Should You Attend a Seminary Master of Divinity Program?


Attending Seminary is a Big Decision

Has God called you into the ministry and you are asking yourself if you should study for your Master of Divinity?  This is a question that is asked by Christians all over the world. Seminary takes time, commitment and money. 

A seminary education is not cheap.  The average cost of a Master of Divinity degree program is around $30,000 to $75,000.  This is a hefty price to pay for a degree that will often only pay between $10,000 and $50,000 per year. 

Yes, many churches and Christian denominations will give you and your family room and board.  However, you will often be required to work long hours and listen to a board of directors known as a vestry. 

The short answer to this question is, yes, you will need to study for your Master of Divinity if you want to work in today’s modern Christian church. Almost every Christian church demands some type of divinity program before employing you as a pastor.  Even church musicians are often required to have their master’s in music before gaining employment. 

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.  Are there many pastors in the world today working for churches that don’t have their divinity degree?  Yes of course there are.

However, most of these churches are founded independently and have other requirements that are often required.  Some independent churches will require you to have 10 or more years of experience preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ before hiring you as a pastor.

These churches are often individualized and not structured like the Roman Catholic Church, Baptist or Episcopal churches. If you lose your job at one of these churches, it might be nearly impossible to find another church that will hire you because you don’t have your Master of Divinity degree. 

What Are Some of the Most Popular Places to Study for Your Master of Divinity?

  • Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Union Theological Seminary
  • Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Friends Seminary
  • Denver Seminary
  • Western Seminary
  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  •  

Seminary school is a place where you can discern your calling to serving God.  It is a place where you study information and knowledge into Christianity.  You are also guided by instructors that are pastors and can inform you on how to be a pastor in the church. 

Seminarians also enjoy being able to worship God the father in a structured setting.  You will also be able to meet other students that want to become pastors as well.  It’s important for you to use your time wisely in seminary. 

A master’s degree program takes three years to complete.  You will need around 90 college credits to complete the program. If you are concerned about getting a job after graduation, the U.S. military is often short of pastors and have job openings. 

Of course, you will be required to join the military.  The last time that I looked, a person can become a military chaplain up until the age of 35.  In the reserves, it often extended to age 47.   

Can You Get a Job as a Pastor Without a Master of Divinity Degree?

Getting a job today in many mainline churches is almost impossible.  Nearly every church requires you to have a Master of Divinity degree.  Some churches do accept bachelor’s degrees if they have a focus on ministry, but its not common. 

It is true that a master’s degree takes both time and money. However, can you blame churches today for requiring this degree?  After all, Christianity is a 2,000-year-old religion with a lot of history. 

You need to testify to people about the Christian faith.  Many people are master’s in philosophy, other religions, agnostic and atheist.  Can you defend the gospel of Jesus Christ against someone considering converting to Christianity? 

In a Master of Divinity program, you will learn about Greek, Hebrew, the apostles and many of the early teachings of the church. You will also learn how to oversee a church. Being a pastor today is more than just preaching the gospel. 

The pastor is the person in charge of the flock. You need to find the proper staff for the music and youth program.  Having the right secretary and ministry staff is important. 

The pastor must also have a knowledge of bookkeeping since they will be responsible for the collection of tithes and offerings to the church. You may find yourself working long hours because of the needs of the parishioners inside of the church. 

Pastors are also expected and often required to do pastoral counseling, marriages, funerals and much more.  If the church building needs maintenance, you will need to know how to get the right person for the job.  It’s important to ask yourself what you are wiling to do in order to meet the demands of the church. 

You will also be the boss of assistant pastors that are working under you.  They will look up to you for advice, direction and wisdom.  Besides having a master’s degree in divinity from a seminary, you will need to show that you have good character.  People are often shocked to learn that their character is not good enough for a church to want to hire you.

Remember, your resume will be looked through with a fine-tooth comb by the board before hiring you.  You will be up against many men and women looking for the job as a pastor. 

The hiring board will want to know more about you as a person.  They may ask questions like:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Do you believe that you are called to pastor a church?
  • Do you enjoy working with families?
  • Do you enjoy counseling children and families?
  • Do you have any criminal background? 

The church board may ask you which seminary you attended and why. The reason for this is they want to understand how your reasoning works.  They want to know if you are just looking for a job or if you truly feel called by Jesus to serve the church as a pastor?  This is something that a lot of pastors are being asked today because of the deception that is in the world today amongst seminary graduates. 

Believe it or not, many people stop believing in Jesus and still want the job as a pastor because they need a job and have no other job skills.  The Master of Divinity degree takes three years to complete beyond the bachelor’s degree. This means that a person needs to spend 7 years in school before graduating. Most seminaries require you to complete an internship as a deacon before ordaining you to a pastor. 

As you can see, becoming a pastor is a lot of hard work and you are constantly being screened.  Everyone that you meet wants to know if you are qualified to lead a church and if you have what it takes to be a true leader. 

Do Some Churches Help Pastors to Pay Back Their Tuition? 

Yes, some churches like the Roman Catholic Church does assist their pastors with paying back their school loans and other debts.  Not every church has payment back assistance. You will have to check with the diocese to learn more about a payment program. 

If you become a chaplain in the U.S. military, they often have a tuition pay back program if you have already completed your college degree. If you are still working on your degree, it is possible that the U.S. military will pay your tuition while you study to become a pastor. Once you graduate, you will be required to either serve in the reserves or active duty.  However, with tuition rates as running as high as they are right now, it might be worth looking into. 

Above All, What Do You Feel God is Calling You Into?

If you had to put money aside, what do you believe Jesus is communicating to you. If you feel a calling to be a pastor, it is a good idea to go to seminary.  If the Lord is truly calling you, he will provide ways in which you can pay your student loans back after graduation. 

It’s important to not let money stand in the way of you and following your calling.  Your spirit will not be able to rest until you have found what the Lord has called you to do.  Praise God that we have a savior that gives us what we need daily. 

It’s important to discuss your dreams with your family and ask them if they could help you in some way financially.  In return, you will be happy to know that someone in your family may have a resource that you could use to help fund your education and help pay for books and tuition. 

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