Are You Considering to Become an Interfaith Minister?

Posted by Daniel Smith on July 17th, 2017

You should only do so if you have what some call a “fire in the belly” to serve God and others. You must have a heartfelt positive feeling about the divine regardless how you define or conceptualize the divine. In fact, for an interfaith seminarian, a lack of clarity of the divine is probably a good place to start your seminary training. A common misconception is that you must be a person of strong faith defined as a clear and firm conception of God. Actually, you need to be a person of doubt as much as you are a person of faith. Faith is essential in life or you would never get on a plane or ride in a car. However, a healthy dose of doubt allows you to question and seek, which is important for a seminarian. The first rule of an Interfaith Minister—if there is one--is that you always need to be a seeker about religion and the divine. You need to have unanswered questions and a desire to discover your answers to those often difficult questions. You must always want to learn more about the various religions of the world but even more important is to always allow your spirituality to continually grow because of your seeking well beyond any seminary experience.

Interfaith is not only about religious practices, chants, and ceremonies. It is about seeking but it is also believing that the divine is not exclusively associated with any one religion. Interfaith people believe the divine “speaks” though almost all religions. A very few individuals have a direct conventional conversation with the divine. However, in Interfaith, you learn the divine does speak to you in many unconventional ways such as a beautiful sunset, the smile of a little child, and even the holy scriptures of most religions. Religious practices are merely human ways to speak to the divine within us and those around us. Therefore, they are useful, but the divine knows our thoughts and feelings and those practices are comforting, but not necessary. However, if those practices help individuals or groups feel closer to the divine—as they most often do--then those private and social religious practices are essential in an Interfaith Ministry.

What do you learn in an Interfaith seminary? Well, that depends on the seminary. Some just give the seminarian exposure to the various religious practices of many religions plus a limited intellectual exposure to comparative religion. Others focus heavily on giving the seminarian lessons in self-discovery and the wonders of being challenged by the great minds as they also considered God, faith, and the larger meaning of life. Most speak to the practical side of being a minister such as how to give a sermon or conduct a ceremony. Knowing the history of a religion, the elements of a faith tradition, and what is considered acceptable and not acceptable religious practices are what some seminaries teach. Others focus on the emotive side of religion whereas still others focus on the logical and not so logical aspects of religion.

What interfaith seminaries have in common is the importance they stress in going beyond respect for each other’s religion. Whether it is intellectual, emotive, or some combination, each seminary wants the student to be comfortable with the practices and concepts of the major religions and normally some not so common religions. Each seminary wants the student to help others appreciate the divine in religions and accept the differences between and among them. Interfaith ministers should be able to give their congregations a greater appreciation of the infinite nature of the divine as understood by various peoples in the world.

If you find this discussion worthy of further investigation, consider looking at a directory of interfaith seminaries or do an internet search for Interfaith Academies and Seminaries. Today, several seminaries teach face-to-face and online but some only teach face-to-face. If you are more interested in an emotive experience or experiencing various religious practices, you would be wise to focus on face-to-face training. If you are more interested in an intellectual experience covering such topics as philosophy and religion, comparative religion, plus practical knowledge associated with being a minister, then either online, face-to-face, or some hybrid might be best for you. The latter set of approaches gives you much a greater depth of understanding of religion but it may not be a good fit for you. Our suggestion: shop around and find the best fit for you as an Interfaith Minister.  

Author’s Bio: The author is a blogger. This article is about Interfaith Seminaries.

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Daniel Smith

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Daniel Smith
Joined: January 13th, 2017
Articles Posted: 5

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