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by Stephen Hebert on Saturday - 12 May 2007

in Ministry » Blog Archive » So, you’re thinking of being a pastor?

Joe Thorn, of the aptly named, has an interesting post about what I would call the nuts and bolts of the ministry discernment process. His list of considerations includes:

  1. Don’t.
  2. Go to a liberal arts college.
  3. Get the best theological and ministry training possible.
  4. Check with your wife.
  5. Check with your church.
  6. Determine your calling.
  7. Pray.
  8. Talk to pastors you respect.
  9. Read. A lot.
  10. Get real.

I’d like to specifically address #2: “Go to a liberal arts college.” Here’s what Joe says:

If you are young and thinking Bible College vs the University, I’d encourage you to get your undergraduate degree at a liberal arts college – especially if you plan on attending seminary afterward. Pursue a degree in something that will assist you in the ministry. This can be anything from history, to art, to journalism. I say this as a guy who went to Bible College and enjoyed his time there. It was not the wrong decision, but there is a lot of repeat if you go from Bible College to seminary. I believe the university route can provide a more well rounded education.

I think there’s quite a bit of wisdom in this. In my own experience it’s true. I studied the New Testament with a historical perspective while at the University of Texas. When I went to Harvard, I ended up doing the same thing. There was a lot of overlap. Had I studied something slightly different at UT, then my time at Harvard would have been more difficult, but it also might have been more rewarding.

Now, in the end, I think I did all right. I have an intense background in the history of Christianity and Judaism from 250 BC(E) to 300 AD/CE [I wish not to get into a debate over anno domini and “common era” at this time…though that may be fodder for a future post]. As I’ve conducted Bible studies here in Houston, I’ve found that most people really appreciate that historical context. However, I might have been able to conduct a more well-rounded study if my focus at UT had been theology, or history of religion in the United States or something like that.

While Joe’s post is targeted directly at pastors-to-be, I see no reason why most of those suggestions wouldn’t pertain to most anyone interested in pursuing a career that requires a graduate degree.

Thanks, Joe. And thanks to Sherman Haywood Cox II over at for pointing me to Joe’s blog.

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