In my current series on higher Christian Education I discussed the cost of professional ministry. Remember ministry is the obligation of all those who are disciples of Jesus Christ. Of first importance, your obedience to His commands and attention to His word (the Bible) are at the very top of any list.
Lets address option one, education. Here are a few tips and pointers that can get you on track to receive the knowledge you desire.
Read your Bible and pray. This might seem laughable at first, but think about it. If you need a bible but don’t have the money for one there are plenty of ministries out there who will set you up. You can also approach other online and parachurch ministries that provide these tools free of charge to those seeking to equip themselves for the work of service to others.
Become familiarized with the basic tenets of the Christian faith. You can call it the who, what, when, why, and how of church. Just becoming acquainted with Theology, Bibliology, Hermeneutics, Mankind, The Nature of God (Godhead), Ecclesiology, and Eschatology can establish a sound framework. Granted you might also become an excellent heretic if left to your own devices with theological things. My advice in that case is simply this, if you are going to be a heretic, at least be consistent!
Accumulate free online, print, journal, and periodical resources that teach on these topics. Do a simple search on theological topics and it will bring up plenty to choose from. A word of caution, just be careful, and do so with an open Bible. Utilize your local library, college libraries, and even inter-library loan services to secure some of the newest and truest resources available today, at no cost. Also visit websites that have accumulated much of the same type of material you would pay outrageous textbook prices for to begin with:
- Internet Resources for Theological Studies – A collection of sources based on theological topic
- Online Theology Library – A free resource from Northwestern Theological Seminary
- Christian Classics Ethereal Library – A collection of works from centuries of dead theologians
- University or Community College Libraries – If you are alumnus at any school, you likely still have unabated access to journals and databases that often include theological works.
Although I am not listing an exhaustive resource log here in this post the point is clear. Do not neglect the benefit of study with elder brethren who have long labored in the word and lived the Christian life, but do not let the absence of such be a deterrent. Most importantly, remember that theology simply means the study (ology) of God (theos). So, go study God.
So before you go paying some well deserving establishment 40,000 smack-a-roos for a seminary degree, decide what your reason for going is. If it is just to be better equipped then consider your local church as seminary. After all, the point of the equipping is to serve your local brethren and prepare them to replicate the same. All in all, you can walk away from your own self-study with a systematic theology comparable to some of the best out there. But if all that knowledge serves no earthly good, you are not stewarding your money well.
Next, we’ll talk about theological books. One of my favorite subjects!
This post is part of a series on higher Christian Education: