Do I Need a Degree to Become a Pastor?

a person holding the bible

Jun 12, 2020

Jeff Augustine, Master of Arts in Theology - Jeff was the senior pastor of Life Community Church of Central Illinois and has 23 years of pastoral ministry experience.

Keith Green once said in one of his songs that attending a church no more makes you a Christian than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger. If God has called someone to be a pastor, a degree or title or position no more makes it so. The simplest way to know if you are a pastor or leader is to turn around and see if anyone is following. My old mentor and pastor had a phrase that captured this well, “an elder is an elder to the degree that he elds.” Being a pastor is not a position to be attained but a function to be performed. Many have the title or degree without the reality.

Pastoral ministry is generally local and specific and takes place in a unique community under certain conditions. Denominational structure can also play a role in how a pastoral position functions. To pastor or plant a church is contextual in terms of requirements. A pastoral leader in a younger or new context (church planting) may not need as much theological training but a pastor of a growing church or sizable community needs a certain level of theological and biblical training if they are going to responsibly feed, disciple and grow the community in the Scriptures.

The pastoral role is to train and equip others to minister so that they in turn train others and the progression becomes endless in expanding the ministry of Jesus. So to the degree the pastor is trained and equipped will affect the way others are trained within that community. Education is part of the preparation and on-going process of leadership. Although more is caught than taught through experience and hands on ministry in the trenches, there is also a great need for pastors to be equipped in the scriptures and theology. A pastor can only give away what they have been given. They can only share what they have learned.

In Matthew 9:37, Jesus tells us that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. If God is calling you to be a pastor or leader, then do all you can to get the training you need to be effective. A degree does not make you a pastor but a pastor with a degree can be very effective in making disciples for Jesus Christ. You will not be able to reap where you have not sown. A degree in Biblical Studies or Christian Ministry will allow you to be used in ways that would not have been possible without it.

Take your future further with CCU’s new Master of Arts in Executive Leadership in Christian Ministry or other degree program options in applied apologetics, biblical studies, theology, and Christian ministry!

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