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Pastoral studies: the right next step?

Are you called? You want to preach the Gospel. You want to serve, but as a high school senior, it can be hard to know if pastoral ministry is the path you’re called to. A pastoral studies major may be the right next step.

If you’re like many high school seniors, you still have a lot of questions about your future. You’re still getting to know your strengths and weaknesses. You’re still learning about careers and fields of study. You’re not sure yet what work might bring you the most satisfaction.

It also may not be clear yet where you can do the most good. How can the unique gifts God has given you best serve human needs? The pastor-novelist Fredrick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Majoring in pastoral studies gives you a way to further explore ministry as a calling. As you do so, you’ll gain knowledge and skills that prepare you to be a pastor, to pursue further education, to succeed in other careers, and to live a faithful Christian life.

Does ministry seem far away?

If you do feel confident you’re called to be a pastor, you still face challenges. A major in pastoral studies can address these as well.

First, attending college and then seminary requires 7-8 years of full-time schooling. You may find it hard to imagine spending close to another decade as a student.

Second, a seminary degree also means, in many cases debt. Will you even be able to enter full-time ministry directly when you’re done with school? Will you need to do other work until you’ve paid down your debt?

A pastoral studies degree allows you to begin preparing now to be a lead pastor. It may even enable you to begin pastoring a church without going to seminary.

5 benefits of a pastoral studies major

  1. The chance to explore your calling: For most people, discerning your calling in life — particularly a ministry calling — takes time and testing. As a pastoral studies major, you’ll learn in the classroom, build relationships with professors and other students, and intern in a local church. All these experiences will give you valuable insight into the realities of ministry.

    You’ll also learn about yourself. You’ll study Scripture, theology, and church history intensively. You’ll learn, both in the classroom and in the field, about the practical, administrative, and relational challenges and responsibilities of being a pastor. As you do, you’ll discern, with the help faculty mentors, the answers to these and other questions:

    “What subjects and tasks am I passionate about?”
    “What are my gifts?”
    “Who and where do I love to serve?”
    “Where do I make the biggest impact?”
    “As others get to know me, do they see pastoral ministry as the best fit for me?”

  1. Preparation for pastoral ministry: Not all churches require pastoral candidates to have a seminary degree (a Master of Divinity, or MDiv). If you decide to enter the ministry, you may have opportunities to become a lead pastor without any further schooling.
  2. You’ll be well-prepared for seminary: If you do decide to pursue full-time ministry, you may see the value of a seminary education. You may decide that deepening your knowledge of Scripture and more extensive preparation is worth the additional time and expense.If so, your pastoral studies degree will prove an excellent foundation.
  1. You’ll earn a degree that’s useful in other careers: As a pastoral studies major, you may find that ministry isn’t your calling. In that case, you’ll be prepared for other work either in the church or in another career, such as working for a ministry or non-profit organization.A pastoral studies degree develops thinking, communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills that are valuable in nearly any field.
  1. You’ll grow in your faith: It can be easy see your education only as a means to an end. It’s important, of course, to think about what careers your college education will prepare you for.

    Don’t forget, though, that college is a unique time in life. It’s likely your one chance to focus your full attention on studying and expanding your knowledge. It’s a unique time to be formed as a person.

    As a pastoral studies major, you’ll grow in your faith and your knowledge of what you believe. This impacts all of your life and all of your relationships. So, no matter what career you pursue, majoring in pastoral studies will be of value for the rest of your life.

Take the next step

Whether you’re confident or uncertain about your life’s calling, consider whether a pastoral studies major might be the right next step. It can prepare you well for a variety of paths.

To find out more about the pastoral studies major at North Central University, please feel free to request more information. Located in a major metropolitan area and in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, the opportunities to explore your calling at NCU are enormous.

We’d love to get to know you and talk with you about whether our program may be the right fit. Use this free worksheet to evaluate your options as you decide on a university.

Download the College Decision Worksheet