Brian Burd l NTS Class of 2014
Master of Divinity Degree Program
As a Master of Divinity student, my course load over the last three years has been rather diverse. I’ve taken classes on subjects I knew nothing about, and I’ve taken classes that continue to build upon foundations taught to me in college. Part of this diverse course load includes classes that fall under the “Practical Theology” title. I’ve had friends say to me “I don’t need to go to seminary because everything I’ll learn I can learn hands-on in the Church.” This in a way is true: we do learn by hands-on experience—but let me share a story to illustrate why a Seminary education is also incredibly important.
Recently, a lady in the congregation that I pastor had fallen ill. She went into the hospital for a few days before returning to the nursing home. In the days after her hospital stay, she came pretty close to dying, and I was able to walk alongside her and her family. It was one of the greatest honors I’ve had in my early years in ministry. I had done hospital visits before; I’ve even been there when someone is in their last moments; however, up until this time, I had never been the person in the room (during these situations) that is called “Pastor.” Looking back on that time, I think I was able to handle the situation well because of what I had learned here at NTS.
I came to NTS because there is a transformational aspect to the education here. In the spring of 2012, I enrolled in a class called “Counseling for Grief and Loss.” The class was good—actually, really good. However, I left there thinking “in a few years, I’m just going to forget this stuff and fall back into my natural instincts.” But that’s not exactly what happened…
Was I thinking back to the books/lectures/presentations I had heard every Tuesday night in the Spring of 2012 when I was called to the nursing home in the middle of the night? No. However, what I learned two years prior was evident in the pastoral care I was able to offer this dear woman and her family.
Here is the connection… See, the education, fellowship, and reflection that go along with a NTS education are so transformational that they transform our very instincts to be in line biblically, theologically, and pastorally so that we might reflect God’s image in the world. And so when someone tells me, “I can learn that on my own,” my response is that yes, yes you can. However, NTS makes the learning process transformative so that when you are in new territory for the very first time, you have a theological and pastoral foundation to guide your every step.
Thanks be to God.