Why Pastors should pursue an MBA instead of DMin

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Why Pastors should pursue an MBA (Master of Business Administration) instead of DMin (Doctorate of Ministry)

This article is not for everyone and I am sure many will disagree with my statement.  Not everyone is cut out to pursue additional degrees after the MDiv.  But if one is considering pursuing a DMin, I am addressing this article to you.

I am starting my second semester pursuing my MBA (completed 11 hours so far).  I have earned my MDiv with Biblical Languages from SWBTS in 2001 and have completed 13 hours toward my DMin at Beeson Divinity School.  Since 2001, I have pastored a total of 3 churches.   I am pursuing my MBA at Kennesaw State University as a part of the University System of Georgia’s WebMBA program.  100% online degree in 18 months.

I LOVED my MDiv theological training at SWBTS and had an outstanding experience learning how to rightly divide the Word of God.  My argument is I believe it would be wise for a Pastor to consider pursuing an MBA instead of a DMin degree.  Listed below are the classes I will take as a part of my MBA for me to graduate.

My class list:

  • Human Behavior in Organization
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global & International Business
  • Managerial Decision Analysis
  • Strategic Marketing
  • Managerial Finance
  • Management Information System
  • Production & operations Management
  • Business Strategy

Why I believe pastors should consider pursuing their MBA over their DMin.  In my opinion . . .

1)      MBA is a more functional degree in leading a church than a DMin—With budgets, buildings, capital campaigns, church plants, marketing of the church, MBA will be far more practical than taking additional theology courses.

2)      MBA is respected and translates better to the congregation—I believe congregational members will better understand their pastor’s skill set if he adds an MBA than just additional theological graduate hours in pursuing a DMin.  It allows the pastor to better navigate the dangerous “waters” of running a nonprofit organization.  We are called as Christians to be “Innocent as doves, wise as serpents.”

3)      Education from an MBA will allow you to become more strategic in the organizational structure of a church—learning people is vital in leading a church.  Obviously following God’s leading in all things we are to use our brains in strategizing outreach, becoming entrepreneurial in planting churches, and intentional in our missions.

4)      MBA diversifies one’s education—I would argue understanding the business side of running an organization is a blind spot for many pastors with a solely theological degree background.

5)      Provides an education which can translate well bivocationally—businesses and nonprofits understand MBAs but (from experience) cannot fully understand or really respect how difficult MDiv degrees are.  As more and more churches are having to have bivocational pastors, it would provide the pastor the tools he needs to find another job easier than if he had a DMin.

In conclusion, in my opinion pursuing an MBA over a DMin will better sharpen a pastor to be a wise steward of God’s resources, become more skilled in equipping the saints for the work of the Gospel, and provide better strategy for the growth of the church of God.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. John,

    This is an interesting article and is not only timely for your current program of study but is also relevant to Christian ministers more broadly as it relates to the wider topic of the theological education that is delivered to future ministers of the gospel. You bring a unique perspective to the discussion as one that has completed some coursework in MBA and DMin programs as well as having experience in the pastorate. Simply put, you are an ideal person to write an article such as this.

    The issue I see is not the DMin versus MBA and which is better. Rather, what is the goal in pursuing additional education beyond the MDiv? It is my belief that seminaries need to do a better job of preparing students for the likelihood of bi-vocational ministry. One way to accomplish this is to broaden the MDiv somewhat to include more on the business side of ministry. Some have begun offering dual MDiv/MBA that adds about a year of study. Such an approach fills the gaps in the traditional MDiv and though would cost a little more for the student, it is not as much as a separate degree program. It also accomplishes your fourth point of providing a more diverse education. This is a nice win/win for the student, the schools offering such programs, and most importantly the local church.

    I agree that the MBA is better understood by the broadest number of congregants and is certainly a well-respected degree. Depending on the concentration, it can be very beneficial for leading the non-profit aspect of the church. As for being more strategic, I disagree on this point. Executing strategy, perhaps may be more effective, but I do not think one is more strategic simply because of the MBA.

    DMin programs that I am familiar with focus on leadership of effective ministry teams and volunteers, biblical and contemporary models of leadership, and leadership and management theory as it relates to church administration. The goal of the DMin is not the same as the MBA and this is why I ask the question: what if the purpose of seeking additional education beyond the MDiv? If the goal is to become a better administrator then the MBA is likely the better choice. However, while there are business principles that are useful in the local church, it is not a business and ought not be “managed” like one. Just a note of caution!

    I think it is important to remember that studies at the doctoral level are supposed to be narrower and more specialized. The MBA is a more generalized education evidenced by the educational diversity your article mentions. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. You have started the ball rolling and I am interested to hear what others think about this.

  2. H.W.Youngblood says:

    John,

    Your essay is spot on to the reality of problems in running a successful ministry. I have just completed my survey of pastors and church leaders around the country on: “The top five financial difficulties pastors and church leaders experience.”One of the most often listed reasons is the lack of training in business. This was also the top reason quoted in my survey conducted in 2007.

    I will be presenting an overview of this research on August 27th to the Cherokee Christain Ministerial Associan 11:00 am at the Dayspring Church in Woodstock, should you or any of your readers be interested.

    Also, I would be happy to share any of the data with you. Just let me know.

    Uncle Bill

    1. The Rev Adv TL Mahasha says:

      I’m a Pastor and a lawyer (Advocate) in the Republic of South Africa who need to learn more and prepare myself to lead as a Bishop

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