This week I went back to school. I have started a Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary. I will be taking classes while staying in ministry over 4-5 years. A couple of these classes will be online, but most will be 1 week classes – with lots of reading ahead of time and lots of writing after. Fuller makes it really easy (and powerful) to have education done while serving in ministry.
But why go back to school? This is the question I get most often from people (or I can see it in their faces!). I was talking to my kids this week about going back to school, and they asked when I was done if I would be a “doctor”. I said, “Yes, but not a medical doctor…and you will have to call me Doctor Dad for the rest of your life.” They laughed at that, and then I told them I wasn’t joking. And then we laughed more. Then they asked me the question – why do you want to go back to school? I told them it was because I love learning, and I want to become a better pastor. I think that becoming a better person and pastor doesn’t just happen – when I get around people who have really thought about these things, it helps me think about the big picture, and grow, and change.
Adults have asked me the same question – why go back to school? I already have a 4 year Masters Degree, I am already ordained – is this somehow a “higher” degree? A Doctor of Ministry is higher than a Master’s of Divinity, but not higher than being ordained – I consider ordination my highest “degree”, recognized by the denomination and local church, and a calling from the Lord to serve Him with my entire life. (This is why people have “Reverend” before “Doctor” in their official titles.) I am not going back to school for a higher “title” – I want the learning more than the title “doctor” – and no, you don’t have to call me that when I am done. I am not going back to school to try to get a better job – I LOVE church planting, love Covenant Grove, and even love Modesto (really!). I am going back to school to grow – because I have so much learning to do, and I have a long way to go to be the pastor God wants me to be. So pray for me, and for my family, and for our church as we continue to raise up leaders and together do the work God has called us to.
AND – consider the importance of formal theological education. Every week we have biblical and theological learning – we call it a sermon! We read the Bible and hear devotions – that is education. Your mind is a gift from God, and it is great to grow more and more in His knowledge. Consider taking a seminary class, or a college level Bible class. It is hard and takes a lot of time; it costs money – but it is worth it. Your mind will grow, your faith will grow, you will be stretched, and you will want to share what you have learned.
Thank you for your support as I head back to school, and as we grow closer to Christ together!