Ever since the summer of 2001, when God told me that I needed ‘get’ before I can ‘give’, I have been pursuing higher theological training. Sadly enough I almost gave up on this dream a few years later, only to be rescued by my wife and God’s poking and prodding which lead to starting Vineyard Leadership Institute (VLI) in 2005. Upon graduating from VLI in 2007, I immediately applied to and was accepted at Fuller Theological Seminary for a Masters of Intercultural Studies. Over the next three years, I took three distant learning classes, the last being in the Spring of 2010. Distance learning through a christian university online has been such a wonderful experience, and one that you may want to consider if their is no-where nearby to enrol with.
When I had first applied to Fuller, I had originally planned to continue taking distant classes through Fuller for about eight years before moving to California to complete the program (you have to do half the courses on their campus). Things, however, radically changed in February 2011 when I became the senior pastor of the PRV church – i.e. moving was no longer an option. That means that house hunting in California came to a halt. I’d even started looking into some beautiful homes on real estate platforms like https://reali.com/san-francisco-bay-real-estate/, but I had to give up on these dream houses for my new job.
The dream then sat dominate for a few years while I tried to figure out what God wanted to do with my life…then St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Canada, popped up on my radar. Their Master of Ministry program is a module system designed for working pastors – as in, the bulk of the studying is done at home with the students coming together at the end of each module for a two week in-classes teaching period.
As far as the degree itself, the Master of Ministry degree is uniquely designed to prepare spiritual leaders instead of researchers. What I mean is that instead of focusing purely on theory, St. Stephen’s University focus on Spiritual Formation and real questions and life issues facing church leaders today. Early this year I asked Phil Strout, the new Vineyard USA Director, what he thought of the program as he completed it in 2004. He said that the most important thing for a young pastor to learn was spiritual development and that I should feed it, feed it, and feed it. In other words, yes, the Master of Ministry degree at SSU is worthwhile.
To that end, I applied to St. Stephen’s University – not really know if I would be accepted, how I was going to pay for it, or if I would have the time to work on the classes… I just told God that if this dream was His, He was going to have to do something about it or, if I was off course, please have my application denied.
Today I received an email informing me I have been accepted into the program and that all my Fuller classes have been counted towards the degree!! (a HUGE blessing in and off itself!!!)
It is craziness I know (considering all that is happening in my life)…but It looks like God is leading me back to school at some level (most likely I will do one module per year for four years…). What a ride this is!