The following is an article written by MDiv student, Joshua Whitfield for The Free Will Baptist magazine.
A Perspective on the Value of an Education
By Joshua M. Whitfield
As I am writing this article I am preparing to enter my last
semester of theological education at Campbell University Divinity
School and upon completion of this last semester I will earn a
Master of Divinity degree. With a sigh and a smile I can say it has been a long journey full of research and paper writing, test taking, and book reading. The journey has also been formational for me both spiritually and theologically and one that exceeded my hopes and expectations.
After accepting the call to ministry in April of 2006, I began my journey at Campbell the following fall with the thoughts of only taking the courses required by the Eastern Conference in order that I might receive my credentials to become ordained. Shortly after beginning that fall I fell in love with becoming educated and preparing myself for ministry and being back in school.
I also realized how valuable this theological education would be
to my career as a minister. More importantly, I felt this education
would adequately prepare me for service in the kingdom of God here on Earth.
Completing the degree requirements has not been easy nor has it been quick. It has been four long years filled with difficulties, questions, ups and downs, spiritually awakening moments, and times and circumstances that forced me to wrestle with theological and doctrinal issues. My theology and doctrine has not been threatened or changed, however, in the words of former Dean Michael Cogdill who tells every student upon entry to the Divinity School, “We do not want in any way to tamper with your box of theology; we just want to give you a bigger box!” That they did. The more I participated in education the more I realized how little I knew and how inadequately prepared I was to fulfill my calling. The years I have spent at Campbell have been very fruitful and challenging, and years that have served to prepare
me for Gospel ministry.
There is no way I can place a value upon this education I have received. I know what it would have cost me if I had been unable to find scholarships and grants. However, when I graduate in December, I will finish with a $0 balance on my student account. I have a good pastor friend who is attending another quality accredited seminary and who did not receive any funds for his education, and upon completion he left with his degree and a hefty $45,000 loan! Beyond the monetary concerns I have been blessed with new friends who are also preparing for ministry. The bonds I have formed and the fellowships I am involved with will forever be a part of my life.
I can honestly say without hesitation that Campbell University
Divinity School has changed and strengthened my life, both my individual walk with my Savior and my approach to ministry. The faculty and staff always go above and beyond to ensure students are privy to the highest level of academic scholarship and practical knowledge and skills for use in a variety of ministry settings. There are many advantages and benefits of attending Campbell University Divinity School (see end of the article).
Inevitably, some ministers and current students will mistakenly
think they do not have the time or money or energy and I would
encourage you to reconsider your thoughts and talk with Kelly Jones Jorgenson, Director of Admissions at Campbell University Divinity School (800-760-9827 ext. 1865). She would be happy to discuss your future at Campbell and how they work with students and their demanding schedules so that conflicts do not occur and demands are satisfied.
If you are a non-traditional student and are considering theological education but are currently working a full-time job or serving a church full-time, I would dare say that most churches would gladly accommodate their minister’s wishes to return to school and would allow their minister time off from their duties at the church. This is, after all an excellent way to become better prepared for service in the church. Allowing the minister to continue his education and improve the quality and effectiveness of their ministry through higher education is an investment that will only pay large dividends for the church.
Campbell University Divinity School or any accredited seminary serves to place the minister within the vein of modern theological thought and biblical scholarship. Seminary will introduce the student to new concepts and ideas, new ways to approach ministry and the study of God’s Word. It will broaden the student’s abilities and competencies, and it is the minister and the church that receive all the benefit.
Dr. Raper once said, “A call to the ministry is a call to prepare.”
One should do all that is possible to fully prepare themselves for service in the kingdom of God. This preparation for ministry has the potential to include receiving a quality theological education
and working diligently to maintain that education through continued study and preparation. This requires extreme focus and determination on behalf of the minister. With so many differences between Conferences and what their respective ordaining
councils require, the burden of pursuing an education falls directly on the shoulders of the minister. A call to the ministry is a serious call and there is no higher calling one can receive. As ministers we owe our God and our congregation to sufficiently prepare ourselves to fulfill our calling.
History has shown that when the church has failed it was not because there were no willing and dedicated laity, rather the church failed due in large part because of poorly prepared and ill-qualified leadership. Again, to quote Dr. Raper, “The pew will never rise higher than the pulpit!” This places the burden upon the one who fills the pulpit to rise to the highest level of preparation as possible. This not only pertains to the minister’s spiritual preparation through individual prayer and study, but also the minister’s mental and practical preparation through education.
I believe there is no greater call one can receive than to shepherd the people of God and be a minister to his flock. With such great privilege comes great responsibility. These responsibilities cannot be satisfied by what a person currently possesses in skills and abilities. Rather, we must supplement and expand our skills and competencies through theological education. With such means of education available like Mount Olive College and Campbell University Divinity School the future for ministers and the ministry of our denomination looks bright and promising. The potential for spiritual and physical growth in our churches due to quality-educated leadership is there.
Will you choose to take part in this awesome journey? There is a man that is a member of the church I pastor named Johnnie who also serves as a deacon in the church and he has a saying that I particularly like. He says, “God does not call the prepared but prepares the called.” May I ask you this question, “Are you
prepared?” You can be!
THE MANY ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS OF CAMPBELL UNIVERSITY DIVINITY SCHOOL
Campbell offers students the opportunity to take classes one or two days a week and/or at night allowing the student the freedom to work a full time job and attend school simultaneously.
Campbell offers students a solid foundation through core courses that addresses basic skills and prepares one for any ministry setting while also offering the flexibility of several different ministry concentrations.
The administration and Dean of the school have a level of determination that is unparalleled with respect to providing a quality and affordable education
The level of experience and knowledge of the faculty in their respective fields places the students on level playing ground with other quality divinity school graduates.