5 Excuses for NOT Going to Graduate School
I remember vividly sitting in class during my graduate program wondering if what I was learning that day would have any benefit for the student Bible study I was teaching that night. The subtle arguments for a particular view of the end times may not have made it into that evening’s study. However, I’m thankful I persevered.
I’m writing to encourage you to pursue such rigorous study. I want to debunk some excuses that I have considered at one time or another for not pursuing graduate work. Perhaps you are, too.
“I don’t need graduate school, because …
“I just want to teach my youth the Gospel.”
Without a doubt! The best protection for our students’ faith is a carefully developed understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But like you, I’ve heard the alarming statistics today of the number of youth who reject the faith, leave the church, and even deny the existence of God.
Youth ministers are tasked with a profound challenge of coming alongside parents in the training of the church’s young people. With the growing importance of understanding how to help these students think about their faith properly and defend it, the need for well-educated youth ministers has never been greater.
I have the privilege of teachings hundreds of college students each year from a wide variety of disciplines. My goal is to help them understand the full-orbed Gospel that pervades Scripture from beginning to end. This profound understanding of the Scriptures will set them firmly in the truths of Scripture throughout their life.
It is incumbent upon today’s youth ministers to prepare students to think comprehensively about their faith. Such an approach is worldview shaping in our lives and theirs. These are skills that I learned in my graduate studies. Graduate studies enhance your effectiveness in this.
“I will lose touch with my students.”
Granted … if you start your Bible study with lengthy quotes from Jonathan Edwards because that’s what your theology professor did, you may not be doing it right. However, having a deep well from which to draw doesn’t stifle your creative juices; it guides them.
The youth minister who understands the end goals toward which the pastors are shepherding its sheep most effectively uses those inherent talents and gifts that God has given when drawing from a richly equipped tool belt. And although those tools can be acquired over time during ministry practice, graduate school provides a concentrated time of intentional equipping.
I have the privilege of teaching middle school Sunday School at my church on a regular basis. And although I don’t teach them the subtleties of the Hebrew verbal system, which I might have been studying that week, I’m thankful on a regular basis for the foundation of graduate studies that have equipped me to comb through the Old Testament and help these students understand why these texts are life-changing for them.
“I’ll just learn as I go.”
You will never be able to take your youth beyond where you have been. Apologetics, biblical theology, the nature of the church. These and many more are all things that young men and women need to understand. The accountability of the classroom will force you to think deeply about these issues.
Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent distract you from pursuing the biblical, theological, and ministerial skills that will anchor your student ministry. Even more, as noble as our New Year’s resolutions are, there is no replacement for learning from those who have refined their understanding of the Scriptures in the furnace of practical ministry.
“I want to minister now.”
I appreciate this in the students we have here at Cedarville University, too. They are eager to get out and minister; they wonder about whether they are just spinning their wheels before actually going out to make a difference in the world.
Here at Cedarville, recognizing the desire for a faster and less expensive path to the ministry described above, we have designed a strategic degree for such students. In 5 years, a student can complete both a B.A. in Biblical Studies as well as a Master of Divinity. Although the youth minister will be engaged in a lifetime of learning, this accelerated BA+MDiv program allows a student to complete biblical and ministry training more quickly, more efficiently, and with less expense.
“I can’t fathom leaving my ministry.”
The practicing youth minister, years removed from an undergraduate Bible program, may ask whether such a pursuit would benefit them. Absolutely! Great advantage awaits the one continues their education while remaining active in ministry. Schools have become quite creative in the way they serve their students. For example, here at Cedarville University we have designed an online, 1-year Master of Ministry with courses in Bible, contemporary theology, biblical leadership, and biblical care & counseling. With the technology of our day, the classroom has never been more accessible. It’s never too late.
Randall McKinion serves as Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs for the Cedarville University School of Biblical and Theological Studies and Associate Professor of Old Testament. He earned his Ph.D. in biblical studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and has been teaching graduate and undergraduate courses for 12 years.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.