Here are 8 reasons I am happily pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree in Biblical Theology than a Doctor of Philosophy degree in biblical or theological studies:
- I’d have to move. Now, I could do a PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Systematic Theology focusing on ecclesiology in a modular format where I wouldn’t have to move. I’d love to do a PhD on that under John Hammett. So this is not a strong reason and if it weren’t for the ones below I might have gone in this direction.
- I’m already a pastor. John Piper said, “If a Ph.D.program is set up—and there are some — to really let you work on the Bible for three or four years, and the understanding of the Bible in its larger implications for life and reality, then, on your way to your pastorate, that could be gold.”
- It costs too much. It’s at least 4 times the price.
- It demands more attention than I can give as a solo pastor working for church reform in a church that was dying.
- I don’t desire to break new ground in biblical-theological research for pastors and scholars. I desire to discover and re-discover familiar ground saying it in a fresh way to my generation and congregation from my perspective.
- I want to be a doctor primarily in the church rather than for the church. “Doctor” in Latin means teacher. We need teachers (scholars) for the church, writing scholarly works to grow deeper in knowledge and supply all kinds of resources pastors and teachers in the church to use. I use the resources they produce. But we also need doctors in the church: preaching, teaching, and discipling church members to obey everything Christ commanded for the accomplishment of the great commission to the glory of God. The church is on the front line institutionally. The church members are on the front line organically, interacting with non-Christians everyday in the marketplace, the workforce, at school, and online. They need doctors, teachers of the highest caliber, equipping and strengthening them to the task of gospelizing the world week in and week out.
- I aim to equip the members of my church and other pastors in grasping the basics of biblical theology for their everyday disciple-making ministry and using biblical theology to gospelize the world. One dream I have is to see Los Angeles County filled with more healthy evangelical churches than less healthy evangelical churches. I can best influence pastors and churches to this end through pastoral ministry more than professorial ministry.
- I don’t want to leave the pastoral ministry now or ever. Doing a PhD opens doors to full time ministry in the academy (though the faculty posts to applicants is overly saturated in biblical and theological studies). But I want to be in the church full time. The local church is on the front lines of the battlefield, my giftedness and experience is in this area, and this is the one institution that Christ has set up that will last into eternity. I realize doctors for the church serve the church in an indirect and important way. I want to serve the church in a direct and important way.