Seminary housing is often more affordable than comparable accommodations in surrounding communities, dissertation work and it is definitely more convenient.
However, there is a snare associated with it. Seminary is not the real world. It is a bubble, insulated both physically and ideologically from the lost culture in which it stands. In one sense, this is good. Seminary should be a place you can saturate your self in the biblical worldview. This is why the doctrinal integrity of faculty is so important. The word seminary means “seed-bed.” It’s an incubator—a safe place for Christian leaders to grow.
But it is exactly the safety of seminary that makes it alluring. It’s very easy to get comfortable living in a place where everyone shares the same basic convictions and worldview. It’s easy to get used to living without regular contact with non-Christians.
The life of a seminary student is pretty culturally insulated: you go to school with Christians. You read only Christian books (who has time to read anything else!?), you go to church and serve there, surrounded by Christians. The only place you might have to interact with unbelievers is at your job—but many seminary students wind up working for churches, Christian ministries, or in Christian companies, and so have little or no contact or friendship with lost people.
See how easy it is to completely lose touch with the lost world we need to reach?
And if it only takes three weeks to form a habit, what will three or four years of living an insulated life in the seminary bubble do to you?
Many pastors and Christian leaders leave the insulation of seminary, and go straight into church work where the habit naturally continues. I believe that when Christian leaders are unengaged with lost people, their churches will be, too. This insulation is a major factor in the church’s ineffectiveness at evangelism.
So my suggestion to live off-campus is directly linked to my admonition to get out of the Christian Ghetto. Wherever you live, you need a plan to engage regularly with the real, lost people around you.
How do you get out of the Christian Ghetto?
Learn to Share Your Faith