SBC Minimum Education for Pastors

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Gentlemen and Gentle Ladies:

    There is a situation that has caused me some questions and trepidation for quite some time.

    I was reared, as most of you know, in a nominal SBC church. My pastor was a "Bob Jones man" who did not graduate but only took the preacher classes he thought he needed to do the job. This was the 1950s. So at that time education amongst SBC pastors was not as important as it seems to be now.

    I was there as "midwife" at the salvation event of a friend whom I would also disciple as he worked through the call to preach and minister. This was the mid to late 1970s.

    This friend attended the Mid Continent Baptist (Bible) College in W. KY. He graduated with his BA or BS. He is extremely talented and gifted of God to minister in the local church. He has since pastored 5 or 6 churches all of which have done well. He is now in a mission church start that has grown and they are building their third bldg. that will seat about 1000 w/a loft for a 100 voice choir.

    I have often encouraged him earlier to go back and get his MDiv from one of the SBC seminaries. I have argued that if he had, he may have been pastoring a 1000 member church many years ago.

    Discounting God's will I would seek answers to the following questions:

    1.
    In the SBC now, is the MDiv the minimum education needed to meet the expectations of the congregations?

    2.
    Could the MDiv have made a difference in where and to what level my friend could have gone in the SBC if he had held the degree?

    I know at the very heart of the inquiry there is much assumption. I guess what I am asking is; since the times have b/c so complex is there an absolute need to have a minimum education like the MDiv to minister in our ranks? Or put another way, does the MDiv serve as a "union card" or such?

    I am looking for some honest insights and input please?!

    sdg!:thumbs:

    rd
     
    #1 Rhetorician, Jul 22, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2006
  2. Lagardo

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    I think more an more churches are expectign an MDIV (or at least a degree from a seminary.) Lately, I've seen more and more postings for youth ministry positions that will require a seminary degree. So yes, they do seem to be the expectation of more and more congregations.

    But what's the difference if your friend would have been pastoring 1000 member churches years ago or now? Was he pastoring where God called him or climbing some sort of professional ladder? If God calls him tomorrow to move on to a 70 person congregation in a rural town, will that be a step down for him?
     
  3. Rhetorician

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    Response

    L,

    Thanks for the input.

    I did put in the proviso of "God's Will!"

    Cheers!

    sdg!:thumbsup:

    rd
     
  4. mcdirector

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    I think so much depends on the area though. My mom used to live in the country where pastors were bivocational and had precious little theological training.

    In the cities I have lived in though, most of the ministers I've know have had at least an MDiv -- although many smaller churches seem ok with some kind of Bible-based undergrad. We've almost always been in large churches, so the pastors I've know well serve in those churches. I have worked with lots through association work though.

    Having said that though, personally, I think the additional training is wonderful. More knowledge -- shared and used for God's work -- is always a good thing IMHO :tongue3:
     
  5. El_Guero

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    Rhet

    Just does not sound smart, godly, nor logical. But, I guess in some university or seminary it might sound intellectual.
     
  6. El_Guero

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    back to your question

    Rhet

    Realize that this is in response to your post. I think I must have misunderstood your question. And I really think I had to misunderstand your question. Because certainly, you would not be implying that your friend step out of God's will just to have a shingle on the wall?

    But, just in case I did read correctly, I will respond to the implication.

    Placing a proviso upon God, His will, & His sovereignty might be workable in a seminary class, but I doubt that this should be workable in His Kingdom.

    So my question is: What are you really asking? Are you asking if we should help you encourage your friend to get a degree or step out of God's will?

    So what if he had pastored a 1000 member church a thousand years ago, if he is not in God's will then he is in dangerous territory with or without a degree (and with or without friends).

    Does it make a difference in man's eyes that he does or does not have a degree? The lack of prestige most certainly affects how far someone's comet can go in the stellar world of human politics. But, is your friend in human politics?

    But if this man is your friend, shouldn't you be proud of his work for the Kingdom with our without the degree? Which is more important to you, your friendship or the fact that you are uncomfortable when you introduce him to your seminary professor colleagues during an event? It really sounds like the union card is more important to you.

    To be honest, I would be uncomfortable if I knew that my friends were uncomfortable with my lack of a parchment. Even if that were only an academic question, I would be uncomfortable.


     
  7. Rhetorician

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    E G,

    I am trying to ask, although somewhat left handedly; with everything else being equal. That is what I mean by "God's will."

    Many is the time when I get involved in discussions with folk and they want to sound spiritual and revert back to "God's will." That is always the major factor or assumption for the called of God.

    I was only simply trying to ask, obviously in a bad way, to take that dynamic out of the mix or equation.

    Is the MDiv needed or necessary?

    Is it the "union card" in the SBC circle and domain?

    I am convinced that through education (MDiv degree), contacts, networking, denominational contacts, etc., my friend probably would have pastored a church this size or bigger sooner.

    I was trying to engender a discussion around those ideas without having "God's will" figure either positively or negatively into the threaded discussion.

    That is all.

    I am sorry for the misunderstanding.

    sdg!:thumbsup:

    rd
     
    #7 Rhetorician, Jul 22, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2006
  8. El_Guero

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    Rhet

    If I take God's will out of this, I would be RICH and getting RICHER!

    I gave up a very lucrative career as have many other pastors.

    And it is difficult to view the political nature of our profession and not get very annoyed when we are told that we are not politically connected until we do this and that and this and that.

    Sometimes, the devil tells me, "See! You should have just ignored God and gotten rich!"
     
  9. El_Guero

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    Sadly,

    I feel that you are missing the salient teaching point of your own exercise: Your friend was correct in ignoring your advice and listening to God.

    Honestly, is there a 'better' answer? A different one, yes. Better, I really do not think so.
     
  10. TaterTot

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    In my experience, most (SBC) churches consider men who have an Mdiv at least. Where I live now, the average lay person doesnt understand the difference between an MDiv and a bachelors in Pastoral Ministry - on paper it looks like they have been to seminary. I know of several churches that have been misled and the pastor was not equipped to handle certain issues that were happening in that church. But I also know men who do not have the MDiv and are wonderful and wise pastors.
     
  11. PeterM

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    Unfortunately, many in our churches equate a formal education with ability, qualification, or some measure of godliness. The standards of practice in secular business have defined the typical approach to calling a pastor. Therefore, the thinking that an individual that has completed a higher measure of education is going to be better for that job. Couple that with the principles of "Church Growth," and we have the current mix of ingrediants that exist today. The era of the "mega church" being a thing to be attained has has hopefully peaked.

    My prayer is that churches that select the ministers who will serve them would focus primarily on prayer and not resumes. While an education is a GOOD thing as it provides helpful tools that can be used, but that ought never replace the direction and calling of the Lord. A person with a D.Min in not necessarily a better candidate than a person who has some college. The defining measure of a candidate will be the calling of God to serve in a particular place.

    The size of church does not equal its significance!

    Blessings,
    Peter
     
  12. LeBuick

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    I agree, which degree's did the apostles have? How about the men they made pastors as they started Churches?
     
  13. Joseph M. Smith

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    Not to mention folks who do not know that a DD is an honorary degree and/or who do not understand the difference between a D.Min. and a Ph.D. or Th.Do. One of the helpful functions of denominational personnel, like Directors of Associational Missions or state convention workers, is that they ARE informed and can help churches evaluate resumes with the facts about these degrees. But, even though I cherish my own seminary education (BD -- yes, I am a fossil -- and DMin), I agree that many people do very well without such an education. However, they would do even better WITH the training such a degree offers -- even planted in some obscure place, with no interest in climbing to a bigger church.

    Let's honor, however, that person who is capable of studying and growing on his own, with a solid reading program and the willingness to participate in continuing education experiences.
     
  14. mcdirector

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    You stated this very well. The thing I see occassionally that bothers me is the man who says, "I've been called and I don't need anymore education than that." We all benefit from studying and learning, BUT God does take us down different paths for that.
     
  15. preachinjesus

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    Nope, but it is highly advisable.

    As a personal testimony my MDiv work is invaluable to my ministry. But it only became invaluable once I had the praxis to figure a lot of it out. I would be more than happy to bring on someone for ministry who had been trained up (properly) in doctrine and church polity under a mentor. The apprenticeship principle in ministry is vastly under-rated. I was able to be in this situation, sort of, immediately after my seminary time. Invaluable.

    imho, only for denominational work...and who wants to do that. I just want to be a simple pastor (granted I've served in two massively cool churches with exceedingly prominent senior pastors) that gets to lead a flock. I have no denominational aspirations, because I don't think the denomination should really exist as it does other than the Cooperative Program.

    I do, however, believe a MDiv is a good measure of a candidate's faithfulness to train according to their calling. Since too many laypeople in churches don't know the right questions to ask a candidate for pastor, and since so many candidates for pastor know how to answer around the real questions, the MDiv (with languages) is a good barometer for our church boards to use in gauging pastoral candidates.

    The MDiv is just another degree and you don't have to be smart to get it...you don't even have to be motivated to get it. That's part of the problem. If we are going to endorse the MDiv as a "pastoral" degree worthy of all acceptation than we need to be ready to hammer our MDiv students. We need higher entrance requirements (not to prevent people from applying but to weed out those not truly called) such as entrance exams and essays. We need to have more indepth classes which seek to stretch the minds of our students. We need more conference style classes once one gets past the core requirement. Then, we need a thorough exit examination of every MDiv student that incorporates every area of work through a written exam and one-on-one time with a prof. We need a better MDiv.

    One thing to notice...is bigger better? Do we really want to tell people that you're only successful in ministry if you're pastoring a church of 500+ people? Because that is not success. We've got some of the most "successful" pastors in huge churches that in Kingdom terms are utter failures.

    The MDiv is a necessary evil...sort of like government...we need it. If you don't want to get an MDiv, that's cool, go plant a church. A friend of mine is doing just that, he's got an MBA and is planting a church and doing great.

    great thread topic!:thumbs:
     
  16. Martin

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    Ok, I will give my two cents worth...

    Not all churches require a MDiv or any graduate level degree for that matter. Now it certainly does help to have the MDiv, mainly in larger churches, but not all SBC churches require it.

    I don't know. I do know of several pastors who do not have a MDiv but are doing just fine.

    I believe all pastors should have some level of offical training in theology. I don't think it must be a MDiv. An associates degree or bachelors degree in Bible (etc) would be fine. At the very least a pastor should attend a Bible Institute.

    Personally, I would rather a pastor who has a MA in either New Testament, Old Testament, or Church History. Why? The MA is a more academic degree and focuses on one main area of study. Many of these people are so knowledgable of their area. My pastor has an Associates degree from a SBC seminary, and a masters degree and doctorate degree from Covington.
     
  17. Kiffen

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    I don't think College or Seminary should be a requirement simply because the Bible does not mention it as a requirement. It is a manmade requirement. In my area of rural Louisiana very few have formal training and to be honest most M.Div graduates are not going to come here where the average church size might be 25-35 and then have to work part time as a substitute teacher at the High School or part time at Walmart.

    I do think if possible that preachers/ pastors should seek to further their education. A formal degree does however not mean one is educated. I would however encourage any young preacher recently called to go to Seminary. I also know that some who are called later in life that it might not be possible. I do think that all ministers should try to keep educating themselves whether a formal education or informal. Never stop studying!
     
  18. preachinjesus

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    I agree whole-heartedly and would add...that a combination M.A. (some area of theology) and MBA (non-profit management) would be the ideal degree for any pastor. A MA/MBA is both practical and attractive!
     
  19. El_Guero

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    Name a couple of non-profit MBA's ;)
     
  20. preachinjesus

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    okay...

    Boston University
    Brandeis University
    Harvard University
    UC Berkley
    University of Michigan
    University of Maryland
    Kent State
    Case Western University
    Southern Methodist University
    Regent University
    ...

    I can go on if you wish :D
     

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