Why do Pastors feel the need for a Doctorate?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by TCGreek, May 26, 2007.

  1. TCGreek

    TCGreek
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    Is it necessary for a senior pastor to have a doctorate? Now I can understand the likes of Piper and others who, after teaching, were called to the pastorate. But should every pastor seek a doctorate unless it helps the DEPTH of his ministry?

    The reason for this concern is because many senior pastors are taking the quick way to doctorates: they are going to less than admirable schools just to be called "doctors."
     
  2. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    Most churches won't hire a pastor without a degree, most without a doctorate. Even smaller churches.

    It's prestige, IMO.

    I have a friend who used to teach economics in a major university. He could teach a student everything he needed to know about economics. But, without the degree, the person couldn't get a job in the field, and without taking basketweaving 101, the person couldn't get a degree.

    I know of someone who wrote a textbook in a selected field. It was the standard, with no one finding fault in the work. Until someone found out that the expert didn't have a doctorate. (They gave him a doctorate because they found no fault with the book and they felt that he probably deserved it, but if the work was perfect, why the problem?)
     
  3. TCGreek

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    Hope of Glory, should the man of God be concern about prestige, which really is what man thinks of him?

    I can understand the pastor who gets a doctorate because he wants to deepen his knowledge in a particular discipline of Scripture or theology, which will bless his ministry. But for prestige! What have pastors come to?
     
  4. StefanM

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    We should also ask this of the churches that demand doctoral degrees.
     
  5. StefanM

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    I wouldn't say that. Most of the churches in my experience have not been pastored by ministers with doctorates. Generally, I've seen the following "tiers":

    Bi-vocational churches: These churches will generally consider candidates who are students or who do not have a degree.

    Small, full-time, single-staff churches: These churches will generally consider candidates with a BA or better or with extensive experience

    Full-time, multi-staff churches: These churches generally prefer the MDiv degree or better, though in certain locales or situations, a minister with a BA may be considered

    Large, multi-staff churches: These churches want the PhD or DMin. You can sometimes find a minister with an MDiv in these churches, but the doctorate seems to be increasing in prevalence

    -----
    Of course, the smaller churches seem to like having a pastor with a doctorate, but they realize that a person who has earned a doctorate is probably already in a larger church with a higher salary.

    The largest churches, though, typically have ministers with doctorates. I would think, though, that the most common level of education would be the MDiv among full-time pastors.
     
  6. TCGreek

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    Is that why pastors feel the PRESSURE to go schools like Andersonville, Covington, to get a doctorate behind their names, even though they cannot read Hebrew or Greek?
     
  7. StefanM

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    I think that is one reason, but I would think that most of the churches demanding a doctorate would recognize the deficiencies in those "doctorates".
     
  8. Major B

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    That is why I have not gotten what I call a "doctorette" degree. For that matter, even accredited D.Mins are weak compared to a PhD (even if the only way you could possibly pronounce PhD is "fudd," as in Elmer...

    I have a solid M.A.R. from a fully accredited (SACS) school, but going beyond that has been very difficult while engaged in bi-vocational ministry and working a demanding secular job.

    Some churches will call a pastor who is a non-doc, but they won't pay him as much.

    It is very difficult to publish without a Dr. in there somewhere.
     
  9. Major B

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    Some pulpit committees are pretty clueless.
     
  10. StefanM

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    This is a reason why some may be tempted to get bogus degrees.

    Some churches (especially smaller ones) might be so impressed with the title that they don't bother to investigate the school.
     
  11. Hope of Glory

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    This is the area where some go too far the other direction. They turn up their noses at education.

    Just as the man of God should not be concerned with prestige, neither should he reject education and learning. We need to use the tools we've been given, but not for the mere honor of it. (I don't think there's anything wrong with prestige, just as there's nothing wrong with money. But, what position does it play in your life?)

    In the example that I gave above, if the textbook was flawless, why did it matter if the man had some particular letters after his name? If the individual is the best economics student ever, why does it matter if he's had art appreciation?

    I started college level classes when I was 12 years old in writing. (Although, sometimes my typos don't show it; I'm also very thankful for editors.) The first thing I went for in college was for journalism. I've always liked studying and I read a lot of reference books for the fun of it. I also took economics classes at George Mason, and I have taken Greek (and other seminary related material) from two former seminary professors. Yet, I'm considered unqualified in anything having to do with economics or in the ministry according to some because I don't have the corresponding letters to go with my name.

    Oddly enough, I have been published under both subjects. (I also used to write a brain games column for the college newspaper, and that was fun!)

    One church a couple of years back even sought me out to get me to candidate for a position as pastor, when I thought I was going to move. Why? Because they had been given my sermons on CD, and they really liked them, and they were right in line with their form pastor's teaching, except I don't yell when I preach. They liked me a lot. Then, the unthinkable happened! They found out that I don't have a master's degree!

    It doesn't matter to many, many people, what knowledge or abilities you have, unless you have the degree. But, that's changing. I know a man who is a headhunter for Fortune 500 companies, and he specializes in finding people who have the abilities and knowledge that these companies are looking for, but without the degrees. One man that he placed a while back had taken advantage of an online resource (MIT's, I believe) and learned a lot of stuff, and he had much real world experience. Most companies round-filed his resume right off the bat. One interviewer actually laughed at him in a derogatory way. This man just finished helping the taking over of two of the companies that rejected him.

    BTW, I typed a "most" when I meant a "many". Most churches will not accept someone without a degree, many without a doctorate.
     
  12. Gayla

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    Re the prestige comment:

    When the Dr in front of his name makes him talk down to everyone, it's definitely the prestige that he wants.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    A pastor-friend of mind joked that he got his D.Min so he could preach like a Pentecostal and folks wouldn't laugh at him.
     
  14. Joseph M. Smith

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    Another one of those ways in which the children of this world are wiser, etc. .... a few years back, I suggested to my son that it might be good for him to get his master's degree (he has a BA in information science). He responded that it would not really help him learn much, as the cutting edge in his field is in the industry, not in the university. I appreciated his focus on learning, not on credentials.

    And then there is my son-in-law, who did not finish college, but who has created a speciality for himself (in anti-terrorism techniques and technology), and who has been pursued by several companies and agencies for key positions. He is now the Vice-President of a major corporation. Probably many of the people he supervises do not even know his lack of formal education, but he proves his expertise daily.
     
  15. Jim1999

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    I started out when we went to Bible College for three years so we could enter ministry as soon as possible. A degree was for others..or later.

    In Canada, there were three basic schools to choose from: 2 Bible Colleges offering a diploma, and 2 seminaries, offering minor theological degrees. The primary goal was to get out there into the field preaching the word. We did the best we could at "pastoring".

    Soon modernism came to the front and we took exception to being called "Reverend", so we got honourary doctorates...the infamous D.D. The Liberal demanded a BA before theology and a minimal BD for pastoral service..We followed suit but called our degrees B.Th, M.Th. etc.

    The vast majority of Baptist preachers in our Fellowship had simple Bible College as did most missionaries. We learned more as we went, amassing good solid libraries and reading extensively.

    Some of us went back to school and earned degrees because we had academic goals in mind.....the place where degrees belong, in my mind.

    In later years, parishioners could drop out of high school, obtain decent jobs, working up the ladder, but they became very demanding of pastors for those $40.00 a week "jobs".

    Over my lifetime, I never applied for a pastoral position. I received a personal invite to "preach for a call" and often declined offers. The other demand I had was that my earned degrees were not for publication. I never allowed a church to place my degrees on bulletin boards or announcements. I feared it going to my head, and preferred to called "pastor", or even Jim.

    I watch the happenings of to-day and often come home and literally sob in my study at the directions the church seems to be taking. Somewhere along the line, they have missed the mark, or I am sadly out of tune. I miss the simply people who loved the simple gospel and appreciated the man who simply loved the Lord and the people and taught the simple truths of God's word.

    There is a place for learned responses to complicated ideologies, but even these can be given in simple terms.

    I had a deacon in one church who could neither read nor write. He worked night shifts and came directly to church from work. He worked the aisles, received the offering and was always available when a body was needed. I deemed that man one of my greatest deacons. I could count on him. He was there to serve communion, or sweep the floors. He could hold the hand of a needy person, or help them move their furniture. He was to me what being a Christian was all about. A simple man, but oh so complicated too.

    I miss the church. I really do.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  16. blackbird

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    Why do pastors feel the need for a doctorate???

    For fear of being "left out" of the pursuit of mega church glory!!!

    As the megachurch emerged onto the scene---there came with it a nonverbal dictate that said one will never make that scene unless there was some sort of doctorate with the name. Pedagree!! When was the last time you saw a "Heinz 57" for sale at the pet store?? Mixed breed puppies are given away out of the back end of the country pickup truck---free!!! Fullblooded puppies are sold behind glass cages in the mall for a hefty price!!! The "Heinz 57" preacher will get passed up everytime for the fullblooded doctor at just about 99.99999% of the so called mega churches out there!!!

    Many, many pastors then rushed out for the degree just like those '49ers rushed from the East coast to the West for a pan full of gold----some strike it rich----some die in agony along the way!!

    Does it help one to preach?? No! I know many who hold the doctor degree who can't preach their way out of "wet paper bags"----while some who'll never hold the doctorate are still some of the finest pulpiteers in the world.

    And as Forest Gump would say

    "Thats all I got to say about the war in Vietnam!!"
     
    #16 blackbird, May 27, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2007
  17. Major B

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    BB, are you "still in Saigon" (in your mind...)?
     
  18. blackbird

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    My momma always said-----my mind is like a box of chocolates!!! You just never know what you'll get!!!!

    Good to hear from you again, Major!!!
     
  19. Circuitrider

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    A doctor's degree is like the curl in the tail of the pig. I nice ending to a great package.:laugh:

    I made the decision over 20 years ago to get a D.Min. degree. I was pastoring at the time and looked forward to the additional training in ministry. I had earned a BA in Bible, Pastoral Studies and a minor in Greek and also an M.Div. ten years before that. My reasons for the degree were: further training, continuing ed for my ministry, also I wanted an earned degree rather than hoping to get an honorary from a school. I do think that the advanced training is a good discipline to keep a pastor from getting stale. :type:

    I now work with over 100 churches in our state as a missions director. I do not find a strong pull by churches requiring a doctor's degree for pastoral candidates.

    I believe the doctor programs whether D.Min, PhD or ThD are good things. The people I see complaining most about these various programs are often those who hold resident degrees and resent these alternative programs.

    We should enjoy the diverse opportunities for men in ministry to advance their training under alternative means such as online, video, etc.:thumbs:
     
  20. Jim1999

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    Quote: My momma always said-----my mind is like a box of chocolates!!! You just never know what you'll get!!!!
    ------------------------------------------

    You may just get a good bellyache!

    Cheers,

    Dr. Jim
     

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