To What Degree Should a Pastor Continue His Education?

I often think about this and I wonder what you all think. I have noticed that many long time pastors are not familiar with some of the newer theological errors/developments. Things like the New Perspective on Paul, developments in high and low textual criticism, developments in Greek language study, and several other important theological concepts may be totally off a pastor's radar. Several professional careers require continuing education credits. I am not suggesting anything compulsory but how does a pastor remain current?

How should a pastor deal with the fact that after seminary he is disconnected from formal training? I have heard some people suggest using theological blogs to know what to study. Conferences would be a huge benefit. I realize the enormous time constraints of ministry but maybe just taking one class a year would be possible. How about an online discussion forum set up through a seminary's alumnus program with a book club that includes discussion? The seminary could suggest a book and the alumni could discuss it.

Is this a problem in your opinion and if so what are some solutions?

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JD Miller's picture

I think this is a great question.  When I first glanced at the title, I thought it was a question about whether a pastor should have an MDIV etc.  I do not think that a pastor should ever complete his theological training no matter what level of formal education he has reached.  The point is that we should be continuing to learn. 

I like the idea of pastor's fellowships where there is an opportunity to discuss some of these things.  When I was in northern Iowa, we would get together and choose a book to read over the year and then discuss a few chapters each week.  This opened up the discussion to a lot of topics and continued to keep us challenged.  Josh, I like your other ideas as well.  I hope others chime in with more ideas too. I know Central Seminary has many opportunities throughout the year for pastors and others to come up for a day for added learning.  Perhaps a seminary could put together an online class once a year with updated topic overviews taught by multiple faculty members and sell it at a reasonalble rate that would both be affordable to pastors and an added revenue for the seminary or else we could just keep reading the Nick of Time Wink

TylerR's picture


There are plenty of options for busy Pastors to get continuing education. I'm a full-time Pastor with a lowly MA, but I'm plugging away at my MDiv one class at a time doing virtual classes. 

If you're on a budget and don't care about another degree, then audit a class for a fraction of the price. 

Take advantage of a summer module class that interests you; audit it if money is a factor. 

Read blogs and engage in some issues. Research something that interests you and write about it. 

Go to conferences. Go to robust Pastor's fellowships where a group of you get together and actually discuss things; not the fellowships where everybody just takes turns preaching. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?