You’ve just graduated high school (or community college), and you’re thinking about going to Bible college to study the Bible. Good idea. I graduated from Boyce College with a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies, and my time spent at Boyce was excellent. But I also dealt with some of the lowest points of my Christian life while studying there; I’ll explain that a little later.
I’d like to offer some advice for those considering Bible college and for those attending. Hopefully, this will also be beneficial for any pastors who have students interested in biblical studies.
First, seriously consider why you want to pursue the degree. My classes at Boyce were filled with people from all over the world, each having a different story of how they decided upon Bible college. Some were there because they felt a call from the Lord to pursue the work of church ministry. But others were not so certain. One student, after I asked why he chose to attend Boyce, said, “Well, I liked youth group so I decided to come to Bible college.”
Let me clear this up for you: Bible college is not like youth group or youth camp. It’s a school. It’s a place you go to work hard to be able to effectively handle the word of God. If you’re considering going to Bible college because you enjoyed youth camp, please don’t. Why? Because there are two possible outcomes for this: 1) After a period of time you realize that this, in fact, is not like youth camp so you decide to leave school, wasting time and money; 2) An even worse outcome is that you actually graduate. Then, since you have a Bible degree, the most logical move is to work at a church. Now there is some person preaching/teaching at a church who is not even called to do so. This is the last thing churches need.
Secondly, for those who do feel the Lord’s call into ministry and do attend Bible college, get involved with a good church. As I already shared, I experienced some of my all-time spiritual lows during school. It was no fault of the school. It was purely my own fault because I was not faithfully involved with a church so the Bible became a textbook to me. Theology was merely an academic pursuit for me. I went to church, but I was not investing my life into it as I should. Becoming a part of a solid church is important because the local church is where your theology is given feet. Also, it’s a place for you to use the gifts God has given you. I cannot overemphasize the importance of faithfully committing to a local body of believers.
Third, take the most difficult classes available. I remember taking a class called Advanced Hermeneutics (basically it’s the study of interpreting the Bible) one semester. Going into the class, I had practically no experience with biblical theology or literary theory. Needless to say, many class discussions felt like everyone else was speaking a foreign language, not to mention that I was forced to read the most difficult book I have ever read in my life. Though it took tons of work to keep up, the lessons I learned in that class completely changed me as a theologian. By being challenged and stretched to our limits, we grow more than we ever thought imaginable. Take the tough classes. It’ll mean more time in the library, but that’s what you’re there to do.
Lastly, build a relationship with at least one professor. Dr. Brian Payne was that professor for me. Through his class lectures and the discussions that continued after class, the Lord used him to shape my thinking more than any other person. Also, he was able to offer counsel to me during a particularly difficult situation in my life. It’s important to have a good relationship with someone like this that you can look up to and look to for counsel. One other perk of having a good relationship with professors is that they provide good recommendations for your seminary application. (I’m looking at you, BP.)
Bible college was a great time in my life. I grew in my faith and made some dear friends along the way. I hope and pray that many will experience the same joys of Bible college while avoiding some of the mistakes that I made.
What are some other pieces of advice that you would offer to those interested in pursuing a degree from Bible college?
2 thoughts on “So You’re Considering Bible College?”
Cody, I very much agree with your second point. I do not know if there was a darker time in my life where my heart was cold and my mind flirted with agnostic thoughts as it did my first year of Boyce. Along with that point I would say serve in whatever way you can at a local church (welcome team, ushering, nursery, etc.). Do not go looking for a church to preach and teach at, but rather find one where you can wipe snotty noses in the nursery and sit under preaching that is way better than yours. I truly believe that the young and reformed will always have a hard time applying their sermon to the single mother if they never get their hands dirty. If you want to grow in wisdom as a young single then submit yourself under a godly couple and watch how the gospel permeates their lives in every important and mundane thing that they do. Some of my greatest pastoral lessons in the past 3 years have been learned by living everyday life with believers I admire. Cody, thanks for this post. Annie and I always enjoy your thoughtful and very pastoral blog.
Matthew, as always, excellent insight. I wholeheartedly agree with your comment. There are so many things in ministry that can only be taught in the “messiness” of a local body of believers.
By the way, congrats on the official ibclouisville e-mail address. You bring credibility to this blog.