Why Include Theological Education in a Church Residency?
To some, getting a degree in theological education was never even a consideration. To others, some sort of seminary degree is just the default next step. Theological education is also an option that some people forget about altogether. For those who plan on going into vocational ministry, a MA in Christian Ministry or a MDiv or even a PhD is usually a prerequisite, but it is by no means required. However, formal structured theological education is an amazing tool for any Christian striving after Jesus and His mission.
Multiple studies have shown that postsecondary education (any structured education after high school) improves people’s wellbeing, such as better cognitive skills and health, as well as an overall benefit to the community and society. A non-Christian organization did an in-depth study on the impact of postsecondary education on 52 economic and noneconomic factors. The study concluded that higher education “positively related to higher income, better health status, better wellbeing, increased likelihood to do work that fits with their natural talents and interests, voting participation, volunteerism and charitable giving”. Not only are there positive correlations between a degree and the student’s personal wellbeing and their community, but many people who get some sort of post-high school education say that their jobs are a good fit with their talents and interests. The previously mentioned study showed that only 58% of people with no postsecondary education felt that their work fits with their talents and interests. Compare that number with the 71% of people who earned an associate degree and 87% of people who earned a graduate degree, it is clear that those who pursue higher education seem to not only know their talents and interests well but have found jobs or careers that fit them well. For the Christian pursuing a post-graduate education in the faith that so radically effects our lives, how much more so is the potential for personal, communal, and spiritual growth.
The seminary degree that is included in a Mercy Hill Residency program is by default a postsecondary degree because it is a postgraduate degree, meaning that a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for a seminary degree. The degree that our residents are pursuing is a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (Mentored). This is a unique master’s degree because it includes a mentored internship every summer with a leader in the church. This specific degree path requires practical ministry participation in addition to its academic curriculum. This is a perfect degree for our residency because each resident at Mercy Hill participates in vocational ministry for at least 2 years. Opportunities like this are few and far between.
There are a few unique reasons that a theological education is important. First and foremost, a theological education helps to stir your affections for God, His Word, and the church. This is the purpose for which we were created—to love, know, and worship God in everything we do. By learning more about who God is and what He’s done, seminary education can help give you a deeper foundation to stir your affections. Second, seminary better equips you to both understand and apply the Word of God to life and ministry. Structured theological education will not only help you better know what you believe and why you believe it, but it will impact your life and ministry in real time. While there are many more important benefits to a theological education, I will end with the fact that a seminary degree (specifically at Mercy Hill) will better equip you to live on mission, make disciples, and multiply churches. The overall design and goal here is to help you better understand and live out God’s heart for the nations and to send YOU out more equipped for God’s mission.
When thinking about what to do after graduation or for this next season of life, Mercy Hill residency is an amazing chance to grow your minds towards the things of God through top-notch theological education, to grow your hearts and affections towards the things of God, join an awesome staff community and culture, and to grow your actions and behaviors towards glorifying God through your vocational ministry roles.
– Josh Malloy (Interim Associate Director of Theological Education)
Work cited: Gallup-Lumina State of Higher Education