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 Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree but we all need to think beyond the confines of theological education. My question to you is, what skills do you have other than being a pastor to provide for your family?  If one is considering pursuing a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree, what is your true motivation?  Is it the “applause of men” so you can be called “Doctor?”

I am honored to have earned my Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Kennesaw State University in May 2016. I learned a tremendous amount and have studied under some of the sharpest business minds in the state. In 2001, I earned my MDiv with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (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 loved my MDiv (94 hours) theological training at SWBTS. The MDiv is a 94 hour comprehensive degree focused on all functional areas of running a non-profit or church:  preaching, leadership, administration, finance, conflict resolution, languages, and teaching.

If one is compelled to pursue additional education after your MDiv, I believe it would be wise for a minister to pursue an MBA instead of a DMin degree. Listed below are the classes I have taken as a part of the MBA course load.

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
  • Business Law
  • Financial Accounting
  • Strategic Management

Reasons why I believe pastors should consider pursuing their MBA over their DMin. 

  1. MBA is a more functional degree in leading a church than a DMin—Having to address budgets, buildings, capital campaigns, church plants, marketing of the church, an MBA will be far more practical than taking additional theology courses.  It is a sharper tool and provides more diverse equipment for managing a large non-profit.  Are you pursuing the DMin simply to be called “Doctor?”
  2. 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.
  3. MBA is more respected and translates better to the congregation—I believe congregational members will better understand their minister’s skill set if they add an MBA than just additional theological graduate hours in pursuing a DMin. If one wants a doctorate, I would argue for a PhD.  A PhD is a terminal degree and allows you to teach full-time at a university (a DMin does not).  An MBA better equips the minister to better navigate the dangerous “waters” of running a nonprofit organization. We are called as Christians to be “Innocent as doves, wise as serpents.”  I love Thom Rainer’s blog post about becoming a “MarketPlace Pastor” and having many more opportunities to share our faith.
  4. MBA diversifies one’s education—Understanding the business side of running an organization is a blind spot for many pastors with only a theological background. An MBA equips a minister to handle themselves in an expert manner outside of the cloister of our isolated theological silos. None of us are immune to losing our jobs.  What skills outside the pastorate do you have to provide for your family?
  5. Provides an education which can translate well as a bi-vocational minister—businesses and nonprofits understand MBAs but (from experience) cannot fully grasp or really respect how difficult MDiv degrees (90 credit hours plus) are. As more and more churches are forced to have bi-vocational pastors (80% of churches is a common stat), an MBA would provide the pastor the necessary tools they need to find a well-paying job.  I firmly agree with Pastor JD Greear, “I am convinced that the next wave of missions is going to happen on the wings of business.”  Thom Rainer has the pulse of the new direction in Bivocational Ministry in his latest blog, Eight Characteristics of the New Bivocational Pastor.  I am ready!

In conclusion, 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 smarter strategy for the growth of the church of God. Regardless of whether you pursue an MBA, I would strongly encourage a pastor to gain additional training to have the ability and option to be bivocational.