When I was hired several years ago, I remember the interview like it was yesterday. We had just finished discussing the latest technological advancements that have improved the online experience, when a picture of several friends of mine popped up in my mind.
They were businessmen, salesmen, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and pastors. Men and women who felt a tug to want to get a more formal theological education, but could not—dare not—quit their job in order to pursue an M.Div. in theology. In fact, in most of these cases, it would have been heinous for them to step away from a ministry that God had already placed them in so that they might get a more robust theological education.
I praise God that we live in a day where men and women can get strengthened in their understanding of Scripture and its application without having to leave the soil in which they are planted.
What is more, it is a beautiful thing when someone who is studying apologetics and evangelism can actually practice the principles of the course with those they love and have spent years investing their lives. Perhaps the next term they offer to teach a Sunday School class and apply the hermeneutics course they just finished.
So much of education has forgotten that knowledge without love—without the practical outworking of doctrine—is meaningless. It truly does not matter what you know unless you apply it.
One of the last pieces that can be overlooked in getting a formalized theological education is the depth at which the teaching goes. I remember taking several classes at a time. I would hunker down each semester and crank out paper after paper. I would check off my reading. I would (unfortunately) complain about the privilege and blessing it was to study such majestic material.
By taking one course at a time, space is given to think deeply about what is being studied. It is no indictment for someone to study one course at a time. Rather, it is a boon. It serves the student and the ones he or she will teach.
Blog written by Dean of Christian Ministries, NGU Online, Dr. Matthew Wireman