In 2014, God sent me to Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson to serve as professor of pastoral theology and dean of students. I love my school; here are nine reasons why:
1. I Love the Students at RTS Jackson.
I am the campus’s professor of preaching. Last semester that meant listening to nearly 100 sermons.
Some think I’ve been sentenced to hard labor. What could be more tedious than the sermons of novice preachers?
Thankfully, I have good news. The sermons I hear are faithful to the scriptures and edify my soul. Student sermons have become a cherished part of my devotional life. I merely assist students in cultivating the gifts God has given them.
My denominational home is the Presbyterian Church in America. Many of my students also belong to the PCA. If their sermons are representative of PCA seminary students nationwide, our future is bright.
2. I Love the Biblical Languages Program at RTS Jackson.
Of course, the quality of student preaching reflects the quality of our students. Those who come to RTS Jackson are serious about the Bible, and understand that the biblical languages are the foundation of theological studies. Dr. Miles Van Pelt (Hebrew and Aramaic), Dr. Ben Gladd (Greek), and Dr. Guy Waters (Ecclesiastical Latin) lead our Summer Institute for Biblical Languages (SIBL), a boot camp for language acquisition.
SIBL lays the essential foundation for a lifetime of fruitful pulpit ministry.
3. I Love the Preaching Opportunities at RTS Jackson.
Students preach at least seven times in my preaching labs. They submit to my evaluations and those of their peers.
RTSJ oversees a preaching circuit that fills the pulpits of smaller churches. The circuit provides regular opportunities to preach on the Lord’s Day. Some of my students preach more than 100 sermons before leaving seminary. That means they arrive at their first churches as experienced preachers.
4. I Love the Faculty at RTS Jackson.
Personal piety, biblical knowledge, theological integrity, and solid teaching skills distinguish my colleagues. Each invests his life in the local church. Each is available to students in his office, and meets with small groups of students on Wednesdays for prayer.
What’s more, my colleagues are a joy to work with. In my five and a half years here I’ve never heard a cross word between or disparaging comment about another faculty member. Warm fellowship characterizes our faculty, setting before students an example of collegial ministry that glorifies God and edifies his church.
5. I Love the Curriculum at RTS Jackson.
My boss, Dr. Ligon Duncan, says,
In our day and time, pastors do not need to know less. They need to know more.
We live in a time that is very skeptical of Christianity and of the truth claims of the gospel and of the Bible. If we do not know more than our skeptics know, we will be compromised in our ability to speak the gospel forcefully, powerfully, and persuasively to this very cynical culture. That is one of the reasons why I think seminary training, along with the kind of practical work and experience that you get from working in the local church, is necessary. Those two things together are the best possible way I think to prepare people to do ministry in our day in time.
RTS’s curriculum prepares students to meet the challenges of a skeptical culture. It is well-rounded and rigorous. Potential students who are not ready to work – and work hard – need not apply. Students will leave RTSJ with a good grounding in biblical and theological studies, church history, evangelism, apologetics, missions, Christian education, and counseling. They will be given practical know-how in church leadership and administration.
6. I Love the Churches that RTS Jackson Students Attend.
Many of our students become interns in area churches. Jackson, it seems, is home to a comparatively large number of churches with strong expository preaching and traditional pastoral care. Godly mentors are available to our students.
Area churches also welcome students, and just as importantly, receive their ministry. Pictured above is my current pastoral intern, Colton Underwood, and his lovely wife, Rachel. First Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City treasures them. We want all of our interns to leave us with experience in every area of ministry, and prepared to serve their first church.
7. I Love the RTS Jackson’s Masters of Arts in Counseling Program.
MAC students prepare for a lifetime of caring for men and women through counseling, both inside and outside the church. I keep a desk in the breakroom of our counseling center so I can spend time with these exceptionally devoted students. I make referrals to some of my former students. They have earned my respect as counselors who work alongside pastors for the glory of God and the welfare of his church.
8. I Love the Home of RTS, Jackson, Mississippi
I’m proud to call Mississippi home.
Few students come to RTS with abundant financial resources. The cost of living in Jackson is attractive, and eases some of the financial pressures on students and their families. Potential students should look into the financial benefits of living in Jackson.
The pace of life here is less hectic than in other places I have lived, and students living off-campus will not face long commutes.
Our state is beautiful, and culturally rich. It is the birthplace of great literature, art, and music.
But there are other substantial reasons to choose to live in Jackson. Like other places in the United States, Mississippi has a long history of racial injustice, and the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is ugly. But with that legacy has come the opportunity to strive for gospel unity and healing, which I consider to be an invaluable part of the learning that takes place here.
9. I Love the RTS Jackson Admissions Team.
For prospective students, Step Morgan, C.L. Pearce, and Rachel Underwood are the face of RTS. Each is a tireless worker, theologically mature, and a servant of Christ’s church. As a member of the Admissions Committee, I work with them closely. They always put the interests of students and student families first. RTSJ is not for everyone. Our Admissions Team wants to make sure that our seminary is a good fit. If not, we want to help potential students find a seminary that will better meet their needs.
I love RTS Jackson and would love to talk with you if you are considering a seminary education. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can schedule a time to talk.