Unlike teachers, psychologists and therapists, ministers are not required by a regulating organization or state law to pursue continuing education. Many, however, are opting to go back to school in order to sharpen their understanding of the Bible, understand people better and embrace all that technology has to offer. Because ministers maintain busy schedules, the demand for flexible online options, such as pursuing a degree, is growing.
A study performed by Christianity Today indicated that seven out of ten ministers in the United States have earned either a master’s degree or a doctorate in their field, and most of them did so after already joining a church community. As the ministry is a demanding vocation, an inflexible class schedule is impractical and will not allow a minister to effectively serve his/her congregation. The freedom of online education allows a minister to take an emergency phone call, offer counseling or visit a sick parishioner and return to the virtual classroom without missing a thing.
Ministers who need to reserve time to meet with their congregants, attend or lead church activities and pursue their online studies can utilize services like ordering by mail. Doing so ensures they receive necessary supplies like wallet credentials, course handbooks and communion sets without needing to schedule a special shopping trip. A quick survey of shipping quotes can find purchases en route while the minister attends to his/her church duties or catches up on homework, all from the comfort and convenience of home, office or neighborhood coffee shop.
The world has become more convenient thanks to the accessibility of the Internet. More and more shoppers shop via their computers, and pursuing online education is becoming more common. Leadership organization, The Sloan Consortium, indicates 30 percent of higher-education students have taken at least one online course. Many major universities and seminaries offer online coursework, with some schools offering degrees in a completely virtual environment. Being able to attend class without visiting a traditional campus, as well as order everything from groceries to ministerial supplies online, affords church leaders the opportunity to serve their community on demand rather than by appointment.
In addition to earning a degree, online study can teach ministers how best to use technology in their churches. Religious institutions can benefit from reaching congregants via social media, writing a blog or establishing networking opportunities. Many churches are missing out on the use of these valuable tools simply because they are unaccustomed to incorporating technology into church life. Being Internet savvy is not just for teenagers or technophiles anymore.
Pursuing lifelong goals like higher education, being prepared for church-based classes and attending to parishioner needs are very real concerns for today’s ministers. In addition to staying current with coursework, church officials need to understand all that advancing technology and Internet accessibility can provide. Thanks to the convenience of online ordering and education, shopping for ministerial supplies and going to class are as simple as sitting down with a laptop.