Why Bible Colleges Are Closing…

In support of Tyler’s comments, young people headed into any form of ministry would be well-advised to learn a trade that will provide them with a regular source of income. We’re living in a day where a diploma or even and advanced degree in Bible isn’t going to put food on the table. I worked retail with people who had degrees in English, psychology, art, philosophy, and Bible who were selling furniture with me.

I’d like to see a revival of the Christian trade school.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

[Greg Long]

I'm not completely disagreeing with your advocacy for getting a secular bachelor's degree, Tyler, but once again I will just emphasize that in most cases an MA is not enough training for pastoral ministry.

Couple of ways of approaching this. for starters, given how many people get the right boot of fellowship--the search committee I'm on has interviewed a few such guys--I'm sure part of Tyler's point is to say don’t rely on church employment to feed, clothe, and house your family. Nasty indictment of too many churches out there, but it’s real. That’s probably 75% of the reason for advocating a secular BA or BS, really.

Regarding an MA “not being enough”, in my mind a good picture of “what is enough?” is suggested by the article we’re responding to. A central part of the thesis, again, is that a lot of formerly fundamental/conservative evangelical schools are becoming weak on doctrines of human sexuality and its consequences in families, churches, and society as a whole. A gut check for a prospective pastor would be; explain how doctrines of sexuality are linked with other important doctrines. My hunch is that a lot of prospective and working pastors would be effectively limited to quoting “one woman man” in 1 Timothy and Titus, along with Ephesians 5.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

I would say it is a couple of other factors. First, Christian schools, long the staple for University feeders, is dwindling, and definitely the quality of the graduates is dwindling. Second, online education is becoming much more pervasive. Whether you argue that is inferior to a standard college attendance approach, the cost and convenience is just outweighing the perceived negative nature of it. In addition, the younger generation is just consuming things on the internet more. Third, I believe the rise homeschooling is hurting the attendance. Most homeschooling models employ some form of remote or online coursework and most are not a traditional model. Therefore for most homeschoolers who have taken their last 4 years online, to continue online is not much of a stretch. Fourth, dual enrollment. With the rise of schools that offer you to take your first two years of college as part of the last two years of high school drops the need for kids to attend the first two years at all. Lastly, the cost. BJU is now $25K a year. For most Christian parents this is too great a cost. My son is attending a local community college for $2,500 a year, lives at home, and attends and participates in our local church.

I think there is a number of elements at play that colleges were not really getting prepared for. I think there is still a strong place for Christian education at the secondary level, and I think the right schools can succeed, I just don’t think the volume is there, nor may it ever be there.

dgszweda wrote:

I think there is a number of elements at play that colleges were not really getting prepared for.

From what I’ve seen, MBU is leading the field in preparing for this environment. They’re clearly the best-positioned fundamentalist school to tackle the challenges and opportunities of university and graduate education in the 21st century. No other fundamentalist institution even comes close. That’s not surprising, ‘cuz MBU is the best …

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

The President of Faith Baptist Bible College, Jim Tillotson, is a proven, visionary, builder. He is reaching out to churches which are not in the traditional GARBC orbit and the school is offering quality training and scholarship at a reasonable price. Faith makes a great effort to give prospective students an attractive taste of school through their “Scholarship Weekends”. A really nice bonus is that tuition is offered at par for Canadian students!

David, perhaps not the central issue here, but when you have the time, I’d love to hear more about why you think K-12 Christian schools are getting worse in quality.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

I know a man on Faith’s board who referred to Tillotson as a “modern-day Apostle Paul.” He was being slightly sarcastic (I think!), but Faith has indeed been resurgent in the past few years since Tillotson took the reigns …

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

[Bert Perry]

David, perhaps not the central issue here, but when you have the time, I’d love to hear more about why you think K-12 Christian schools are getting worse in quality.


Don’t get me wrong there are some great Christian Schools out there. My view is based on my experience, having either attended or my children attending more than 6 Christian Schools. I grew up in the beginnings of Christian Schools in the 70’s and 80’s and attended what was considered one of the premier Christian schools at the time. My kids have been in both Christian schools and public schools. The last Christian school they attended is considered one of the largest at 2,000 kids. A school of that size has considerable resources. The sports teams compete at the premier level in the state and the football team is often ranked in the top 5 in the nation, with many of the football players in the pro’s. What I have seen in a school this size, where the school is not wanting in money and has the resources, they must compromise on many of their principles to get there. My kids were exposed to sex, drugs and everything else. People were brought into the sports programs who were not Christian to help fund the school. And with all that the education was mediocre at best.

On the other side of the spectrum which is all the more prevalent, you have the struggling Christian School. I went to a BJU fellowship dinner in Pittsburgh and it was well attended by many Christian school administrators around the area, including into West Virginia. I talked to many of them, and every single one was struggling. Most of them were cutting classes and/or grades, and were stacking teachers. One of my relatives graduated from BJU and the struggle that this relative had, as did many of there friends was that they were forced to work in a school for very little pay and teaching classes that they had no formal education in because of a lack of teachers or a lack of ability to pay for more teachers. This particular relative (only two years after graduation) dropped out from teaching in Christian school because it was depressing as did many of their friends.

There are some pockets of good ones, no doubt. But from what I experienced in the 80’s to today, it has significantly declined. Too many schools are closing down or dropping grades. Teachers are paid miniscule amounts of money, that they would struggle to live on, and too many are required to teach 5 to 6 courses. While having a Biblical world view is awesome, at what cost does it come with. What quality do we feel we are giving our kids when we pay the teachers $18,000 a year and often times out of that they have to pay for classroom supplies.

I have also had my kids in some top notch public schools, and while the worldview is awful and the lack of Christian values non existent, the quality of the teachers and the care that the teachers had for the students was something I never saw at any of the Christian schools that I have been exposed to. Whereas if my kids struggled in a class in Christian school it was often labeled as sin, in the public school, the teachers and principles met 1:1 with my wife and I to put together a plan to help my kid succeed.

I am not saying public school is better than Christian school, each parent needs to make their own choice that is sovereign to them, I have just personally seen the quality of education in many Christian schools declining.

BA - Bible college with strong academics (27 credits of Greek and 12 of Hebrew at the undergrad)
24 credits towards an MBA.
11 years experience in transportation operations. Pastoring a small church, I can’t really find much work around here that pays what I need to survive. So in the fall, I’m going back to trade school/community college (at 35) to learn a trade to be able to support my family.
Was Bible College worth it? Yes, for what I received. Has my life been better financially because of it? No. But one must consider “homo spiritualis” as well as “homo economicus” when making a decision on how to spend 4 years of one’s life and tens of thousands of dollars


Here’s my story:

  • AA at 18 (thanks, local high school for paying for community college)
  • BA in Emergency & Disaster Mgmt while in the service, at 27 (thanks Navy!)
  • MA in Bible from Maranatha at 29 (thanks GI Bill!)
  • MDiv from Maranatha will be finished one day … if I can figure out Hebrew! (thanks GI Bill!)

Training in military police helped me get my current job, where I (along with another man) lead and supervise all the regulatory insurance fraud investigators in Washington State. I am very, very, very, very grateful for God’s grace in giving me a profession I can use outside pastoral ministry. As I mentioned above, I think young men should avoid Bible undergrads at all costs.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

  • BA in Pastoral Studies, NIU
  • MA in Pastoral Studies, BJU
  • 14+ years and now a system manager for a nonprofit. Started as data entry clerk and worked my way up.

Haven’t pastored full time a day in my life, and probably never will; cost of living is just too high.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells


First, Christian schools, long the staple for University feeders, is dwindling, and definitely the quality of the graduates is dwindling.


My high school alma mater. Many of you will be familiar with this school as being operated by Fourth Baptist Church (Plymouth, MN).

Enrollment this year is at 268, up from 217 last year (a 24% yoy increase).

The average ACT score is very good, and numerous students have been either National Merit Scholars or Commended in recent years.

The facilities are excellent; the school is housed in Fourth Baptist’s 130,000 square foot building, opened in 1998:


Economic factors in play:

  • Wages are stagnant (thinking the parents … the ones who really pay)
  • Ministry salaries (the teacher, the pastor) are weak (no stats but anecdotal ). My sense is that there is an oversupply of men who prepared for a pastoral vocation in relationship to available, paying, vocational positions
  • College costs going up 3% per year
  • Demographics
  • Well paying jobs can be had without college

Another Christian school bucking the trend. Grand View Christian School is technically only 3 1/2 years old, although its roots go back to the 70s as a Baptist church school. It has grown from 260 students at the start of the 2014-2015 school year to over 400 students now (K-12).

They are a fully accredited school K-8 school and have a special accreditation in grades 9-12 through College Prep status. College Prep status means that at least 80% of a school’s graduates, every year, must be accepted into a 4 year college or university. Over the years, they have consistently averaged over 90% of our students being accepted into 4 year institutions.

At the very outset of the formation of the school, the school board and administration sought out and formed a “pastoral council” of local church pastors (of which I am one) to try to help keep the school doctrinally and spiritually sound. They want to actually be a “Christian” (evangelical) school, not just a private school with Christian in the name.

They have outgrown the current facility and are seeking the Lord’s will for what’s next.


Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

As far as Bible college is concerned, I am one of what I would guess is thousands upon thousands of men in pastoral ministry who benefited from and continue to be thankful for their Bible college (and seminary) experience. I was taught the Bible, theology, and pastoral ministry, began serving in a local church (was asked to be the volunteer leader of the “youth group”—1 teenager—at a church plant, turned into my first vocational pastoral experience), traveled on summer ministry teams, made lasting ministry friendships, and met and married my wife. Obviously I didn’t think Bible college was sufficient in and of itself for me personally as I went on to get an MDiv (and eventually an EdD). But I have absolutely no regrets. It has served me well in my vocation of pastoral ministry, to which I believed (and still believe) I was called.

Of course, my experience does not prove Bible college is necessary any more than anyone else’s experience proves Bible college is unnecessary.

Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University