Every now and then I dream about a hypothetical theological curriculum in which students would come on the first day of seminary not to the classroom but to the chapel. There they would participate in a rich, full, and well-planned service of worship. The rest of the three-year curriculum would be an exegesis of that act of worship. Who is the God who was both cause and object of that worship? Why were ancient Scriptures read and how did they function? Why these Scriptures and not others? What kind of ethical life is implied in this act of worship and why? What kind of community is required to engage in this act of worship, and what resources of care and education do they need to sustain their life together? A thousand questions could be asked; and to answer them the full array of disciplines and courses present in the theological school would required.
But of course my dream curriculum is not hypothetical at all. The act of worship which serves as its unity and focus occurs in congregations every week. It is in the church that everything comes together.
–Thomas G. Long, “The Essential Untidiness of Ministry,” in From Midterms to Ministry: Practical Theologians on Pastoral Beginnings, ed. Allan Hugh Cole, Jr., [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008], 7