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Reasons To Pursue An Associate's Degree In Ministry

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An associates degree in ministry can be a good first step into formal training if you've already done some church work and want to start on a path of making ministry a more important part of your life. A Christian church "career" is something people define in many different ways. Some students want to become missionaries and bring a biblical message to the countries all over the world, while others with a gift for public speaking might be attracted to the idea of becoming the minister on a large church, a goal that would require more education in most cases (more on bachelor's degrees in ministry here). Quite a few devout Christians choose a third path of doing ministry on a part time basis at a smaller church, without leaving their day jobs in the secular world (an approach that's sometimes called "bi-vocational" ministry, for which there are actually specific degree programs). In a life-long career in the Church, it's actually possible that a person might do all three of these things for a period of time. A common thread through all, however, is that the choices on this path are generally based more on a sense of personal calling than on earning a great deal of money.

A Degree In Two Parts
There are two main study elements involved in an associate's degree (generally a 60 - 66 credit program) in this area. First comes a series of basic courses in communication, English and math (in some cases) that can actually be useful in any career. The second part of your studies will focus much more intensively on theology and the specific skill set of an effective minister. Your more academic classes will cover the old and new testaments of The Bible, along with the historical and philosophical questions they raise. The more skills-based part of your study will cultivate your growth as a minister by making you more comfortable with speaking in public, communicating your message to people who come from cultures other than your own and conveying your beliefs to people who don't necessarily share your viewpoint. While all these elements can all be challenging, ministry students often get a level of personal satisfaction and intellectual engagement from these courses that's not enjoyed by students in many other majors.

An associate degree is likely to make you a viable candidate to start as either the minister of smaller rural church, which may be a non-paying position, or as the director of a youth ministry or other specialized office within a larger church. Missionaries who go abroad are compensated for their travel and living expenses and sometimes get a small stipend. But they mainly do the work for the satisfaction of spreading a Christian message while getting a chance to see the world. If you have a goal of becoming a pastor in a larger church, a job that can pay a more substantial salary but requires more advanced skills in many areas, you'll probably need to follow your associate's degree with a bachelors and even a master's degree. Don't forget, however, that no matter what degree you have, it's very important that you can demonstrate that you have already done considerable work in a church environment, either on a paid or volunteer basis. Ministry is a career where having a strong sense of personal commitment and mission is always considered as important, if not more important, than educational qualifications.

Online Ministry Student Advantage
Just about all online schools promote the idea that digital learning is great for adults who are trying to earn a degree at the same time as they hold down a job and attend to their families. But ministry schools tend to be particularly helpful to adult learners, because they're very aware that ministry study is something people may pursue with a goal of ultimately getting a job that is a part-time pursuit on top of their "day job," and that others sign up for theological and ministry studies purely for their own personal enhancement. As such, ministry schools are often particularly flexible about allowing students to transfer in credits earned previously, pause and then restart their schooling and creating their own schedules.

Denominational Choices
Every individual church and every denomination within the Christian world is unique. It's good to keep a few basic guidelines in mind if you are hoping that your associate's ministry degree is going to open doors for you to get a job. First, if you want to become either a Roman Catholic priest or lay worker, it's advisable that you attend a Catholic college. Catholics tend to see themselves as apart from Evangelicals, Baptists and many other Christians, and they tend to want people who've had a long-term association with Catholicism.

If you hope to get involved with a church run by Baptists or The Churches of Christ, it may give you an advantage to study at a school that has the appropriate affiliation. Happily, there are quite a few choices out there with both online and classroom degree programs in both areas. Where you want to work geographically can also make a difference. Southern churches tend to be particularly focused on the subdivisions within denominations. Many Southern Baptist churches, for example, will probably welcome someone with a degree from a seminary like Liberty University, one of the largest religious schools and a real powerhouse in online education. But a Baptist church with a more Calvinistic perspective may take a negative view of training from Liberty. Dispensational churches, which do not insist on a strict literal reading of the Bible, may shy away from a candidate who has studied at a very non-dispensational seminary.

Important Choices
Finally, there are many churches that will gladly hire ministers who have been trained at schools that are completely non-denominational. The best approach, wherever possible, is to speak with someone at a particular church where you might want to work before you commit to any degree program. The information you get may have a profound effect on which school you choose.


Top Christian Schools Specializing In Online Degrees:

Ohio Christian University
School associated with the Churches of Christ, which focuses on the needs of adult learners. Online degrees in:
- Ministry
- Business (Assoc. & Bachelor's degrees)
- Psychology
- Healthcare Management
Get Information On Ohio Christian University

Grand Canyon University
Unique proprietary school based in Arizona that emphasizes Christian values in all programs, without emphasizing a particular denominational interpretation. Offers over 90 online degree programs in:
- Ministry & Christian Studies
- Business (Bachelor's & Master's in many specialties)
- Education (30 degree programs)
- Health & Nursing
- Criminal Justice
- Psychology
Get Free Info On Grand Canyon University

Abilene Christian University
School founded in 1906, which now integrates Christian faith into online learning programs. Degree programs focus on leadership & teaching:
- Master of Business (Conflict resolution, HR development)
- Master of Education (Leadership, digital learning)
Get Free Information On Abilene Christian University
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