This article is by Austin McCann. Austin just finished his B.A. at Piedmont International University. He is currently working on his Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary while starting in full-time student ministry. You can find more of Austin’s thoughts on his website.
One of the things I considered when planning for seminary was: am I going to do it full-time on campus or would I do it part-time, and maybe even full-time, online as I work in vocational ministry. I knew the latter would be hard and require discipline, but I wanted to get my feet wet in vocational ministry and didn’t want to wait for a few years while I was on campus as a seminary students. So I decided to do seminary online while pursing vocational ministry at a local church.
I’m only four classes into seminary, so by no means am I an expert at this yet, but I have been learning a few things about how to balance my seminary work with my ministry work. It’s a delicate balance that requires discipline and hard work. Here are a few things that have helped me with this balancing act that may be a help to you if your in the same place I am.
Take a day off to focus 100% on seminary. This has been the biggest help to me so far in this journey. Taking a day off during the week, for me Mondays, and focusing just on my seminary work is a great way to stay on top of your seminary work while staying busy in the ministry world. Find the weekday that works best for you, and stick with it. Don’t schedule any meetings or do any ministry work, find a quite place and work on your seminary stuff. Your ministry stuff will be waiting for you tomorrow, no worries!
Get ahead on your seminary work. Another way to balance seminary and ministry is to get ahead on whatever class work you can. On that day off, get extra reading done and get started on the next paper. Don’t wait until the week something is due to work on that assignment. Stay a week ahead. This will help you focus on your ministry work without feeling like your falling behind in your classes.
Don’t take too many classes. One of the biggest reasons people struggle with balancing seminary and ministry is because they take way too many classes. If you feel like God has called you to do vocational ministry while in seminary, make sure your giving yourself enough time to serve Him well in your ministry. Take a few classes so you stay on track with your program, but don’t overload yourself. Ministry seasons where it’s really busy, like summer for me since I am in youth ministry, take only one or two classes. When there is a season in ministry that you may have more free time, take a few more classes. Be wise and use discernment when planning your classes.
These are just three of the many ways I am learning how to balance seminary and ministry. In our culture, we are blessed with online education so we can serve God in vocational ministry while we do seminary. But remember, we need to be wise with our time so continue figuring out how you can balance seminary with your ministry.
B.A. in Christian Ministry with Pastoral Studies & Student Ministry Minors: A Former Student's Perpective
This student perspective is the second from Austin McCann. The last one concerned his current graduate work, this one concerns his undergraduate program. Austin just finished his B.A. at Piedmont International University. He is currently working on his Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary while starting in full-time student ministry. You can find more of Austin’s thoughts on his website. Here are his thoughts on his undergrad program:
"Recently I just finished my BA at Piedmont International University. At Piedmont, I studied Christian Ministries. At Piedmont, like most colleges and university, allow you to pick a minor or two. I decided to do two minors with my BA. My two minors where student ministries and pastoral studies.
Many people have wondered why I chose to study student ministries and pastoral studies. Most people assume if your wanting to be a youth pastor than just study student ministries or if your wanting to be a senior pastor why not just do pastoral studies. I decided to do both for one main reason: a youth pastor should be just as educated and well trained as a senior pastor. Just because you work with students does not mean you should not know how to preach and do pastoral duties. I believe a youth pastor should be just as skilled at preaching the Bible as a senior pastor. A youth pastor is a pastor and should be just as serious about ministry, the church, and the Bible as the senior pastor.
There are several reasons other reasons I chose to do two minors that have nothing to do with my view of youth pastors and how they should be trained. First, two minors allows you to study another area of ministry that you may want to do later on down the road. I am not sure if God will keep me as a youth pastor my whole life. I would love to one day be a senior pastor or church planter and because I have studied pastoral studies I feel more prepared to pursue that one day. Second, two minors allow you to take some classes that may interest you that are not in your first minor. There where a few classes in the pastoral studies minor that where not in the student ministries one I really wanted to take. I was able to take more classes with two minors and was able to get ones that I really wanted outside my first minor. Third, two minors allow you to gain skills in another area outside your vocation that may come in handy. For example, I took expository preaching and was honored to receive the expository preaching award that year. I learned and gained the skill of expository preaching because I chose to do a pastoral studies minor along with my student ministries one. Having that skill allows me to be a better preacher and teacher in the area of my vocation-student ministries.
I hope this has helped you if you are wondering how many minors you should take on. If your school allows you to, I would recommend you take two. It may seem like adding two much to your load, but it will be worth it."
Mark Stevens is a former seminary student himself and currently researches and teaches in the area of theological studies.