Does a Mdiv matter?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by BRIANH, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. BRIANH

    BRIANH
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    First of all I am not Baptist and I know I probably should not post on this section but I do attend Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary..hope that helps :)
    I am curious...mainly based upon the scores of people I encounter at Liberty.
    In Baptist circles, does a Mdiv REALLY matter? All things being equal, seriously equal, does it matter? I am not so much interested in theory but the practical experience of those pastors or pastoral search committees who can speak from experience. Everyone I encounter at LBTS seems to be from larger churches and since there are so many Baptist churches I kind of am assuming the scores of smaller churches must have people with a BA or unaccredited degree? I know it is a general question..hopefully not too general.
    Thank you!
     
  2. Havensdad

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    YES. All things being equal. Of course, all things are not always equal...

    My pastor only has a BTh. But He also has a Masters degree in Biology. Certainly a M. Div. or D. Min from an accredited school helps get you a job in the pastorate, at most Churches (Especially the "Big six", in the SBC). But in Baptist circles, it is quite possible to get a job as a pastor with NO degree, though this is becoming more and more rare.

    I think an M. Div level of knowledge is essential to have in the pastorate, but that may or may not have an accompanying degree (you do not need a degree to have an equivalent amount of knowledge).
     
  3. StefanM

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    This raises an interesting point. The question at hand, though, is what does MDiv-level knowledge constitute?

    I know that some MDiv programs are quite lacking in rigor and depth, while some MDiv programs are extremely rigorous.

    Another issue: the name of the degree sometimes unfairly separates candidates. A very strong BA might be overshadowed by a relatively weak MDiv, even when the stronger BA better prepares one for ministry. It's unfair, but it's life.
     
  4. hawg_427

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    I guess it goes both ways. I have known Pastors of small churches 100 or less that could knock your socks off with their preaching, preaching from their experience and then their are Pastors that are brand new out of school with their pretty little wall degree that would make a deaf person fall asleep. I believe it is the Holy Spirit that guides the Preacher and the sermon and not the Degree of the wall. Not that a degree hurts but I personally do not think it should be required at all. The 12 didn't have a Degree.
     
  5. Havensdad

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    MOST (not all) of the really in depth, quality Pastors and preachers, hold some form of credentials.

    I think a degree, AND/OR an extensive background which can demonstrate ones qualifications should be a requirement. One of the requirements given in Scripture is that candidates not be young/immature.
     
  6. Havensdad

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    Since a BA is a prerequisite to just BEGIN graduate work, I would have to disagree with you. Even a relatively weak M. Div, on top of a BA, is going to qualify one more than just the BA.

    Also> could you please give us an example (specific school) of a "weak" M. Div?

    Thanks.
     
  7. Rhetorician

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    Brianh Response

    Hello B.,

    I hope you are well.

    A dynamic that has not entered into the mix yet. Each "local Baptist" church calls whom they want, with or without education.:thumbs:

    "That is all!"
     
  8. StefanM

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    You assume that the name "Masters" means high quality work. I have taken 14 hours of seminary courses, 6 hours of graduate history courses at a secular institution, and I have completed a BA in Ministry. My experience tells me otherwise.

    1) The seminary courses (master's level, mind you) I have taken have been sub-par at best, and I can assure you that my undergraduate experience was more rigorous in all aspects. I had harder assignments, longer papers, and more engaging class discussion.

    2) BAs can be almost useless. I've seen people with BAs who are almost functionally illiterate. Even at the same school, not all BAs are created equal. At my school, the religion and history departments (where I spent my time) were well-known for their rigorous expectations. The sociology and PE departments were well-known for allowing one to cruise by with minimal effort, usually receiving an A.

    3) The MDiv at the average seminary assumes that the entering students do not have a BA in the discipline. That's what makes the MDiv so different. MAs tend to require at least 18 undergraduate hours in the discipline in order to be admitted. The students entering the seminary may have no concept of studying religion in an academic environment.

    4) As far as graduate level work goes, my experience is that "real" graduate school is where you earn an MA. Seminaries have an entirely different mission, and, as such, they tend to "lower the bar." For example, you can typically apply Cs to a degree program for an MDiv. For a secular MA, if you get two Cs, you will generally be removed from the program. One C gets you probation. On the seminary level, the ThM is more analogous to the secular MA. There are more "academic" MA programs, but they are by no means the standard seminary degree.

    As a side note, I had to do more reading for one graduate history course than I had to do for an entire semester of full-time seminary.

    As far as naming schools goes, I'd prefer not to engage in that. Some of you may know where I have attended seminary, so connect those dots if you will. Suffice it to say, however, not all seminaries are created equal.

    Let's be honest, often the rigor of the school means more than the nomenclature of the degree.
     
  9. TomVols

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    While this is an interesting discussion, and one I'd love to engage in, as the OP points out this thread is in violation of BB policy. I'll move it to a non-Baptist only area.
     
  10. TomVols

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    My BA was virtually seminary at the undergrad level. Very rigorous. Seminary was almost redundant in many respects. Some seminary level courses were harder or required more. Some of my undergrad courses required more than the seminary ones. No question your preparation is important. As much as possible, I believe seminary should be requisite. I also believe having an education that provides a marketable skill in case you need to be bivocational is a necessity as well. I wouldn't be doing an M.B.A. right now (unless it was just for fun) if I had otherwise.
     
  11. BRIANH

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    So...
    ok let me ask this...
    obviously you guys know a lot of other Baptist ministers. Think of any 10 if you can...how many of them have the Mdiv? I am trying to get a practical handle on this.
    Thank you for moving the thread
     
  12. StefanM

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    Most full-time pastors of multi-staff churches (from two staff to hundreds) have the MDiv (and many have the PhD or DMin). Single-staff churches with full-time pastors often have pastors with MDivs, but it's not horribly uncommon, especially in rural areas, to find pastors with BAs or ADivs.

    Bivocational ministers run the gamut, some with DMins or PhDs, to some without any formal education at all. It's less likely for these pastors to have an MDiv than it is for the FT pastors.
     
  13. BRIANH

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    Thank you. I knew all of the churches could not all have ATS grads or Mdivs but I did not have a handle on it.
     
  14. blackbird

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    I have a MDiv

    Its helped me in organization and development of sermons and of ministry knowledge
     
  15. sag38

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    An MDiv certainly gives a pastor a decided advantage in finding a church to serve. My resume made the first cut in most cases due to my education. All things being equal, an MDiv compared to something less is going to win almost every time. It will even trump experience in many cases. I also find that my MDiv was practical as well as academic. And, while it didn't fully prepare me for the pastorate it certainly helped me along the way.
     
  16. StefanM

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    For this reason, I would strongly encourage anyone who feels called to full-time ministry NOT to get a BA in Religion or Ministry. It will either make seminary redundant or make the transition a little bit easier. Churches want the seminary degree, and whether or not your BA is in theology or PE does not matter much.

    The only advantage I can see is that a church might be more willing to take you on part-time while you are finishing your MDiv.

    Ministers would be much better served getting a BS in Business or in education so that they could serve bivocationally if needed. If you strongly feel like undergraduate training is necessary, consider a double major or a minor in theology.
     
  17. Havensdad

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    Then you made a poor seminary choice.

    Then it is silly to argue that a BA is going to be better than an M. Div. Maybe in 5 percent of the cases (if that much), it may be the case that a holder of a BA has studied as much as an M. Div. holder, but this is by far the exception.

    Yet generally BA degrees ALSO have a large amount of credits, which are "out of the discipline", so to speak. For example, one BA in Biblical studies degree from a RA school, only required 36 hours in theological disciplines. The rest of the required credits, including your Associates degree to enter the program, could be in anything.

    That means while the BA has 36 hours (in this case) of biblical disciplines studies, the M. Div. has a full 90 hours. Again, not even close.

    Again, you picked a poor seminary. A single class of graduate work (3 credit hours), from an UNACCREDITED school, required me to read approximately 2300 pages, in addition to the other course work. Compare this to the Measly 500 pages I had to read in an accredited undergrad course, of 5 credit hours.

    Why would you do this? If the program is subpar, why would you allow others to spend there time and money on a degree which is not adequate? I know I would sure appreciate the knowledge.

    The rigor of any program, is determined almost exclusively by the dedication and diligence of the student.
     
  18. StefanM

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    I would prefer not to place such information in a public forum for a variety of reasons, but I would be willing to talk via PM. Check your messages. If anyone else would want this information, PM me. BTW, it's not one of the "big six."

    Rigor is determined by requirements, not just dedication. Your learning is determined by your dedication, but weak requirements never result in a rigorous course of study.
     
  19. StefanM

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    I agree that I picked a poor seminary.

    What UA school is that? It sounds good.

    The history course I was mentioning probably had 3500-4000 pages of reading. I don't remember exactly, but I know we had 8 books, none of which were brief. The bill at the bookstore wasn't exactly palatable, either!
     
  20. StefanM

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    I never intended to say that the BA is better than the MDiv, only that the holder of the MDiv is not necessarily better-trained for the ministry. There are individuals from colleges with very rigorous BAs who earn 4.0 GPAs, notwithstanding hours of personal study above and beyond the curriculum. I think that this person should at least receive consideration along with the MDiv holder who slid by with a 2.5 GPA.
     

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