Article By: Suzanne R. Holsomback
When students from George W. Truett Theological Seminary exit the doors after graduation, they enter the non-seminary world of real life ministry. The world of syllabi, papers, commentaries, libraries, and classes gives way to church meetings, pastorates, mission fields, and ongoing projects and "to-do" lists. Brooke Holloway, a December 2006 Truett graduate, is the Minister of Youth and Community Missions at Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas where she is completing her first year of full time church ministry. Thinking about life and ministry after seminary, Brooke says, "I have moved into the phase of ministry that is post-honeymoon. I look over my time here and think about how much I've grown...and yet in that same glance I also see how much more I have to grow...in some ways I feel like I've been here forever...in many ways I feel like I'm just beginning."
Smiling, Brooke says, "It's been a bit of an adjustment going from the academic life to 'civilian' life...I don't have finals, papers, due dates, the sure ending of things. Projects are on going and it's now in my court to establish moments of completion, evaluation, etc. There is a different rhythm to life."
Brooke continues saying, "[e]ven though I don't have a syllabus and I am not in the academic setting, I am now--more than ever--in the classroom, learning as I go." She says that leaving seminary where questions are asked and challenging conversations occur has taught her to "join people where they are in the process of growth, of exploration" in their own Christian journey. Brooke believes that part of her ministry is to walk alongside people as they ask tough questions about life and faith.
Brooke also emphasized that she is learning to be present with people and not rush through ministry. She says, "the best moments come when I don't [rush], when I am able to be present to another person or to scripture or to a particular issue. Our world rushes by life. I am constantly reminded (with Terry York ringing in my ears) that we must see life, we must pause to listen, to see, and to be present." She emphasizes and encourages current students to practice "being present" in ministry and relationships so it becomes natural in fully time ministry where there are no grades, just relationships.
The struggles have not consumed Brooke and her ministry with youth in Marshall. She is discovering many joys along the way as she walks with people. She says that Truett equipped her for ministry by allowing her to experience dialogue with professors and classmates. The questions and conversations that she had during seminary are now imperative tools in ministry where she must journey with people through the questions and all the conversations. She also says that Truett taught her to be "a student in life." Seminary challenged her to think and explore and she learned how to study, find resources, and synthesize that information into a practical ministry. In addition, Brooke says that seminary equipped her with spiritual formation practices that have given her slipping feet traction and refocused her spirit on the things that are most important in life.
"I would say that my time at seminary has equipped me--not in the sense of giving me all the answers and being the end-all, be-all, but in the sense of offering a structure, a pattern, a way of living and a way of ministry," Brooke says. "Seminary gave me tools for living and ministry. Though, some of them I'm still trying to figure out how to use and incorporate in life on the other side of seminary!"