Should You Earn M.Div Before or After Ordination?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Jamal5000, May 14, 2003.

  1. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Hi Everyone!

    I ask this question because--in my part of SC--most of the preachers license and ordain ministers whether they have formal training or not.

    If I receive a calling to the ministry, should I complete my divinity schooling BEFORE licesning or should I pursue licensing WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY completing my degree?

    Thanks for any help you can give me.

    J5Grand [​IMG]
     
  2. Haruo

    Haruo
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    Surely you mean "most of the churches" (with "Baptist" understood). I have never heard of a "preacher" licensing or ordaining ministers though I suppose in some of the more ego-driven megachurches it may amount to the same thing. In every brand of Baptist tradition that I know of, certainly in the United States anyhow, ordination (and licensing, if any) is a function of the local church, the congregation, not of a preacher.

    As for the answer to your question, I would say if you believe yourself ready to serve in the position to which you are called without further educational credentials, and if the church licensing you wishes to license you now rather than after your Master's is in, then go ahead and let them.

    Haruo
     
  3. Haruo

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    On the other hand, I see you're NBC, and I'm less familiar with their traditions; it may be there is a tradition of ordination by preachers rather than by churches in the National Baptist Conventions. Let us know.

    Haruo
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    I would always suggest formal education as a great training ground that would be sorely missed if one when just on experience.

    I was licensed to preach while studying (finished Bible College and working on M.A.B.S. program). The church in which I was ministering as associate pastor recognized the gift of the Spirit in me and gave "authority" to preach in the church's name!

    After finishing my education AND spending over 2 years in full time pastorate, I stood for ordination. My church called a council of like-minded ordained ministers from around the state, quizzed me for 4+ hours, men laid hands on me and the church ordained me.

    I would recommend a similar course - license while in training, ordain after training and gaining some real-life experience.
     
  5. Jim1999

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    Essentially I concur with Dr. Bob. One can never have too much education for ministry. If we are getting degrees just for the sake of display then we indeed miss the mark. Pomp and ceremony was the plan of Absolom to obtain the kingship over David.

    My experience differed to Dr. Bob, in that I pastored a small country church whilst attending Bible college and was ordained upon graduation. I was fed to the lions alone, and believe me, some churches are like entering a lion's den.

    From there I entered the armed services as a chaplain and went to war. There I grew leaps and bounds in experience; a different experience. After the war, at the expense of the government, I obtained theological degrees. One, it was mandatory; secondly I felt the need for more training in an academic sense. It is not difficult to go on to a Master's and even a doctoral level once engaged and young.

    We gather the best and largest arsenal to assist us in the warfare we are to face throughout our lives. Whilst we are not to display our degrees, they do garner some respect in the churches, and gives one an advantage in the service of the Master and the people.

    Considering Jesus prepared thirty years for a three year ministry, ten years of training falls into insignificance, doesn't it? All throughout my 56 years of ministry, I took a course every year by extension studies. In those days, extension courses were rare, but they did exist. To-day there is a plethora of courses available and the medium is so convenient; the internet.

    Be all you can be; get all you can get; outwork the Devil in your service to the King, not neglecting your personal spiritual attendance. Rise early, pray long and study to prove yourself a workman not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  6. Major B

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    Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against education--I have three earned degrees from accredited institutions, and I am working on a fourth. However, some of the greatest preachers and pastors among Baptists were not formally educated in theology--indeed, in England before the middle of the 19th century, they could NOT be formally educated, because dissenters from Anglicanism were not allowed to go to college. Bunyan, Gill (though he was greatly educated in private and later received an honorary D.D.), Spurgeon, and A.W. Pink are all examples of men with little or no formal theological education. And, I am sure, the list could go on. Furthermore, while the SBC has become somewhat dominated by megachurches, the majority of SBC congregations, including 33 of the 45 SBC chruches in our county, are small churches pastored on a bi-vocational basis by tradesmen, school teachers, farmers, mailmen, etc., many with little or no formal theological education.
     
  7. swaimj

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    Major B, your point is well taken. However, the men you named were not formally educated but their ministries give evidence of study and a love for learning. In contrast to that, some today disdain education altogether and seem to glory in being as ignorant as possible. If a person never has an opportunity for training and has a desire to learn, he can learn and be used. Today, I fear that there are many who have the opportunity but have bought into a philosophy that says that ignorance is preferable. With that I disagree.
     
  8. Major B

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    True, Swaimj, but then again, I have known men who graduated from seminary and thereafter had little time for education or study! I have talked to several men over the years who have allowed their language skills, etc., to lapse!

    In contrast, there is one Bro. Charles Dinkens, long recognized in this part of the country as "The Dinkens Commentary on the Bible" (call him if you have a tough question), when in his 78th year, called me on the phone one day to ask about how to find a particular book that addressed a particular exegetical issue--he was in the process of doing a detailed exegesis of Ps 119 in preparation for some preaching he had to do! And this mind you, after 60 years in the ministry! No wonder he is still considered, in his 80th year, a walking commentary (and a class A gentleman as well!).
     
  9. Jim1999

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    I submit further that men such as Spurgeon were greatly educated. He was not a slouch when it came to study and inherited a voluminous library of the Puritans from his grandfather. To see a photo of his library is to make a preacher cry. Considering, over his short lifetime, he compiled some 50 volumes of his sermons, then Ploughman talks and other publications, he was obviously a student. How many of us are so devoted...and keep in mind that much study was done in candlelight and lamps.

    We are not all so gifted. On the other side f te spectrum we have D. Martyn LLoyd-Jones, who was a gifted surgeon to the royals and assumed the famous pulpit of G. Campbell Morgan. He had a wealth of academia to draw upon whilst displaying few degrees.

    Dr. T.T. Shields had but one honourary DD, but he was educated in the finest of English schools, and trained under his father, grandfather in the ministry. His command of English led a professor at the University of Toronto to advise his students to attend to Dr. Shield to hear his command of English. Degrees don't always reflect the man, but the man is always degreed, either by school or by self instruction. Oh that we were all so disciplined.

    I think education outweighs the disadvantages in the field of hard knocks. As I said earlier, if those degrees are for display then I seriously doubt that that man has learned much along the way, and no amount of education will benefit him in the service of the King.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. Bugman

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    If a person is called to be a pastor they are going to want to learn. Whether this is done by going through a school with formal education, or learning outside of school under the guidance of other godly men and the Bible, they will want to learn all they can so they can better do the job God's given them. Not everyone learns in the same way, God knows this and doesn't teach everyone the same way, but he does teach all.

    Bryan
    "The Yellow Dart"
     
  11. Maverick

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    Personally, I'd get ordained and skip seminary. Find a godly pastor who will mentor you and serve in that church until the pastor dies or retires and let that congregation call you. Apprenticeship is far better than the nonsense we practice.
     
  12. WillRain

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    In my experience, the SBC (no knowledge of NBA) could not possibly hope to fill all its pulpits with a regular pastor if the required a masters before ordination. Even if the requirement were only a bachlors the challenge would be incredible.

    Idealism is fine, but practically speaking, it's simply unworkable.

    Furthermore, such a requirement basicly eliminates the possiblity of anyone past traditional college age being likely to accept God's call to the ministry because FEW and FAR between is the married man with children and a mortgage who is situatied to have time and funds for the obtaining of even a Bachlors, let alone a masters, and keep house and home together.

    I know whereof I speak, as I am 39 and halfway through the attempt now and almost no one would be willing to put up with what I am going through to do it.

    On top of this you are going to ask these men to wait 6 or even 4 years to START doing what God called them to do - sacrificing the reassurance which comes from actually doing it that you are doing what God wants?

    Absolutly positvly no way. Even if you do presume that a formal education IS required (which I don't) it's simply flat out wrong to expect the newly surrender minister to wait 4-6 years before puting his hand to the plow whne God as not so instructed.
     
  13. TomVols

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    A man who will not be trained is a man who is not called, for the ministry is a calling, and it is a calling to preach which requires much study and preparation. Get all the training and preparation you can before entering ministry. While you prepare, get some experience under the mentorship of a qualified, Godly man.

    Should a church set you apart and call you for ministry, then get prepared as you serve. But the best is to be prepared before you serve. Otherwise, you'll find yourself having to go back and undo knots you've tied yourself when a little foresight would've prevented you from tying them in the first place.

    And SBs do graduate enough from Bible college and seminary to every vacant SB church to have two or three pastors. Don't get me started on that :D
     
  14. Major B

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    Tom,

    I agree totally with the first part of your statement. I have two Masters degrees and am working on a PhD. However, the second part needs to be qualified with this: many of our vacant churches are bi-vocational pastorates and are unlikely to be anything else. In our county, 33 of our 46 SBC chrches are bi-vo, and I suspect that a large percentage of the churches in the convention are small bi-vo pastorates in traditional congregations that are not really interested in growing to "full time" size. An aquaintance of mine did his D.Min work at Southern on resurrecting and reforming these small, often family-dominated churches. By his extensive research of actual cases, he concluded that only 10% of such efforts are successful. A recent book by an SBC pastoral theology expert, entitled "Seven Churches Not in Revelation," estimated that as much as 75% of our SBC congregations are like this. Not many seminary grads or even Bible College grads are likely to try more than one of these assignments!

    I speak from painful experience....
     
  15. TomVols

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    I didn't know you were earning a Ph.D. Where from?

    I agree somewhat about the bivo and smaller churches. But shouldn't these churches have seminary or Bible college trained pastors also? Most of these churches COULD support a man full time (though most don't). If not, they could merge with other churches of like size so they could be effective. I know this is pie in the sky stuff, but it does happen. And let's admit something: not everything calling itself a church is a church worthy of taking up space. So I'd say the truth is that we're both right to an extent.
     
  16. Major B

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    See PM for details... ;)

    [/QB][/QUOTE]
    I agree somewhat about the bivo and smaller churches. But shouldn't these churches have seminary or Bible college trained pastors also? Most of these churches COULD support a man full time (though most don't). If not, they could merge with other churches of like size so they could be effective. I know this is pie in the sky stuff, but it does happen. And let's admit something: not everything calling itself a church is a church worthy of taking up space. So I'd say the truth is that we're both right to an extent. [/QB][/QUOTE]


    We have dozens of small churches in this country with enough room for 150 who never have over 50, and they really are not interested in much else. They are basically family churches. No seminary grad in his right mind would want one of them, and they don't want educated preachers, either. Can you spell Ichabod?
     
  17. TomVols

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    Yep. All too common.
     
  18. WillRain

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    I'm not speaking of men who WON'T be trained because they are unwilling, I'm speaking of practical reality.

    My pastor when I accepted the call WAS such a man who claimed that you had no need to go to school and due to his influance I dug my hole deeper before resolving to go.

    But even then, it took me years - in fact, I was laid off from a long time job and unemployed for a year and came to the point where I was going to lose my house no matter what because I was so far behind, before I went to college because I had nothing else major to lose.

    I have a wife who can't work, and two small children, and that past due mortgage which has grown almost 10K in fees and penalties in the last 2.5 years because I can't keep up the payments. If I had quit my job to go to college it would have been the highth of unbilbical irresponsibility (and I desperatly wanted to).

    If I had taken night courses towards a degree, it would have taken me many many years to get what was offered and there would hav been several which could not be taken at night. Not to mention they were well outside my budget.

    Spin it how you want, I in fact agree with you in principle, but the reality is, RARE will be the man called into the ministry after the age of 25 if you require only degree holders be called to the pulpit of a church.
    that's gross idealism, IMO.

    That said, an un-formaly-educated man called to serve a church which can provide him witrh even a modest regular income should make every sacrifice possible to get that education. I do not downplay it's importance as something to be strived for. But I stamd by my statement regarding practical reality.

    And the thing about asking advanced degree ministers to accept low paying churches is another valid point I hadn't given much thought to. Weak and compromising it most certainly is, but many's the graduate, in my experience, who will not "settle" for the financial sacrifice of serving a low-budget church.

    OTOH

    While you speak of these churches a bit derisivly, it seems to me,the reality is these churches often serve a valid purpose. I know MANY doctorate holding ministers and almost to a man they sing the praises of the little country "family" church who allowed them to learn on the job while begining the long road to getting their degree.

    Who loved them even when their inexperience led them to mess it up bigtime, who sacrificed to make sure he could keep house and home together while he made himself "respectable." Who gently guided him through the learning experiences that, no matter how many Church Admin courses you take, yo can only learn by doing - even by doing it wrong.

    YES, there are some slef-absorbed power structure churches who are a pain to themselves and their pastors...so?
    They are sinful humans and so are we. they fail and so do we. they need to hear from God just as we do.
    I was given the oppertunity to preach at the church from which a good friend of mine had just resigned and he sang the praises of the church. I also heard that another loal church was looking for a minister and I ask our director of mission about the situation and he said to me "You don't want that church" and implied it was just the kind of church you seem to have in mind.

    Well, it seems to me that SOMEBODY has to preach in that church, and either love it or scold it back into usefullness. It will no doubt be hard, heartbreaking work.
    Should it therefore not be done?

    I'll not tell God I'm wiling to preach in the nice peaceful one but not in the one in turmoil. That's up to Him. But I, for my part, am not willing to dismiss any church as not needing to exist anymore. If God wants it gone, he can arrange it just fine without our meddling.

    Sorry...bit of a tangent there...last three paragraphs went right off topic...
    Rant over.
     
  19. USN2Pulpit

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    WillRain, I'm in the same boat as you, except that I'm 38. I have just completed 20 years in the US Navy, and one year in the private sector. I am now responding to a bi-vocational post in Missouri and moving my wife and three children out there from southern Maryland. I will have to find work once I'm there to supplement my income.

    Although I've been in Southern Baptist churches since the age of four (with a 3-year break for my dad's Navy tour to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - where we went to a Baptist church in the true south), I recognize and wish for the education that these ministers are speaking of, and am willing to put myself to the effort.

    There is, however, a pastorate at a little church in Missouri that is empty now, and I am called to go there.

    I will get the education I can. I will be enrolled in "Seminary Extension," a correspondence course of study given under the auspices of the five SBC seminaries. There is a Seminary Extension professor who is pastor of the First Baptist in the town I'm going to and another in the next town over. I believe God has provided me these men for my continuing education, and I will lean on them, as they are willing.
     
  20. Karen

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    You are almost directly quoting one of my former pastors. [​IMG] That little country church enabled him to feed his family while he was getting his doctorate.

    Karen
     

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