Advantages of Sioux Falls
December 6, 2007
A recent lead article in the Sioux Falls Business Journal reported how difficult Sanford Health Systems is finding the recruitment of research physicians for its upcoming surge in research. Strangely enough, I can empathize with their efforts because when the seminary attempts to recruit students or faculty we face some of the same problems (even though the salary scales are miles apart).
However, my intention in this blog entry is not to play the part of the Chamber of Commerce for any hapless readers. Instead, I wish to expound the regional and spiritual benefits of attending or working for Sioux Falls Seminary.
Benefit 1: pace of life.
By contrast, most of our students find a place of service where they preach every week, do the "marrying and burying," and provide the pastoral care for a church. Some students in this region have only had student-pastors serve them since 1949. By the time our students leave for post-seminary service, they have a wealth of experience in a context where faculty are nearby and can help out when necessary. Some churches give student families a parsonage. They are supported with some income and a housing arrangement, all with ministry support resources nearby.
This region provides an incubator for ministry preparation. And we are only making more intentional ministry contexts like these ones.
Bottom line ? except a few months of cold temps (that we love to brag about anyway) ? it's just a great place to live and minister, especially in fostering close relationship with our Lord.
We tend to drive slower than the rest of the country. My mother (now deceased) demanded on one of her visits that I drive faster. My speed was too slow for her. Events receive guests early or on time by and large. Seldom do you see a mass of late arrivals and early departures like for LA events. Daily occurrences of foul hand gestures between strangers seldom occur (I can only remember one such communication over the last 24 years although other people tell me they have witnessed it more often than that).
Even the weather tends to cooperate to slow things down. A snowstorm or thunder storm arrives and everything shuts down or slows down. Things still seem to get done with such enforced breaks.
This pace allows more reflection. For a person's spirituality, pace is crucial. If we would listen, God will speak to us. Our environment here lends itself to a healthy pattern. Of course, we need to take advantage of the benefits of our pace of life.
Benefit 2: friendly, caring, honest people.
Neighbors here still try to find out who is moving into the neighborhood. They look out for each other if someone is ill or goes out of town or is absent from the family on a business trip. Some people do not lock their homes unless they are going out of town. I have left the trunk of my car wide open by mistake when golfing for four or five hours and nothing was missing from the trunk or car. My wallet was in there. Extra golf clubs and golf balls sat open for all to take.
When one of our friends gets sick, meals are brought in. When a son or daughter graduates or achieves a milestone, everyone celebrates, providing gifts and food, but most important, presence. When a service club produces wheelchairs for third world countries, the sharing of the gospel is just as important as the wheelchair.
For faculty this environment is nice for family. For students it gives hope that such community remains possible in a world that mostly goes the other direction. However, when a student leaves seminary, they may not serve in such a setting. In our equipping of students, we take into account the "real" world. In the meanwhile, this environment nurtures and grows students.
Benefit 3: real ministry contexts.