seminarian. It provides a much-needed balance as they navigate the beautiful but treacherous waters of a seminary education. I plan to use this powerful little book with great profit for my students in the years ahead.”
Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Mathis and Parnell here contribute to a small but important stable of books that everyone thinking about attending or already enrolled in seminary should read. Studying theology is not an intellectual game, nor is it simply what you have to do to receive credentials. It is, rather, the project, both art and science, of living to God in intelligent, affectionate, and obedient response to God’s Word. The seminary is no ivory tower but a crucible in which Christian wisdom and spirituality are tested and refined—not only, or even primarily, by exams, but by the vital tests of everyday life. How to Stay Christian in Seminary alerts students to the real curriculum that undergirds degree structures: the pedagogy of the triune God that aims at forming the mind and heart of Jesus Christ in students and disciples.”
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“For seminarians who have heard seminary will dull your faith, here is great advice packed into a small space. Don’t let the size of this book fool you. It is filled with solid-gold counsel.”
Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement, The Hendricks Center, Dallas Theological Seminary

“David and Jonathan are wrestling with a serious problem here, and they give biblical advice that is full of grace and full of Jesus. Very concise, too, and that too is a virtue. Anyone thinking about going to seminary will benefit greatly by spending some time with this book.”
John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary

“This book makes me angry and sad—because I wish it had been written years earlier. As I read it, I can see faces of people I love who wrecked their lives in seminary, and I wish I could go back in time and hand them this volume. Some of them lost the faith. Some lost their families. Some lost their integrity. The Devil wants to bring down ministers of the gospel, and he usually erects the demolition scaffolding in seminary, when we’re too occupied with Greek flash cards to see the shadow of the pitchfork on the wall. This book, by brilliant men of God, can help you lay out a war plan. Read it, and fight.”
Russell Moore, Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

“I am exceedingly grateful for David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell for writing this helpful book. They touch on an issue of great concern in theological education, and on a topic of great concern to me personally. So much so, I wish that every seminary student in every seminary in America would read this insightful book and apply its teachings to their lives.”
Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College

“Written by two men fresh from the trenches of theological education, this little volume is sure to help the new seminary student navigate the pitfalls of misplaced priorities, overcommitment, undercommitment, and decentralization. It is full of grace, truth, and wisdom, all the while keeping Jesus right at the center of everything. I dare say, it may even help to soften the crusty interior of those of us who have spent more than a few years serving in the context of theological education for the church.”
Miles V. Van Pelt, Alan Hayes Belcher, Jr. Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Director, Summer Institute for Biblical Languages, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson

“This is a book I have composed in my head many times, but never actually wrote down. Now I discover David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell actually wrote it down, and did a better job than I would have done. It is a guide to not only survive but to thrive in seminary (or any college or graduate program where you study theology).”
Donald W. Sweeting, Chancellor, Colorado Christian University

“Seminary students are called to live all of life before the face of God with application to their lives and future ministries. This devotional way of living means drinking deeply of both gospel grace and gospel truth with humble awareness of their dependence on the Holy Spirit inside and outside of the classroom. I highly commend this insightful book as must reading for present and prospective seminary students to gain this biblical perspective on seminary training. I would encourage seminary students everywhere to re-read this book at the beginning of each semester and pray that God would use this resource to help them take hold of Christ and his heart for their seminary experience.”
Mark Dalbey, President and Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Covenant Theological Seminary

“Here’s a great little book every seminary student should read, preferably in their first semester!”
Timothy George, Distinguished Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University