We welcome all of our visitors back to Guide to Seminary! Due to mostly technical issues our site was down for much of this summer. Fortunately that has been resolved and we are back in business. Be on the lookout for some key updates in the next couple of months as we work towards our 9 year anniversary in October.
Thank you all for your emails and kind words about Guide to Seminary and for your support through the years!
From a Student's Point of View
by Mark Stevens
I've been through a couple of modules as a student and I love concept. Usually it's an intense weekend, or an intense 5-day week, in which you experience an entire course (normally a 3 credit hour course). It's great because you are just focusing on that class and nothing else. Sometimes being able to do that instead of balancing one class among several others works out better for students. The downside of course is that it is a lot of info in a short amount of time. It's long days and often reading and/or writing at night. A lot of times the professor will set the due date for the research paper after the module is over, giving you a little room to breathe during the module.
From a Professor's Point of View: How to Design Your Course
by Greg Moore
From an instructor's point of view, teaching a module was not something I was looking forward to. My first module was a Monday to Friday, 8AM-5PM course on Baptist History. While much of my semester-long class transitions fine into a module format, not all of it did. I had to rethink course projects and assignments, but in the end it was very comparable to the semester-long class, just jammed into a week.
For the upcoming spring semester I'll be teaching a class in church history. The course as you can imagine covers multiple centuries and a lot of info. What I've decided to do in that particular class is to use an excellent textbook that covers the details, use my lecture times to highlight the key parts and explain things that weren't covered in the textbook, and then set aside significant portions of the class time for research. Research and writing, for me, has been a key part of how I learn and I enjoy teaching others how to research and write well in the fields of theology and history. So, part of this module will be used to walk these upper-level undergraduate students through the process of producing and presenting original research. This division between lecture time, discussion, and guided research produces a module that is still challenging and tiring, but is able to keep the students engaged for longer periods (as opposed to teaching to zombies by mid-day Thursday).
Those are just our thoughts. Mark and I would love to hear from others that have experienced modules as a student or instructor.
Written by Mark Stevens
Twice a year the Seminary and Christian College Guide reviews and adds institutions that have been suggested by the visitors to our site. With that in mind, we would love for you to suggest any schools that you'd like to see added. Here are the basic criteria to be added:
That's basically it. All of the schools listed are ones that have been suggested in the past, so we look forward to hearing from you with additions to the list.
Comment below to suggest a school!
This is an article by writer, and former seminary student, Mark Stevens.
College students are notorious for being poor. That's usually because . . . well, because college students usually are poor. I recently looked around to find how college and seminary students are making money. Here are three innovative ways to make a little extra money (and fourth not-so-innovative way):
Fiverr is a crowdsourcing website (and app). You can either request services or offer services. Each service is $5. Some people do voice-overs, some do graphic design, and others do a host of useful (or just weird) jobs. If you go this route make certain you have a product or talent that you can showcase well in a video and accompanying description. Finding people face to face to use your service via Fiverr and then review you is a good way to get a jump start (otherwise folks may be leery of you). Check out their website HERE.
Amazon Mechanical Turk
Amazon Mechanical Turk sounds like some type of trans-continental robot. However, it's actually a crowdsourcing website that allows business to pay people to do small, menial jobs that robots can't do. They are basically giving you money to do really boring things that we wish robots could do because they can't be bored to death. The good thing is that you can pick what you want to do and potentially could put in a lot of hours here. The bad news is that the pay rate is not great. However, when you need money, this is certainly one avenue to check. You can visit their website HERE.
Trading in human organs is usually frowned upon. However, your blood is apparently fair game. You can sell your plasma (which is in your blood). Unlike donating blood, donating plasma doesn't deplete your level of blood and so it doesn't have the "woozy" effect that sometimes accompanies the latter. You can donate twice a week and make anywhere from $20-45 per trip. The amount really depends on where you are and the demand. Given as this usually take around an hour (maybe a little more), this probably will have the best pay rate for your time compared with the previous methods mentioned.
The Great Moneymaker
Without a doubt, the best way to make money in college is to have a job - whether that's full-time or part-time. You probably won't be doing your dream job or have your ideal hours. However, it is a steady stream of income that can be budgeted. Being a hard worker and reliable will also pay off in the long run. This may be through them offering you a better paid position, or, most likely, in them writing a good reference letter in the future.
One of the classes I am taking this summer is on Ancient Greek Civilization. It's been a great class so far with some interesting reading. Last week I had to turn in a paper concerning how best to use the Greek historian Herodotus as a source.
If you're not familiar with him Herodotus mainly concerning the history of the Persian Wars in ancient Greece. In addition to that he has some great stories from the various Greek poleis that he visits or hears second-hand. There are critical editions of the text that you can buy, but I found that the Perseus Project's version are good and provide you both with a couple English translations as well as the Greek text. What is really nice if you're doing higher-level research is that Perseus allows you to click on a Greek word and it takes you to a Lexicon entry for that word. What really comes in handy is that the lexicon can show you other places that the word is used in any other Greek literature. For example, I was making a point in my paper concerning Herodotus' ideas of democracy and tyranny. I was able to them compare a particular word he used and see that Thucydides used the same word in a passage on tyranny, but used it in a slightly different way. It was a great comparison that would have been very difficult without the Perseus Project's cross-referencing ability. If you haven't read Herodotus, it's an interesting read. Just get a good translation. Some of the older ones try to make it sound like Herodotus was from Elizabethan England. Also, if you're doing any research in ancient history the Perseus Project from Tufts University is a good place to go for primary source material.
This summer I have a stack of books I'm going through. I have to read several on historical research methods and several on ancient Greek civilization. The more interesting ones I'll bring up here on the blog. The first book I'm going to mention though is from my "want to read" pile and not my "have to read pile." It's a new release from John Wiley. John is a former student of mine. I had him in a early church history class a couple of years back. So, it's really exciting to see him write a short piece for Kindle on the early church. This e-book consists of biographies of key early church leaders. He focuses on Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Perpetua & Felicity, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers (& Mother), and Augustine.
For a biographical piece I was a little surprised he delved into the texts of these leaders as much as he did. It was really nice to see that. So often, especially in textbooks or even biographical pieces, the real meat is skipped over or dealt with in such a sanitary way that you don't capture the essence of the person or their writing being discussed. Wiley is able to make each of these sketches personable.
It's also a practical book, as Wiley jots down after each bio a brief "church history tip." There is a lot of things we often get confused with if we do a survey of church history (people with similar names, what each leader was best known for, etc.). In these tips, Wiley often gives a brief way for us to remember little things like that. He also includes a separate paper as an appendix to the work in which he traces the rise of single bishop leadership in the church's first several centuries. That obviously has immediate application in how we think about church polity in our time.
As I write this, "The Early Church" is free on the Amazon Kindle bookstore. You can follow this link to get to it. What is really interesting to me is that he is planning two more short biographical works - one on key Reformers and one on Dispensationalists (which I can't think of another accessible work that deals with that particular topic.) Keep these on your radar!
This was written by Greg Moore. You can find more about John Wiley at his blog.
One trend that is on the rise, at least anecdotally, is students that are interested in ministry pursuing a graduate degree in social work instead of ministry or theological studies. For those that don't know, the field of Social Work encompasses a wide range of skills that usually deal with improving the quality of life of people. This can be done through crisis intervention, participation in social programs, fighting hunger, or addressing social injustice. The ones that I've known that have gone this route fall into the following three categories:
1. They Are not traditional Church Leaders
Folks that I've known that have gone this route aren't the ones that are called to be senior pastors or some full-time position in a local church. These are ones that for a while didn't know exactly what God was calling them to (mostly because their spiritual mentors hadn't heard of this route). They are ones that are usually drawn to the humanitarian-aid side of ministry.
2. They are not afraid of being labeled
Conservative Christianity utterly failed in the last half of the 20th century in reaching others through social programs, like soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other related programs. Many groups saw more liberal denominations doing these as part of a 'social gospel' strategy. Well - they were right. Social work isn't the good news of Christ's redeeming work. However, in the last 10 years theologically conservatives have been entering the social work arena with a correct view of the gospel plus a desire to help those that are in most need in our society. This sometimes mean that some in the church have hurled "churchy insults" at them or tried to dismiss them as being a proponent of the "social gospel" philosophy.
3. They have a Different Idea of 'Mission'
In addition to this, the ones that I've known that have gone this route have a different idea of 'missions' than I grew up with (but one I'm trying to emulate). I was always taught that missions happened in places - sometimes here but mostly overseas. We even had a sticker above our church doors as we went out that said "You are now entering the mission field." As I read the New Testament and as I see those around me that are being effective witnesses, I realize more and more that 'missions' is our entire life. It's wherever we are and we often don't think about the gospel throughout the day because we are not in the mindset that wherever we are is where we need to be sharing. This concept of course isn't limited to those going into social work, but it does seem to be a common hallmark of those that are.
Why a MSW Degree?
For those that are called to ministry and evangelism through social work, a Masters in Social Work could help you towards that goal. Another reason to go this route is that it is a very marketable degree that can support you as you're planting a church or helping in other types of ministry. Non-profits, which are being increasingly used in evangelism, also need people with this type of advanced training to help run their programs.
When this website started in 2008, one thing that we wanted to offer was a way for readers to ask questions. Too often, especially when it comes to education, we have specific questions that don't have readily available answers online. Our "Comments" section has provided a good outlet to ask these questions since the beginning. We have just started a Forum that will take the Q&A to a new level and encourage others to join in. Keep in mind this is in its infancy so any suggestions or comments you have about the forum setup would be appreciated.
Questions from the Readers: What is the purpose of the Th.M. degree? Do I need a Th.M. degree to begin Ph.D. work?
These two questions were sent in concerning the Th.M. degree. Greg Moore answers.
Q: I am looking into masters degree in theology and saw the Master of Theology (ThM) at several seminaries. They said that you had have a masters to get into the program. Why would someone do another masters after already completing one in the same field?
Q: I am planning to get a PhD in Biblical Studies and the seminary I am looking at wants me to do a ThM first. Is this normal? I already have a MDiv!
A: Theology is such a strange academic field sometimes. This really stems from the fact that for centuries one of the key purposes of a university was to train clergy. Because the field has existed so long in so many countries, both in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere, we now have an odd mix of degrees that is particular to our field of study. One of these is the Master of Theology degree. While in Europe this degree is often similar in scope to a Master of Arts, in the United States it is a different thing altogether. Concerning the first question as to the purpose of the degree, it is for someone to have a concentrated study in a particular area. This study is usually a mix of masters and doctoral-level seminars with a thesis. The idea here is that it will prepare one for teaching in a particular area (which is not the goal of a typical M.Div. program) and better prepares one for a Ph.D. (which is also not the goal of a typical M.Div. program).
The next question is "Do I need it to start Ph.D. work?" Not usually. In just about any other academic field you would do a bachelor's degree, a master of arts degree (or equivalent), and then go into a Ph.D. program. Seminaries in the U.S. have been designed so that students get a liberal arts background somewhere else and then come there for theological training. This led to the 3 year Master of Divinity programs that are the standard now. The Master of Divinity is a practical degree, meaning that it isn't designed to be a research-based, academic degree. Now, though, many are looking to go from M.Div. into Th.D. or Ph.D. programs. Because of that, seminaries now offer the Th.M. degrees as sort of a preparation degree for the doctoral programs. Normally, you'd be able to get time off of your doctoral program if you have a Th.M., so that is one benefit. The other benefit is that it can be a good qualification for teaching on the undergraduate level and the thesis provides you with great research experience.
There's always a disclaimer for this kind of thing, so here is mine. Dallas Theological Seminary's Th.M. is not like the one above. It is a four year degree done after your undergraduate degree. It is basically a combination of the M.Div. and the type of Th.M. I just described. I'll also say that some seminaries really push their M.Div. program and as a result push everyone that is interested in a Ph.D. or Th.D. into a Th.M. program first. That is likely the situation the student that asked the second question is in.
This question was recently posed to us and Greg Moore answers it:
Q: I am fairly far along in my bachelors degree but have decided not to go into the field that I'm training for. I want to do a theological degree, but I'm currently majoring in business. If I switch to a theological degree I'll lose most of my credits and if I transfer it'll almost be like starting over. Should I just finish this degree or switch to what I think the Lord wants be to do?
A: Great question. In most cases, if you're past your sophomore year, you'd probably be better off finishing the degree and then going for a masters. A masters in a theological field will take you 1 1/2 to 2 years if you're doing a Master of Arts. However, not having a background in Bible or Theology, I'd recommend you do a Master of Divinity degree, which is 3 years of full-time study. Still, though, you'd come out better as you'd have a masters by the end of it and it wouldn't be such a morale drainer (starting at the beginning would be quite depressing I'm sure).
This would be true if it was the other way around too - if you were doing theology and wanted to go into business. In that case, you would finish your Bible or Theology degree and go into a Master of Business Administration degree (a longer-than-average professional degree like the M.Div.). I've known plenty that have done both. I'd also say that many pastors I've spoken with realize that they don't know as much about the management of a non-profit organization (ie. their church) as they need to - especially in the beginning of their ministry. I think finishing the one and then going to the other on a masters-level will actually be beneficial to your future ministry and perhaps even open some job opportunities while you do your M.Div.
Mark Stevens is a former seminary student himself and currently researches and teaches in the area of theological studies.