The New MDiv/MBA

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Paul J. Scharf's picture

These "joint degree" programs seem to be becoming quite popular. A healthy skepticism would suggest that it probably is more about a new way to market higher education than about strengthening academics or preparing students for the job market.

I question whether a person could wholeheartedly go through both programs of study (MDiv/MBA) at one time. We are already seeing the proliferation of what I consider to be unhealthy trends in seminaries – counting two years as three, giving double credit for college classes, giving graduate credit for life experience, etc. I fear this will speed up that process and move us further away from traditional theological education.

All that being said, I think that MDiv/MBA would be a great combination for some people, whether it be so that a pastor can more effectively oversee the business side of the church, or for some other purpose. But I would evaluate any joint degree program very carefully, and would only counsel someone to consider it if they really understood why they were doing it. It's probably not a good idea for the average person.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Jim's picture

“That’s because a usually quiet Veteran’s Day instead was spent handling an “administrative trifecta” —  one plumber demanding payment for previous work, finding another plumber to fix a leaking toilet, and hiring an electrician to replace fuses in the building’s 80-year-old fuse box.”

First advice: Delegate this stuff. Surely there is someone in the church who can address these administrative duties. 

An MBA is not about administrative minutiae


Advice for seminarians: Have a budget … balance a checkbook … manage your own finances. Find the balance of giving, saving, and spending. 


SBashoor's picture

Jim wrote:

First advice: Delegate this stuff. Surely there is someone in the church who can address these administrative duties. 

Yes, that is the ideal. But ideals often are far from attainable in small churches.  I've been in this same kind of situation more times than I'd like to remember. There are often times when there's literally no available, responsible lay-person to field these issues. I'm sure I've been a lousy delegator at times, but more times than not, there's just been no one else around to do some of this stuff.

I tell my students that they may need to adjust their expectations of what their default duties will entail if they end up in a solo-pastorate. Not uncommon to go one minute from parsing verbs to running off taggers, to fixing a broken lock, to running to the hardware store, to opening the bathroom for neighborhood kids, to adjusting the sprinklers to ....  At some point you have to be willing to give up on certain things, but there are some urgencies and necessities that come up where you're really the only one who's available to take care of it.

But I totally agree that you don't need an MBA for that kind of stuff. Some practical ministry reading in seminary combined with real life scenario lectures and related assignments might go a long way, though.



M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

Paul J's picture

I regularly meet with pastors of small churches and it is painfully clear that having a business foundation would be a wonderful addition to the skill-set for a pastor.  I've seen fast growing churches taken off course but messes on the administrative side of things.