Recently I have been once again thinking about furthering my education. I have been looking at distance education and online Bible college. There are pro’s and con’s to distance education and you have to be cautious about which online Bible college you decide to go with. There are so many choices and so many less than reputable schools offering distance education, even in the religious niche. I have recently noticed a barrage of advertisements for “Ministry” and “Evangelism” degrees by places that do not even have a solid biblical background. Just like there are people who will sell mail order ordinations, there are people who will sell online Bible college degrees. I don’t understand why a person would be fooled by this or even go for it since the purpose of getting an online Bible college degree is to grow in your spiritual walk and have the understanding and foundation in the word of God to be able to help people. Taking short cuts in this process really helps nobody. It is because of this and because sincere people are looking to figure out whether getting a degree from an online Bible college is the right choice for them, I decided to write this article.
Is an online Bible college education the right choice for you?
Distance education is not the right choice for everyone. You need both the right situation and the right personality to make it work. If you are young and unfettered by responsibilities like a spouse or children or major career responsibilities then I would highly suggest you do not pursue distance education. Take the risk, and take the plunge to go ahead and attend a brick and mortar Bible college or Christian university. There is something to be said for the face to face interaction with both the professors and students that you do not get with distance education. They are able to speak into your life and challenge you in ways you do not get from an online Bible college. Allow your season immersed in the school and it’s culture to be a time that God forms deep things in your life. This was true in my own experience. I went to L.I.F.E. Bible college in Los Angeles Ca. before it moved to San Dimas Ca. and changed it’s name to Pacific Life Bible college. It was during this time that God confirmed my call to pastoral ministry and implanted many deep things in my life that effect me even today.
Many of us are not young and unencumbered. We have responsibilities, families, careers and bills to pay. We cannot afford to just up and move to a Bible college and take part in that type of education. Time and responsibilities make it next to impossible to go to a brick and mortar Bible college or university. This is where the option of an online bible college fits in with God’s plan. You may be feeling the call to explore more ministry options or to be a worship leader or even a pastor yet you need an option to get solid training and education so you can be a workman rightly dividing the word. Online Bible college can be your answer. I know it is for me. Even though I am already a pastor, I still need more education and more training. We never stop learning. However I could not justify leaving my pastorate just to go to a brick and mortar university.
Things to consider in choosing an online Bible college.
As I mentioned earlier there are some people selling degrees and inadequate schooling programs all over the place. You need to make sure that the online Bible college you choose will actually give you what you are looking for. We all work hard for our money and to spend it on something that will not cause you to achieve your goals is frustrating. Here are a few tips to help you figure out if the school you are considering is worth your time.
- Is the school you are considering an accredited online Bible college? There is a system in place, even for Christian colleges that separates fake schools or schools with low standards from schools that have high standards and are real institutes of higher learning. It is called accreditation, Is the school you are considering accredited? Check to see if it is accredited with an agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) recognized accrediting agency and member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
- Is the school you are considering to be your online Bible college recognized by your particular church or denomination? Although I am a firm believer in Christian unity and working beyond our denominational walls, I also recognize both the need and the reality of being like minded with those you are working closely with. Make sure that the school you are choosing fits within the framework of the people you believe God is calling you to associate with. It will do you very little good for you to choose a Catholic education when you are going to be ministering in a Baptist church and it will not help you to get your education at a Pentecostal Bible college if you are working with a Lutheran denomination.
- Finally in considering an online Bible college, you need to understand the purpose of why you are getting this education. If it is just for personal growth or to learn more about a specific subject then maybe some of these considerations are not as important. You do not need accreditation or a degree that is recognized if you are just wanting to learn more. However if you are looking for a degree or to go beyond a bachelor’s degree and want to get a master’s or doctorate then these things are very important. Some churches and denominations require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and some require a masters degree.
Online Bible colleges that I am personally familiar with and recommend.
There have been 3 times in my life that I have had need of an online Bible college. I am familiar with these 3 institutions and believe that they are solid and reputable. I am not getting paid to endorse them nor do they even know that I am. I just want to give you a place to start if you are sensing the leading of God to get some formal theological training.
Life Pacific College is the flagship Bible college of the Foursquare Denomination. It is a brick and mortar Bible college that has a distance learning division. It is fully accredited and any degree you earn there will enable you to go on to the next level and get a master’s degree.
Global University is the distance learning division of the Assemblies of God. They have personal growth classes, undergraduate classes and graduate classes. You can go all the way to a masters degree with this school. It is based out of Springfield Mo. Although I am not part of the Assemblies of God I agree with most of their doctrine.
Vineyard Leadership Institute is a non-accredited online Bible college that is good for your personal growth or edification. If you happen to be part of the Vineyard church as I am, then having taken courses from them is considered when you are looking to move into ministry positions. I have taken some of their courses and have enjoyed them greatly.
I hope that this article on online Bible colleges has helped you gain some direction on where God is calling you. My list nor my recommendations was intended to be exhaustive but just help guide you on your way. I hope that this article is used by God to encourage you and prod you to get your biblical education so you can be a better workman rightly dividing the word of God. God can and will use anybody. Just look at me! But it definitely helps if you take the time to allow others to impart into you what they have learned from the word of God.
Blessings to all of you!