Masters in Biblical Studies

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Posts 18
Shane Atkinson | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Feb 28 2015 11:22 AM

This is not exactly Logos software related. However, I know there are a ton of Pastors and ministry workers on this forum. I have a dilemma and I am looking for some help. 

I will be finished with my BS in Religion next week. Currently I am looking towards my Masters. Army tuition assistance will pay up to 39 hours of my Masters. Here is my main question. What is the biggest difference between a 36 hour Masters and one with more hours (60 and above) other than additional courses? Does the 36 hour Masters hold less weight in the ministry search for a Church position than those with more hours? 

I can provide additional details if requested. 

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 11:35 AM

I think it has more to do with what your next step will be. If a Masters is your final degree, it is irrelevant. But you might need the 60 hr. degree if you intending to go beyond that. I'm not saying that's a certainty. It really depends on the institution you attend. The ugly secret (that really isn't so secret) is that there isn't quite as much logic behind college and university requirements as many people assume. The 36 hr. degree may be sufficient, too. You need to ask the institution you might attend what they require. That's the key concern. The rest is of little consequence.

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Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 11:40 AM

Depends on the church and/or denomination. Some require at least a M.Div for some pastoral roles. And that degree typically takes 90+ credit hours to obtain at most seminaries. I personally don't think anyone "needs" any advanced degree to be a pastor, but I understand why some denominations prefer pastoral candidates to have them.

Posts 18
Shane Atkinson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 11:43 AM

Thanks David so to put that thought into perspective a Masters of Arts in Theology Biblical Studies Cognate (36 hrs) could land me a ministry position the same as a Masters of Religion Biblical Studies Cognate (60hrs).

I have been researching many ministry positions and some request an Mdiv, while others are happy with a BS as Josh points out. In my heart I feel I could roll with the 36 hour Masters because it is free. If needed at a later date I can roll that degree further along the Mdiv line if necessary. 

I have 5 years left in the Army. Just trying to ensure I maximize all the free schooling I can yet pray I am following God's direction. Part of me still wants to be a Youth Pastor. 

Oh, and my BS is from Liberty and I will most likely stay there for my Masters unless I decide I need more than the 36 hours if so I will be looking at Dallas Theological Seminary.  

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 11:45 AM

Shane Atkinson:
What is the biggest difference between a 36 hour Masters and one with more hours (60 and above) other than additional courses? Does the 36 hour Masters hold less weight in the ministry search for a Church position than those with more hours? 

It depends upon which degrees you are comparing. Most people would probably consider the MDIV the "standard." Some schools offer an MAR, which is half of the MDIV. The school I graduated from, the MAR was 45 hours, the MDIV 90. 

I started off working towards an MAR, but do to circumstances (including a scholarship), I ended up switching my enrollment to the MDIV just before I graduated. 

The choice of program and school can be very important to you. I have applied to churches which probably didn't even consider me because of my school. I have applied to churches which gave me a second look for the same reason. You will find the same to be true no matter what school you attend... The same goes for the program you choose. 

My advice? Check with some pastors / churches in which you would desire to serve. See what they think... but don't just ask one. 

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EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 11:48 AM

Josh:

Depends on the church and/or denomination.

That's an important point. The churches in my background don't require any particular degree, and in the past had a strong tradition of lay preachers. But, as the general population has become better educated over time, it's become common for preachers to also seek additional formal theological education. I think that's a very good thing. But I also appreciate that it's not a formal requirement, because we never want to forget that it's God working through us that strengthens the kingdom, and not our own wisdom or educational attainments.

Posts 1518
Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 12:01 PM

You might also want to consider the ordination requirements for the church/denomination you want to be affiliated with. Some "strongly" prefer that your degree come from a seminary they deem theologically compatible with their doctrinal positions. I think Liberty University is a fantastic college, but since that school has a strong dispensational bias...this may limit your job opportunities. However, many denominations have non-degree ordination paths that require you to instead complete an internal program set up by the denomination. 

Posts 1962
mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 12:26 PM

choose teachers not classes.

choose teachers not school.

Just some advice from the wise I heard.

MDiv is church standard, M.Th is standard teaching requirement, Dr. if you got time, Ph.d if you're dedicated.

Be creative in your study & always push your limit.

Posts 2313
David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 12:33 PM

most of the <60 hour programs include very little (nothing) nothing of the Biblical Languages.

The M.Div. 90+ hours includes Biblical languages and thus prepares for Pulpit Ministry.

As someone who is seeking new placement I find that many churches are looking for a degree from a recognized Seminary so a MA would satisfy. Churches looking for a Sr. Pastor or a role with heavy teaching responsibilities tend to ask for a minimum of an M.Div.

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Kent | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 12:54 PM

Shane Atkinson:

Thanks David so to put that thought into perspective a Masters of Arts in Theology Biblical Studies Cognate (36 hrs) could land me a ministry position the same as a Masters of Religion Biblical Studies Cognate (60hrs).

I have been researching many ministry positions and some request an Mdiv, while others are happy with a BS as Josh points out. In my heart I feel I could roll with the 36 hour Masters because it is free. If needed at a later date I can roll that degree further along the Mdiv line if necessary. 

I have 5 years left in the Army. Just trying to ensure I maximize all the free schooling I can yet pray I am following God's direction. Part of me still wants to be a Youth Pastor. 

Oh, and my BS is from Liberty and I will most likely stay there for my Masters unless I decide I need more than the 36 hours if so I will be looking at Dallas Theological Seminary.  

Shane, you might consider mixing it up. Liberty is a Baptist (Bible Baptist I think) school so you might consider another denomination (like Knox or a non-denominational school) for your Masters. This could potentially open more doors for you later. Since your in the Military and attending Liberty I assume your doing your degrees online. Many of the seminaries now have that option though they will likely require more than 36 hours for a degree. Just something to think about.

Posts 947
Everett Headley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 2:06 PM

My post went missing so here is the summary

  1. Liberty is Southern Baptist.
  2. Don't move outside of your denominational/theological lines for grad work.  It will be what you are determined by in the future.  ie.  He went there...so he probably...
  3. Don't settle for less.  Do the full 90+ MDiv.  You will need it if you ever decided to go back in the service as a chaplain.  (a road I have walked)
  4. Do the best you can with the time and money you have.  You wouldn't want a cheap rifle when you go to the battle field.

Posts 8049
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:16 PM

How about a "Practical Degree" - Meaning, get to work evangelizing lost souls and preaching the Bible instead of wasting time and money getting a degree.  It's a real shame churches have secularized themselves too much to the point of not hiring someone "if they don't have a degree." What are you looking to make? More money?

DAL Angel

Ps. Ask the first century Christians what degree they went for and they'll ask you: "What's a degree?" LOL

Posts 18
Shane Atkinson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:20 PM

Oh trust me Dal I agree here with your statement. I knew when I went for my BS in Religion I wasn't after money. However, sad to say I like taking classes. I have 5 more years to take classes while in the Army and they will pay for most of it. So I thought I'd utilize my benefits and study what I enjoy. 

I have a buddy, best youth pastor I have ever met. No degree, and now he is struggling to find a ministry after returning from Europe where he served with no degree and did a great job. So yes, I agree I wish more would look at a persons heart and not their education.  

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:24 PM

Kent:
Liberty is a Baptist (Bible Baptist I think) school

Everett Headley:
Liberty is Southern Baptist.

Liberty is an independent Baptist University, officially unaffiliated with any denomination or outside organization. It was founded by Jerry Falwell, an independent Baptist.

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Posts 8049
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:27 PM

Shane Atkinson:

Oh trust me Dal I agree here with your statement. I knew when I went for my BS in Religion I wasn't after money. However, sad to say I like taking classes. I have 5 more years to take classes while in the Army and they will pay for most of it. So I thought I'd utilize my benefits and study what I enjoy. 

I have a buddy, best youth pastor I have ever met. No degree, and now he is struggling to find a ministry after returning from Europe where he served with no degree and did a great job. So yes, I agree I wish more would look at a persons heart and not their education.  

Thanks for your mature response! It's greatly appreciated.  Here's my suggestion (since the Army is paying): Why not get another degree on some short career for you to have under your belt in case it becomes hard to find a "Preaching" job.  When the economy hit, a lot of us preachers had to either find support from other churches who would be willing to help or join "the work force" (secular job) and still continue to help the church.  Trust me, having something else extra under your belt may save your ministry from losing a good man and your family from starvation.  It'll also keep bill collector's out of sight.  I strongly believe a preacher should know other "professions" so he can support himself and his family in times of need (bad economy).

DAL

Posts 1104
EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:41 PM

Shane Atkinson:

However, sad to say I like taking classes.

That's a great reason to do it. I'm not a preacher, and have no plans to take a paid position with a church. I've been blessed with a solid professional career, unrelated to ministry, of more than thirty years. When my kids finished their college studies, I took the opportunity to enroll in an on-line MA program offered by an accredited seminary. I've always wanted to go back to school, just because I love to learn and there are more things that I want to know and understand. It's been everything I hoped it would be. Pick the program that's right for your and your ministry; I did a lot of research to find a program that made sense for me in my particular situation. I'm sure it will benefit the churches you serve in the future. But whether you go into ministry or not, if my experience is any guide, it will benefit you.

Posts 18
Shane Atkinson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:45 PM

David Thomas:

most of the <60 hour programs include very little (nothing) nothing of the Biblical Languages.

Honestly what keeps me away from the M. Div mentally is I am scared of Hebrew/Greek text. I cross reference the language in Logos, but I am not so sure I can study it. 

Posts 932
Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 3:48 PM

Shane Atkinson:

David Thomas:

most of the <60 hour programs include very little (nothing) nothing of the Biblical Languages.

Honestly what keeps me away from the M. Div mentally is I am scared of Hebrew/Greek text. I cross reference the language in Logos, but I am not so sure I can study it. 

If you are diligent, you can learn the languages. Liberty, anyway, has an English Bible track. One of the best things an introduction to the languages can teach you is humility. Too many pulpits are filled by "Strong's Scholars" who say all sorts of fascinating things they think they know.

Posts 947
Everett Headley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 4:19 PM

Liberty is strongly linked with the SBC and it's culture and academia.  See link below for a start.  

As for saying a the church is secularization and that the first century had no degree, those are both half truths.  Paul took years after his conversion to prepare.  Jesus waited til he was 30 for public ministry.  A piece of paper does not make a good pastor.  But a degree will give you tools and sharpen others that you otherwise would not.

Posts 406
Danny Parker | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 28 2015 4:34 PM

I know this is off point, but concerning Liberty:

While the school originated from Independent Baptist roots with Jerry Fallwell and his church, both the church and the school are now associated with Southern Baptists.

In 1999 the school entered an agreement with SBC, (from the SBC Baptist Standard) "Although the agreement does not convey any financial support to the university, it does link the school as an affiliate of a state Baptist convention recognized by the SBC, as close as any college or university can get to being an SBC school. The SBC, as a national convention, owns no colleges or universities, only seminaries." Thus they are not 'owned' by SBC like the seminaries, but they are linked in a manner similar to Baylor University.

For what it is worth. :)

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