From mid-August 1878, Vincent took lessons at the Flemish school for evangelists on Sint-Kathalijneplein. That July, he had taken a trip to Brussels with his father and the Rev Slade-Jones to look into studying to become a preacher. Vincent wrote to his brother Theo:
“We saw the Flemish training college, it has a 3-year course while, as you know, in Holland the study would take another 6 years at the very least. And one is not even required to complete the training before competing for a place and position as an Evangelist. What is required is the talent to give easy, warm-hearted and popular lectures or speeches to the people, better short and to the point than long and learned. So less attention is paid to great knowledge of ancient languages and much theological study, although everything one knows about such things is a great recommendation, and more consideration is given to one’s suitability for practical work and one’s natural faith.”
Besides Vincent, the class contained just four other students. One of them, Pieter Jozef Chrispeels, recalled that Vincent’s attitude in school was indifferent and that he had the austere habit of writing on his lap rather than a table. After the three-month trial period, Vincent was unable to continue his studies, as he did not meet the requirements, which were stricter for foreign students than for Belgians. He left Brussels to preach among the miners in the Borinage region.