Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Case For Pursuing a Bible College Education by Distance Learning

Is Bible College a viable option for your future? God calls you to serve Him. How will you prepare?
In the wisdom of God He selects certain individuals to serve Him above and beyond the rank-and-file believer. (Ephesians 4:11-16) Those called to such leadership are entrusted with a stewardship - a special responsibility to fulfill God's calling in and through their lives. Are you sensing that the Lord is calling you to serve Him in this way? If so, it is a serious matter to consider how you can become equipped to fulfill your calling as a "good and faithful servant".
Should the Lord be calling you into vocational ministry (such as a pastor, missionary, youth pastor, Christian education director, Christian school teacher, missionary nurse, etc.) it is important to understand what the expected educational prerequisites are. For most full time positions of leadership in the church a Bachelor's degree is considered a minimum while many times a Master's or Doctorate is required or encouraged.
When the Lord called me to serve Him as a pastor I had a smattering of college credits and no degree. I also had six small children and a limited budget. I was pursuing a license with a denomination that had an in-house ministerial study program that I completed over a period of about two years. What I lacked were the skills to do the job. I began praying and searching for a solution. How could I become properly equipped to serve the Lord as a pastor?
My needs were simple. I needed the tools to understand the Word of God on one hand, the needs of my congregation on the other hand, and how to take the truths of God's Word and grow them into the lives of the people I served. I could not quit my secular job and go back to school so I needed to look at other options. Doing extensive research online I discovered that although there were a number of Bible colleges (and seminaries) that offered degrees by distance learning, many did not have the level of scholarship and academic discipline to meet my needs.
My counsel is to investigate potential distance learning/online Bible colleges thoroughly. Get a sample of their coursework if possible before enrolling. Ask the Lord for wisdom in choosing a school that is doctrinally sound and spiritually alive. Make it your priority to look for a college that will not simply fill your mind but mold your life into Christlikeness.
May I recommend that you consider the choice I made almost 20 years ago, Biblical Life College and Seminary in Marshfield, Missouri. The coursework was hard but rewarding. In addition to equipping me to serve as senior pastor, I taught for 8 years at a regionally accredited Christian college and now teach at a Christian High School in addition to my pastoral work.

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