We often tell our children that education is important. Statistics confirm that those with a college degree will typically earn more money over their lifetime, advance more rapidly through the ranks of their profession, and enjoy greater job security.
As a fourth-generation minister in the Church of God of Prophecy, I understand none of these are necessarily true when encouraging our leaders to pursue theological education. A degree will not necessarily lead to an increase in salary, career advancement, or job security. So why would one pursue theological education?
For the Stewardship of Our Talents (Matthew 25:29)
In the parable of Matthew 25, Jesus speaks about a master giving his servants talents of money which they are to invest wisely while the master is away on a long journey. The servants are given different amounts – one was given five talents, another two and another just one talent.
The first two invested wisely and increased what they had been given. They received praise by the master when he returned. The servant who did not invest the talent he had been given was chastised. His talent was taken from him and given to the servant who had ten.
The amount of talent we are given is not important, but rather how we steward and use those gifts.
God has placed talents within you to build up the body of Christ. When we as individual believers share our gifts with others, all of us are enriched, God’s work goes forward powerfully, and the church becomes effective and relevant.
It can be amazing to watch ministers who have invested time and resource into theological training. When this training finally matches up with the anointing of God on their life, a depth and understanding is developed that often visibly enriches their ministry.
For the Pursuit of Excellence in Ministry (Ephesians 4:1)
We are thankful for the faithful ministers of the Church of God of Prophecy. Many labor under incredible difficulty and limited resources, but they remain faithful. But if we were being honest, we might recognize areas where the church has a lower standard than the world when it comes to preparation.
If we needed a major surgery, who would we want to perform it? The intern that’s just starting his clinical internship? No. You and I would want the most prepared surgeon with experience that we could find.
So why would we expect less of those who stand behind the pulpits of our congregations, teaching the Word of God and leading the people of God?
We must get past the point of mediocrity being alright for the church. We must have a passion for excellence and as leaders we should model that for our people. While education does not guarantee excellence in ministry, it certainly can help by providing the tools and resources that equip us in this pursuit.
For Honesty and Rigor in Our Thinking (2Timothy 2:15)
You have a worldview. A worldview is the lens through which you evaluate the world around you. It governs how you live, defines why you live, what you live for, what you appreciate, what you reject, what you are passionate about, and what you detest. It frames why you believe what you believe.
Your worldview is shaped by many factors, but for the Christian leader the Bible should inform this worldview. Theological education can be an important factor in the development of a Biblical worldview, forming one that is accurate, thoughtful, and honest.
For the Equipping of the People of God for Participation in the Mission of God (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Ultimately, theological education really isn’t about the student at all.
No, the final recipients of theological education are the church at large. As ministers are equipped and trained, they are enabled to have even greater effect in equipping the people of God for participation in the mission of God, which is our ultimate goal.
Accredited Ministry Development is serving the Church by providing opportunities for leaders and ministers to receive quality education that leads to certification, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. AMD invites you to learn more about these opportunities at our website www.cogopamd.org.