Sometimes, the Lord tells us exactly what He wants us to do. Other times, He may give us a direction … but it’s up to us to ask questions and seek out the answers. And if you feel called to earn some kind of biblical studies degree, those questions are many.
There is so much to consider when choosing a Bible college or seminary. It can feel daunting to make this choice because it’s so instrumental to your future.
But prayerfully asking a few key questions can go a long way toward easing the natural anxiety that comes with making this major life decision. The following four personal inventory questions are an excellent place to start as you consider where to earn your biblical studies degree.
1. What do I feel called to do that a biblical studies degree will prepare me for?
This is a key question in determining what type of program you should be looking for. You may feel called to one or more of these career paths:
- Youth Ministry
- Other Ministries
These overlap, of course. As a senior pastor, you may preach on Sunday morning and teach a class during the week. But it helps to focus on a guiding vision of yourself in a future role, so you’re selecting the best program for your needs.
For example, if you envision yourself in a ministry leadership role, you will need more than a degree that focuses primarily on biblical studies. While Bible knowledge provides a firm foundation for ministry, you will also need to develop practical administrative skills.
To make sure your school of choice aligns with that vision, look at a few key aspects:
- The highest degree you can attain (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral).
- The stated goals of the program (e.g. “To prepare students for _____”).
- Recurring themes in the overall program catalog (e.g., “urban ministry”).
These criteria will give you a sense of the academic depth of the school in your focus area. Options for higher degree attainment, commitments to prepare you for a meaningful career, and shared knowledge among the faculty relevant to your goals often indicate you’re on the right track.
2. What do I want to learn in my chosen program?
This may seem like the same question as the first one above, but what you need to learn and what you want to learn aren’t always the same thing.
You’re not only drawn to a Christian college, or Seminary because it will help you get a job. There is also a deeply personal side to this kind of educational journey.
The application of knowledge goes beyond your career. Ask yourself what you hope to gain from the college experience:
- A closer relationship with God through His word
- Greater maturity as a disciple of Jesus Christ
- A deeper understanding of yourself
- A broader perspective gained from believers with different backgrounds
Learning goals like these don’t necessarily translate into the knowledge and skills you would put on a resume. But that doesn’t make them any less important.
To get an idea of whether your chosen program will address some of the personal goals you want to pursue, take a look at individual courses.
For example, the more profound value in an Old Testament concentration program shines through when you look closely at what you’ll study – the deeper meaning of the original Hebrew, the message of hope in the Psalms, the repercussions of biblical history felt today, etc.
An excellent Christian college experience is about more than paving the road to tomorrow’s career. It’s also about the joy of pressing into God today.
3. What kind of learning experience do I want?
This typically falls into two general categories: traditional vs. nontraditional.
A “traditional” college experience involves:
- Enrollment in a 2-year associate’s or 4-year bachelor’s degree program (with the option to continue)
- Starting immediately after high school
- Attending classes on campus, in-person
The traditional model is attractive to a lot of students. The idea of being a part of a campus community, experiencing dorm life, having the same “coming of age” experience college students have shared for generations can all be appealing.
But for many students, it doesn’t quite work. The responsibilities of life, your work and family, may mean the ideal college experience for you is something that would be considered “nontraditional.”
For one thing, it may not have been an option to go to college straight out of high school. If you’ve been in the workforce for a few years (or many), and you’re entering an undergraduate program, you need a nontraditional program.
It may also be the case that the traditional model of moving into a dorm or campus housing and walking to class every day might not work for you. Paying for room and board may be too expensive.
There may be benefits to a nontraditional experience that outweigh the appeal of a traditional one:
- Real-world focus. While traditional programs are often focused on what happens inside the classroom, nontraditional ones are more often focused on learning outside the community, a.k.a. the mission field. (At CCCTS, we call this “flipped learning.”)
- Fully online education. This can be far more flexible around your life than a traditional, in-person course schedule. With modern tools for remote communication, this learning style can bring together a community just as supportive and engaged as you can find offline.
If this sounds appealing, you’re not alone. It’s becoming increasingly common for today’s average college student to need a nontraditional approach to make college work.
4. What approach to theology do I identify with?
When pursuing a biblical studies degree, it’s essential to consider the way the Bible has been presented to you throughout your life. The denomination you grew up in, the church you attend today, perhaps the region you live in – these factors have a strong influence on your approach to theology.
You’ll need to consider whether the Christian college – and perhaps to an even greater extent, the seminary – you choose to attend presents a similar theological framework.
The reason to think about this isn’t to weed out “bad” theology from “good.” Instead, it’s about thinking through how you’ll fit into the “ethos,” the school’s spirit or realistic character.
- You might prefer to learn within a theological context you’re familiar with. Some students seek out colleges affiliated with their church denomination, for example.
- Or, you might want to stretch yourself by entering a new theological context to gain a broader understanding of how Christians from other traditions approach the word.
There is no “right” course of action here. That’s between you and God. What’s important is simply understanding what you’re heading into. You can save yourself some frustration or discomfort by gaining some cultural knowledge of the school you want to attend beforehand.
A good way to start is by looking at the school’s history, mission and vision statements, and any personal testimonies of graduates you can find.
For example, the CCCTS story reveals our origins in the Charlotte, NC community, our heart for urban Christian ministries, and our approach to equipping servant leaders. All of this speaks to our community ethos and touches on the theological lens through which we approach our work.
Should You Earn Your Biblical Studies Degree from Charlotte Christian College and Theological Seminary?
That’s a question it would be our pleasure to explore with you, along with all the others above.
We understand that the Lord calls His servants to study the word and get ministry training at great Christian colleges across the country and around the world. Many options are available to you.
All we ask is that you prayerfully consider whether CCCTS could be the one. We offer:
- Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral programs in Biblical Studies, Pastoral Studies, Urban Christian Ministries, Chaplaincy, and more
- Deeply committed, supportive faculty with hearts for service, the experience, and knowledge to equip you for servant leadership.
- Nontraditional, flexible program options, including fully online courses you can take from home while working around your life
- A solidly biblical approach to theological study and application that will prepare you to advance your career in ministry with confidence
We invite you to explore our site, take a virtual tour, and when you’re ready, reach out to start a conversation about fulfilling your call to service.
Featured image by Digitalskillet1 via Adobe Stock
Excellent blog that covers all the bases for a student searching for a place to grow. Awesome job, Dr. Shears!