Why Theology Matters for Christians


“My church is not growing like it used to.”

“I am not seeing the heart-change in those I disciple.”

“How does my ministry of providing for the poor fit into Jesus’s commandment in the Great Commission to make disciples?”

“The students in my youth group have so many questions that I’m not sure how to answer.”

There is no shortage of difficulties that plague those in Christian ministry today. The bigger question is: Where and how do we go about trying to find answers to these and other difficult questions?

Perhaps no region of the world has experienced the economic, geopolitical, and cultural tectonic shifts of the last decade like Asia. Urbanization and globalization have led to massive changes in cultural values while the Covid-19 global pandemic created a “new normal” for daily life. Further complicating things is the increased marginalization and persecution of Christians that has been experienced in numerous locations throughout Asia. Nonetheless, Christianity has continued to spread throughout the region as many come to Christ and churches continue to be planted. This dynamic environment has left many ministers feeling as if they are constantly playing catch-up. Effective discipleship can seem difficult and things are not as simple as they used to be. Ministers need training and care to prepare them for the various situations that they and those to whom they minister encounter in their lives and ministries. However, for many, entering theological study brings about several questions. Particularly when it involves leaving one’s ministry for a few years, moving one’s family to a new location to study, and the financial investment required by the minister and the churches and individuals that support the minister’s study. So, how does one go about discerning whether he or she is called to enter theological study at a seminary?

I have had several conversations with those in full-time ministry who are discerning the calling to seminary education. Often, the first question I ask is “how many years have you been in ministry?” Many times, the person has often been ministering for over a decade without theological instruction and training. My next question is, “can you name another vocation where it you would be expected to work for such a long period of time without receiving any formal training?” The reality is that for those who have served in ministry for a number of years, theological training at the right seminary will only help them in their ministry, whether to improve preaching or teaching, to better understand the Scriptures so as to apply them to those to whom they minister, or to be able to think more creatively about things like evangelism and discipleship in their context. In situations like this, it is almost always a good idea to pursue deeper training if possible.

For those who are still discerning their call to ministry, whether brand new in ministry or not yet in ministry, theological education may serve a different purpose. In these situations, seminary education may help to confirm the calling to ministry as the student dives deeper into topics of study with faculty and classmates. In such situations, the student ought to approach theological study with a spirit of humility, recognizing that they may not yet have as much to contribute to conversations as their classmates who have ministered for several years, but also recognizing that they can learn not only from their faculty instructors, but also from those classmates with years of ministry experience under their belts.

No matter how long one has served in ministry, there are other challenges that will take discernment when considering theological education. For those who are married, spousal buy-in is of utmost importance. Seminary students spend inordinate amounts of time outside of class reading, studying, and writing papers for their classes. The burden of family attention and care is often shifted more to the student’s spouse during this time, and so if the spouse is not in agreement that the minister should enter into ministry, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the student to complete their course of study. A second question to consider is related to finances. Someone considering seminary should consider how they will fund his or her time studying. While tuition comes immediately to mind in this area, there are other critical areas to consider. How will a student support his or herself or his or her family while studying? Students may need to consider raising financial support from their church for their time studying. The financial aspect of seminary study can be faith-stretching, but the Lord will provide for those who he calls. After all, he owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:11) and has every resource in the world to direct as he sees fit. A third issue for consideration is the time investment involved in seminary. Students in ministry must be able to step away from their ministries, often for years at a time in order to study. Those not yet in ministry must think through whether they are able to leave their current work to make an investment in a new calling. Beyond the years away from work for study, every potential student must consider the day-to-day time investment involved in seminary study. Students are often required to read for hours at a time in preparation for classes along with other classroom assignments that are done outside of class. This time investment impacts not only full-time students, but even part-time students who take on smaller course loads over longer periods of time. Many a part-time student has been shocked at how time outside of work previously given to hobbies or relaxation is now spent with a nose in a book. While there is a litany of other issues a potential student needs to consider, I have highlighted these three as most important when discerning one’s calling to seminary. If a potential student senses the need for deeper theological study, desires to pursue such education, has the buy-in from his or her spouse, and is willing to make the financial and time investment, then there is a good chance that the Lord is calling them to seminary education.

For students who believe the Lord to be calling them to seminary studies, it is also important to think through how they may want to focus their studies. There is much value in considering theological studies. While the word “theology” often brings to mind people who like to read thick books and discuss topics that seem disconnected from the real world, in reality, theology is very important to answering questions like those posed at the beginning of this article. First, the questions and difficulties that face many ministers today are at their core theological questions. Theological studies takes what the student learns in biblical studies and answers the question- “what does this mean for the world we live in today?” Second, to put it simply, you cannot apply the Bible to any part of ministry or life without doing theology: whether explaining what it means in a sermon or Bible study, discipling someone through a difficult struggle in their life, or reaching out to the lost on a university campus. As soon as you seek to apply the Bible to life, you have wandered into the realm of theology. Every Christian, whether minister or layperson, is doing theology every day. Theological studies courses are designed to help in this process of moving from text to application. Courses in key theological doctrines explain things like what the Bible says about who God is, who we are, what the church is, and the nature of salvation. These are foundational to understanding the world in which we live through the lens of the Bible. Courses in worldview and church and society help students to understand the world through the Bible’s teaching about redemption through Christ. Courses in ethics teach students how to apply the Bible’s teaching to the changing societal values of today’s world. Courses in apologetics teach students how to defend the faith and explain it better to non-Christians. Courses in church history connect the struggles of today to different times in the past to see how Christ fulfills his promise that the gates of hell will not overcome his church (Matthew 16:18). Simply put, a focus in theological studies will be helpful for students who want to see the world through the Bible and lead others to do the same. So, as students discern their calling not only for seminary study, but for how to focus their seminary study, a focus in theological studies will be of help to the student who seeks to develop a holistic Christian worldview and teach others to live in light of that worldview. For those ministering in the dynamic, ever-shifting world of contemporary Asian societies, a focus in theological studies will help to equip you for the challenges you face in your ministry and help you to equip others to live their faith out in a world in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus.

The article above is written by EAST Resident Faculty Rev Jarred Jung who teaches subjects on Theology.


To learn more about how EAST can equip you theologically in your personal and ministry development, do contact us at admissions@east.edu.sg.



Would you like to hear a brief conversation between two EAST faculty on the practical value of theological studies to personal growth, church, and ministry? See below or click here to watch on YouTube.


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