Back to School: Part 2

 In Jason Bunger

Last year at this time, I wrote about going back to school to pursue a second master’s degree in theology.  To read last year’s blog, click here. I noted in that blog that, although I completed a Doctor of Ministry in 2011, I’ve been feeling I needed additional education.  After a long year of intense study, while continuing to pastor Hope Church, I graduated last month with a Master of Theology degree.  I want to thank my family and the Hope Church family for your prayers, support, patience and encouragement over this past year.

Which brings me to the question most often asked of me, “What did you get out of it?”  I think I can answer it in three ways.

  1. I got an amazing education.  I credit this to both teachers — and this student. I had the privilege of studying at a top-tier seminary with some outstanding professors.  These educators are the foremost experts in their fields of ministry.  I had been following many of their ministries and writings for some time. By the time I entered their class, I was ready — and they did not disappoint!  I am truly humbled to study, discuss and get to know personally such high-capacity pastors and leaders.
  2. I also learned I am a better student than I used to be. I am better at recognizing what I don’t know about ministry and the scriptures.  This allowed me to go into the classes with many more questions than I did the last time I was in school. Quite simply, the more questions you take into the class the more answers you have coming out of class.

  1. I made new friends.  Ministry can be a very isolating occupation. I took advantage of our class connections to get to know some seminary students well.  In particular, I got to hang out with some young men from New York during my residencies.  I was so refreshed by their faithfulness to the scriptures, clear call from God, and their commitment to scholarship, integrity and innovation.  They made a hugely positive, uplifting and encouraging impression on me.
  1. I earned a new diploma to hang on the wall. I know this sounds petty, but even though this is my 4th university/seminary degree, I was surprised at how much this meant to me!

First, Pastors are in the preaching and the people business…and any pastor will tell you that no sermon, and no person (including ourselves) is ever complete.  A pastor’s life is always a work in progress — we write sermons that are in progress and preach to people that are in progress. However, this diploma is a reminder to myself that I can start something and finish it.  It is no longer a work in progress.

Secondly, it affirms that I do think well at times. Because cultures are ever changing and the needs of the people in a pastors care are not predictable, pastoral leadership must be fluid. The requirements needed for a pastor to be an effective and caring pastoral leader constantly and quickly change. This often causes pastors to second guess their insights, judgements and decisions. I am no different.  This paper reminds me,  “Not every decision you make is wrong.  In fact, the foremost experts in your field are satisfied by your thought process on the most important things that matter: God, His word, and the souls of people.”  When I am confused, I trust that I will figure it out because I have done so at least once before.

In Ecclesiastes 12:12 it is written, “…Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Again, God’s word is true. I am weary from this past year.  However, I am extremely energized from all I have studied, the close friendships I’ve made and the reminder that we can finish what we start.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment