General seminary ?'s

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by sharptech, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. sharptech

    sharptech
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    Hello all,

    New to the board, been browsing for a little while, then decided to join.

    I have a few questions about seminary if you guys can help out. Just some background information about myself.

    I was born-again a little over two years ago and have been attending church for those two years in an independent baptist church. I have been serving in the church for the past year. I am involved in an outreach ministry to help spread the gospel to those in our community as well as help those in need.

    I attend three bible studies within the church and I do my own bible study outside of the church. I try to be involved where I can. The church has also asked me to teach a class within the next 4-5 months.

    When I became a Christian I studied the Word very intently and spent most of my free time studying. Not to long after I felt the call on my life to preach the Word of God and to be a minister of the Gospel. I have worked with my Pastor since and now I feel the Lord guiding me to seminary to prepare for ministry.

    I will tell you that before I was a Christian I was married and divorced at the age of 25. I am 28 now and have attempted reconciliation twice, however she is with another man living together and did not want to reconcile. She is not a Christian, we both were not when married. I say this not to start a debate, but as my background information.

    The questions I have about going to seminary to obtain my M. Div are:

    1. I would like to attend an online seminary and do all work online which will leave me in my area and to stay and keep serving in my church. What are the online seminaries you suggest and will they accept divorced applicants? I am looking at Luther Rice and Liberty - any others you suggest?

    2. How much church experience do seminaries usually want from applicants? As said I have been going to church for over two years, but serving in the past year. From my background information is this enough to be accepted?

    3. When getting your M. Div did you guys work full time? Is it possible to work full time and obtain the M. Div within the three-four year period?

    Any other suggestions and help you guys have that would be great. I am working with my church, however it is always good to network and talk with others who have been through this process.

    Thanks for letting me be a part of the community, looking forward to discussions with everyone.

    God Bless.
     
  2. Siberian

    Siberian
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    Welcome to the board. I'm glad to hear of your desire to serve the Lord. As to your questions:

    1. I am sure that some seminaries do have blanket policies concerning divorce, but most within Baptist circles will require an explanation to make an admissions determination. Both of the ones you mentioned, LRS and LBTS, are good schools, the former being nationally accredited the latter regionally (which is a decided advantage). Both are baptistic in doctrine, aligning themselves (more or less) with the SBC.

    There are few other baptist schools that offer a full M.Div. via distance ed. Several schools offer a hybrid D.E./residential, such as NOBTS.

    2. Most seminaries require active church membership and a pastoral recommendation. From what you have described, I doubt you would have admissions troubles on those grounds alone.

    3. I served full-time in vocational ministry during my M.Div. work and it took me four years (through Luther Rice Seminary). I spent the first two years studying during the late evening and early morning hours while planting a church in Siberia. The last two years, I had to cram, speed-read and write fast while serving full-time as an assistant pastor (in an intentional mentor-ship model which complimented the studies). And to supplement our income I was building websites in my spare time. Oh, and I have a wife and three small kids. I chuckle sometimes when college students complain about how busy they are.
     
    #2 Siberian, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2010
  3. StefanM

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    I'm going to level with you. You probably don't stand much chance of serving in full-time ministry as a pastor in independent Baptist circles. Fair or otherwise, divorce is just about as close to the "unforgivable sin" as you will find in conservative Baptist circles. Sexual abuse is probably the only thing less tolerated in someone's past.

    That being said, I would encourage you to look at Liberty. I'm a soon-to-be alumnus of Liberty (in a non-seminary program), and I love the school. It's a great opportunity to pursue your education, and I know that the seminary education is quite rigorous (you can see the course syllabi online). One thing you may also want to consider is an M.A. program. There are several 36-hour M.A. programs that would allow you to specialize in fields such as Theological Studies, Evangelism, and Pastoral Counseling. There is also the 45-hour Master of Arts in Religion and the 60-hour Master of Religious Education.

    A non-MDiv program would be particularly useful for non-pastoral ministry. The MDiv program at LU is also good, but I would caution you to consider the cost of a 90+ hour degree, given the divorce in your past.

    I hope this helps.
     
  4. labaptist

    labaptist
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    Here's a question, I'm kind of in the same boat as the OP.What type of non pastoral ministry would most SBC/Independent Baptists not bar a divorced man from? I know the NAMB won't allow divorced missionaries (Not sure if that also goes for chaplains.) Also, if it is so hard for a divorced man to find employment in the ministry, wouldn't it perhaps be better for the brother to go to an unaccredited school, where he would spend a fraction of what a MDiv from Liberty would cost?
     
  5. Siberian

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    Not sure about the churches. Like Stefan said, most IB and even most SBC churches look down on divorced pastoral candidates. It might be possible for a divorced candidate to get on as a staffer (student pastor, etc.), but that would depend on the church.

    Military chaplaincy does not have, as far as I know, an exclusion for divorced men, so long as he has an endorsement from a denomination (i.e., Ordination) and a Master of Divinity degree from an accredited institution.
     
  6. sharptech

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    Thanks guys for your responses, I appreciate it.

    I know my divorce will make it difficult for me to be a full-time pastor and lead a church, however I know the Lord has called me to do this, so that is something he will work out, as hard as it seems.

    The IB church I go to has no problem with my divorce as they don't believe that bars me from ministry based on my situation (pre-salvation, and I did seek reconciliation.)

    I know the Lord is leading me into ministry to preach the word of God and to get my M. Div would be a beneficial step. After that we will see where the Lord takes me. He will open up an opportunity for me somewhere and that will lead to something bigger, who knows he may have me start my own church, all I know is I have to depend on the Lord.

    I appreciate the advice on which school to go to - I will apply to Liberty and see if I get accepted. I will keep you guys updated. Any other advice you can give me let me know. What are the other schools that offer full online M. Div program?

    Thanks for the welcome.
     
  7. Siberian

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    There are very few fully online M.Div. programs from accredited Baptist institutions. LRS or LBTS are probably your best bet. Liberty is excellent, and they offer a M.Div. in pastoral ministries. I greatly enjoyed LRS; the classes were rigorous and challenging and they offer excellent language courses via D.E.

    There are a few evangelical schools that accommodate one who wishes not to relocate. SES does not have a residency requirement, but they do not offer all of their required courses via distance ed (so residency is de facto unless you can do those courses elsewhere). Also, South African Theological Seminary, which is plenty rigorous, offers a few forms of a Master of Theology. You would need to have a B.A. in a cognate field, though, and utilize their bridging program.

    There are other creative ways to achieve an M.Div. without relocating. If you live near an extension center you can work through NOBTS, for example. If you live near a seminary that offers weekend courses, modular, etc. you could do it that way; one school (a Baptist one) offers an M.Div. in four years with classes only on Mondays.

    You can get creative and patch together a top rate education using a combination of the above. A friend of mine did his M.Div. at Liberty, but supplemented his online-only experience with significant number of extension courses through NOBTS and even audited a few RTS Orlando courses for non-credit enrichment. It took him four years, but, as a result, he is pretty good with the languages (at the time LBTS did not offer online language studies, not sure about the present) and otherwise has a well-rounded set of skills for ministry.

    God bless you, brother, in your pursuit to bring him glory.
     
  8. sharptech

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    Thanks Siberian, hopefully I will get accepted from one of the two. The school I go to doesn't necessarily have to be a Baptist institution, I took a look at a few other schools however they did not offer full online, one of them being Dallas Theological seminary.

    I will pursue both LRU and LBTS and apply and see what happens.

    Thanks for the other options, I will take a look at those as well.
     
  9. sharptech

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    I am reviewing the application for Liberty and it has a Questionnaire/Personal Statement and asks to explain your salvation experience and why I would like to go to their Seminary.

    When you guys wrote yours was it one full page typed or did you do multiple pages? I wanted to get a feel for what they are looking for. I wrote up a rough draft last night and was 2.5 pages.

    Thanks
     
  10. annsni

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    Just an encouragement - not every church will deny you because of divorce. We have a pastor on staff who was also married and divorced before he was saved and he was even a drug addict back then. He was remarried and had children when he was saved and he came on staff with our church when my husband did a number of years ago. He along with my husband and 3 other men went through extensive training and were ordained a few years ago and this other man is doing GREAT work amongst those who are divorced, hurting and recovering. :) We go by the "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation". What happened before he was saved is gone. He is no longer that person. :)
     
  11. Crucified in Christ

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    On the subject of patching together an education. If someone is troubled by Liberty's lack of online Language courses, they absolutely can do what Siberian is mentioning here. Few of us are so far from a university/Bible college/ seminary that we cannot take Greek or Hebrew locally.

    Even in rare examples of someone that does not have Greek classes within an hour drive, NOBTS offers an online certificate in Greek (I believe Havensdad was doing this). They also offer one in Hebrew. In other words, there are options out there if you want them.
     
  12. go2church

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    Truth is in most Baptist circles, if you're a good preacher, divorced or not, you will be able to find a place. Case in point, Charles Stanley at FBC Atlanta as one example among many.
     
  13. sharptech

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    Thanks guys. So far the Lord as opened many doors up in my church alone and I am able to serve and they are backing me up with me pursuing ministry. As said before I am depending on the Lord.

    Also so it doesn't get lost wanted to re-post this from page 1:

    I am reviewing the application for Liberty and it has a Questionnaire/Personal Statement and asks to explain your salvation experience and why I would like to go to their Seminary.

    When you guys wrote yours was it one full page typed or did you do multiple pages? I wanted to get a feel for what they are looking for. I wrote up a rough draft last night and was 2.5 pages.

    Thanks again guys.
     
  14. StefanM

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    Not to derail the thread, but...

    Stanley was already a "big name" preacher at the time of his divorce. There is a big difference between entering vocational ministry after a divorce and staying in vocational ministry after a divorce when you are already famous.
     
  15. StefanM

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    To be perfectly honest, I don't think it matters. LBTS has a fairly open admissions process. It's not a matter of competitiveness. Just write a grammatically-correct statement that expresses your reasons. If you want, you can always talk to an admissions representative. The admissions counselors are very helpful in letting you know what you need to do.
     
  16. sharptech

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    Thanks StefanM, appreciate the help.
     
  17. Havensdad

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    This is exactly what I am doing! I have taken 9 credit hours of Hebrew and Greek through NOBTS, and am taking my final 3 credits in the spring. Currently, I am 66 credits into my M.Div. from Liberty. Actually, Liberty allows you to take your language classes in transient (from another accredited University), but currently they themselves only offer the Greek and Hebrew "tools" classes.
     
  18. glfredrick

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    My only advice would be to make sure that you are up to the task and realize what a seminary course of study would entail. It is not Sunday school.

    I've been on the campus of Southern Seminary for about 13 years now between doing my two degrees and managing the campus grounds. That means that I've seen 26 new classes start school. Every semester, guys wash out in much anguish because they mistakenly felt a call to "preach" and thought that meant a seminary education immediately in order to get all those goodies that pastors bring up in their sermons. Seminary is not that at all...

    It is a rigorous course of study where you'll be expected to sacrifice a ton of everything, family, time, freedom, work, income, church activity, and perhaps sanity... At SBTS, a typical class, whether on-line or on campus (they offer both and the course work is identical) one would be expected to read and process as many as 6-8 books, write at least one major paper, and interact with daily work, notes, examinations (difficult examinations where one must regurgitate page after page of information!), etc. Taking 3 of these classes entails a 9-hour course load and will end up costing you around 20 hours a day of study and work to complete (plus, of course your family time, work time, etc., that are a part of that equation).

    Do it if you are prepared for the work and have the calling -- by all means! But if you are just looking for some additional knowledge, read a few books and immerse yourself in a good study and save the headaches.

    Note that I'm saying this AS a seminary grad who is absolutely and positively thankful for my experience and for what it has given me in the realm of knowledge, wisdom, discipline, etc.
     
  19. sharptech

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    Hi glfredrick,

    Thanks for the advice!

    It might take me four years to complete, however I am not rushing through this. I understand that I must sacrifice my time with friends/family etc.

    The question I have and I asked this with one of the counselors at their seminary, have you guys worked full time and gone through seminary?

    They said it is fine and quite a few students do this, but I want to make sure that this would be realistic. I plan on taking 2 courses at a time per their sub-terms, which should allow me to continue to work full time. I also have three weeks of vacation which will allow me time off to study for exams.

    Again I appreciate the advice, it is great and needs to be said. At this point I am putting a lot of hours into study so I might as well do it while going to school.
     
  20. glfredrick

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    I was not able to work a traditional "full-time" job for the 12 years it took me to complete both of my degrees at Southern. I may have worked full time hours, but the jobs were all of a nature where I could come and go. I cleaned toilets, sold stuff, worked in industrial maintenance, started a consulting business for doctoral students, was a church planter, pastored a church, and did a LOT of home and auto repair. I did many and most of the above all at the same time in some years, depending on our needs at that time. For instance, I was a pastor (parsonage and utilities was my pay) ran a Snap On sales route, fixed cars and homes on the side, did doctoral dissertations, and took 12-18 credit hours all at the same time over a span of 3 years. Those were 20+ hour days and there was not a week during semester where I did not pull at least 1-2 all-nighters.

    I'm on board with formalizing study via school. Best decision I've made so far.
     

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