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Missionary Training

Should Missionaries Get a Master’s Degree?

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Written by Jim Raymo

I had been in missions for years working very sufficiently with my Bachelor’s degree and the ongoing learning I had experienced in the midst of varying mission contexts. While leading our mission’s candidate orientation program, I found myself engaged in discussions with applicants, some of whom held Master’s degrees.  I didn’t always feel confident in my understanding of various delicate theological and missiological questions that arose.  Although I had previously been encouraged to consider undertaking a Master’s level study program myself, I had wondered if having a Bachelor’s degree and years of mission experience wasn’t enough.  Would all the work and cost of gaining a Master’s degree be worth it? I decided to begin the studies, but I wasn’t convinced they would be relevant to my work and have the value I hoped. Almost immediately I found that I was being challenged academically, spiritually, and cross-culturally. The courses were valuable, and as a result, I was felt increasingly confident at being able to fulfill my role in evaluating and training new missionary candidates.

The Benefits of Getting Your Master’s Degree

For any would-be students of a Master’s Program, there are many good residential and online programs available.  Among them is the program we have built here at Bethany Global University for workers ministering cross-culturally. These courses seek to:
  • Provide applicable, challenging studies integrating biblical, theological and cross-cultural content
  • Provide spiritually transforming courses that challenge students to increase their understanding of God and His Word as well deepening their walk with, and love for, the Lord based on His teachings and acts in history
  • Provide forums so that adult students may engage with others from a wide variety of nations, cultures, ministries and evangelical theological perspectives
  • Provide a cost structure that is affordable for all, including students from developing nations
Missionary agencies constantly encourage their workers to be “lifelong learners.”  This applies not just to the Bible or other knowledge, but to becoming a biblical leader and teacher. Knowing the Bible is not the same as being trained to apply text and theology in a variety of cross-cultural contexts. Bethany’s programs are designed for those interested in Intercultural Leadership,  Intercultural Education, and Intercultural Studies. For us, the bottom line is competence and transformation. One of our course designers, Dr. John Kayser, writes:
“Education should inherently be concerned with the question of competence.  You and I, as teachers, are concerned with far more than merely pouring information into empty crania.  We would like to see our students depart from campus, or study program (hopefully!!) with adequate spiritual, mental, inter­personal, emotional, and ministry competencies.”
One of our current students recently commented regarding a course assignment:
“I think it’s the first paper I have ever written that ‘wrote itself and everything I was reading and learning was interesting. Although the material wasn’t new to me, I had a superficial knowledge of my church’s history, theology and how and why it approached world missions (and partnerships) the way it does.  Now I’m excited about taking what I learned and ensuring all our volunteers serving for a year or longer get some of this in their orientation.  I think what I’m learning will help me relate even better to ordained elders when I attend meetings for pastors.  Since about 1/2 the people in my department (those offering stateside support services for missionaries) are not from my denomination, I am confident it would help them in their work to know many of the things I learned when writing this paper.  I plan to share bits and pieces of this in future “Free Talk Fridays,” when we gather for informal staff meetings.   I really like this class; I wish I knew some of this years ago.”

—Deb Miller

For me personally, the Master’s degree meant increased confidence in a variety of theological and mission discussions. It also met a preferred status within my mission and later opened the door to a doctoral program while teaching at a university. I was also able to find a publisher for both my Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertation which in turn opened the door to workshop and conference presentations in my areas of study and research. Possibly you might have other reasons to consider a Master’s program including a visa or vocational requirement. If so perhaps you should consider the value one of the study programs BGU has to offer you.

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>Australia</option><option value='Austria' >Austria</option><option value='Azerbaijan' >Azerbaijan</option><option value='Bahamas' >Bahamas</option><option value='Bahrain' >Bahrain</option><option value='Bangladesh' >Bangladesh</option><option value='Barbados' >Barbados</option><option value='Belarus' >Belarus</option><option value='Belgium' >Belgium</option><option value='Belize' >Belize</option><option value='Benin' >Benin</option><option value='Bermuda' >Bermuda</option><option value='Bhutan' >Bhutan</option><option value='Bolivia' >Bolivia</option><option value='Bosnia and Herzegovina' >Bosnia and Herzegovina</option><option value='Botswana' >Botswana</option><option value='Brazil' >Brazil</option><option value='Brunei' >Brunei</option><option value='Bulgaria' >Bulgaria</option><option value='Burkina Faso' >Burkina Faso</option><option value='Burundi' >Burundi</option><option value='Cambodia' >Cambodia</option><option value='Cameroon' >Cameroon</option><option value='Canada' >Canada</option><option value='Cape Verde' >Cape Verde</option><option value='Cayman Islands' >Cayman Islands</option><option value='Central African Republic' >Central African Republic</option><option value='Chad' >Chad</option><option value='Chile' >Chile</option><option value='China' >China</option><option value='Colombia' >Colombia</option><option value='Comoros' >Comoros</option><option value='Congo, Democratic Republic of the' >Congo, Democratic Republic of the</option><option value='Congo, Republic of the' >Congo, Republic of the</option><option value='Costa Rica' >Costa Rica</option><option value='C&ocirc;te d&#039;Ivoire' >C&ocirc;te d&#039;Ivoire</option><option value='Croatia' >Croatia</option><option value='Cuba' >Cuba</option><option value='Cyprus' >Cyprus</option><option value='Czech Republic' >Czech Republic</option><option value='Denmark' >Denmark</option><option value='Djibouti' >Djibouti</option><option value='Dominica' >Dominica</option><option value='Dominican Republic' >Dominican Republic</option><option value='East Timor' >East Timor</option><option value='Ecuador' >Ecuador</option><option value='Egypt' >Egypt</option><option value='El Salvador' >El Salvador</option><option value='Equatorial Guinea' >Equatorial Guinea</option><option value='Eritrea' >Eritrea</option><option value='Estonia' >Estonia</option><option value='Ethiopia' >Ethiopia</option><option value='Fiji' >Fiji</option><option value='Finland' >Finland</option><option value='France' >France</option><option value='French Polynesia' >French Polynesia</option><option value='Gabon' >Gabon</option><option value='Gambia' >Gambia</option><option value='Georgia' >Georgia</option><option value='Germany' >Germany</option><option value='Ghana' >Ghana</option><option value='Greece' >Greece</option><option value='Greenland' >Greenland</option><option value='Grenada' >Grenada</option><option value='Guam' >Guam</option><option value='Guatemala' >Guatemala</option><option value='Guinea' >Guinea</option><option value='Guinea-Bissau' >Guinea-Bissau</option><option value='Guyana' >Guyana</option><option value='Haiti' >Haiti</option><option value='Honduras' >Honduras</option><option value='Hong Kong' >Hong Kong</option><option value='Hungary' >Hungary</option><option value='Iceland' >Iceland</option><option value='India' >India</option><option value='Indonesia' >Indonesia</option><option value='Iran' >Iran</option><option value='Iraq' >Iraq</option><option value='Ireland' >Ireland</option><option value='Israel' >Israel</option><option value='Italy' >Italy</option><option value='Jamaica' >Jamaica</option><option value='Japan' >Japan</option><option value='Jordan' >Jordan</option><option value='Kazakhstan' >Kazakhstan</option><option value='Kenya' >Kenya</option><option value='Kiribati' >Kiribati</option><option value='North Korea' >North Korea</option><option value='South Korea' >South Korea</option><option value='Kosovo' >Kosovo</option><option value='Kuwait' >Kuwait</option><option value='Kyrgyzstan' >Kyrgyzstan</option><option value='Laos' >Laos</option><option value='Latvia' >Latvia</option><option value='Lebanon' >Lebanon</option><option value='Lesotho' >Lesotho</option><option value='Liberia' >Liberia</option><option value='Libya' >Libya</option><option value='Liechtenstein' >Liechtenstein</option><option value='Lithuania' >Lithuania</option><option value='Luxembourg' >Luxembourg</option><option value='Macedonia' >Macedonia</option><option value='Madagascar' >Madagascar</option><option value='Malawi' >Malawi</option><option value='Malaysia' >Malaysia</option><option value='Maldives' >Maldives</option><option value='Mali' >Mali</option><option value='Malta' >Malta</option><option value='Marshall Islands' >Marshall Islands</option><option value='Mauritania' >Mauritania</option><option value='Mauritius' >Mauritius</option><option value='Mexico' >Mexico</option><option value='Micronesia' >Micronesia</option><option value='Moldova' 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value='Paraguay' >Paraguay</option><option value='Peru' >Peru</option><option value='Philippines' >Philippines</option><option value='Poland' >Poland</option><option value='Portugal' >Portugal</option><option value='Puerto Rico' >Puerto Rico</option><option value='Qatar' >Qatar</option><option value='Romania' >Romania</option><option value='Russian Federation (the)' >Russian Federation (the)</option><option value='Rwanda' >Rwanda</option><option value='Saint Kitts and Nevis' >Saint Kitts and Nevis</option><option value='Saint Lucia' >Saint Lucia</option><option value='Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' >Saint Vincent and the Grenadines</option><option value='Samoa' >Samoa</option><option value='San Marino' >San Marino</option><option value='Sao Tome and Principe' >Sao Tome and Principe</option><option value='Saudi Arabia' >Saudi Arabia</option><option value='Senegal' >Senegal</option><option value='Serbia and Montenegro' >Serbia and Montenegro</option><option value='Seychelles' >Seychelles</option><option value='Sierra Leone' >Sierra Leone</option><option value='Singapore' >Singapore</option><option value='Slovakia' >Slovakia</option><option value='Slovenia' >Slovenia</option><option value='Solomon Islands' >Solomon Islands</option><option value='Somalia' >Somalia</option><option value='South Africa' >South Africa</option><option value='Spain' >Spain</option><option value='Sri Lanka' >Sri Lanka</option><option value='Sudan' >Sudan</option><option value='Sudan, South' >Sudan, South</option><option value='Suriname' >Suriname</option><option value='Swaziland' >Swaziland</option><option value='Sweden' >Sweden</option><option value='Switzerland' >Switzerland</option><option value='Syria' >Syria</option><option value='Taiwan' >Taiwan</option><option value='Tajikistan' >Tajikistan</option><option value='Tanzania' >Tanzania</option><option value='Thailand' >Thailand</option><option value='Togo' >Togo</option><option value='Tonga' >Tonga</option><option value='Trinidad and Tobago' >Trinidad and Tobago</option><option value='Tunisia' >Tunisia</option><option value='Turkey' >Turkey</option><option value='Turkmenistan' >Turkmenistan</option><option value='Tuvalu' >Tuvalu</option><option value='Uganda' >Uganda</option><option value='Ukraine' >Ukraine</option><option value='United Arab Emirates' >United Arab Emirates</option><option value='United Kingdom' >United Kingdom</option><option value='Uruguay' >Uruguay</option><option value='Uzbekistan' >Uzbekistan</option><option value='Vanuatu' >Vanuatu</option><option value='Vatican City' >Vatican City</option><option value='Venezuela' >Venezuela</option><option value='Vietnam' >Vietnam</option><option value='Virgin Islands, British' >Virgin Islands, British</option><option value='Virgin Islands, U.S.' >Virgin Islands, U.S.</option><option value='Yemen' >Yemen</option><option value='Zambia' >Zambia</option><option value='Zimbabwe' >Zimbabwe</option></select></div></li><li id='field_35_16' class='gfield gf_left_half gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_35_16' >Zip / Postal Code<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_16' id='input_35_16' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Zip / Postal Code' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_35_12' class='gfield gf_right_half gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_35_12' >State<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_select'><select name='input_12' id='input_35_12' class='medium gfield_select' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"><option value='AL' >Alabama</option><option value='AK' >Alaska</option><option value='AZ' >Arizona</option><option value='AR' >Arkansas</option><option value='CA' >California</option><option value='CO' >Colorado</option><option value='CT' >Connecticut</option><option value='CE' >Delaware</option><option value='DC' >District of Columbia</option><option value='FL' >Florida</option><option value='GA' >Georgia</option><option value='HI' >Hawaii</option><option value='ID' >Idaho</option><option value='IL' >Illinois</option><option value='IN' >Indiana</option><option value='IA' >Iowa</option><option value='KS' >Kansas</option><option value='KY' >Kentucky</option><option value='LA' >Louisiana</option><option value='ME' >Maine</option><option value='MD' >Maryland</option><option value='MA' >Massachusetts</option><option value='MI' >Michigan</option><option value='MN' >Minnesota</option><option value='MS' >Mississippi</option><option value='MO' >Missouri</option><option value='MT' >Montana</option><option value='NE' >Nebraska</option><option value='NV' >Nevada</option><option value='NH' >New Hampshire</option><option value='NJ' >New Jersey</option><option value='NM' >New Mexico</option><option value='NY' >New York</option><option value='NC' >North Carolina</option><option value='NC' >North Dakota</option><option value='OH' >Ohio</option><option value='OK' >Oklahoma</option><option value='OR' >Oregon</option><option value='PA' >Pennsylvania</option><option value='RI' >Rhode Island</option><option value='SC' >South Carolina</option><option value='SD' >South Dakota</option><option value='TN' >Tennessee</option><option value='TX' >Texas</option><option value='UT' >Utah</option><option value='VT' >Vermont</option><option value='VA' >Virginia</option><option value='WA' >Washington</option><option value='WV' >West Virginia</option><option value='WI' >Wisconsin</option><option value='WY' >Wyoming</option></select></div></li><li id='field_35_13' class='gfield gf_right_half gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_35_13' >Province/Region<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_13' id='input_35_13' type='text' value='' class='medium' placeholder='Province/Region' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_35_19' class='gfield label_show gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_35_19' >Which degree are you interested in?<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_select'><select name='input_19' id='input_35_19' class='medium gfield_select' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"><option value='Undergraduate' selected='selected'>Bachelor&#039;s Degree</option><option value='Graduate' >Master&#039;s Degree</option></select></div></li><li id='field_35_23' class='gfield gfield_html gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><p>To enroll in a masters program you must have earned a Bachelor's degree prior to enrollment.</p></li><li id='field_35_6' class='gfield label_show gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_35_6' >Year of High School Graduation (or expected)<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_select'><select name='input_6' id='input_35_6' class='medium gfield_select' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"><option value='' selected='selected'>Please Select Year</option><option value='2023 and later' >2023 and later</option><option value='2022' >2022</option><option value='2021' >2021</option><option value='2020' >2020</option><option value='2019' >2019</option><option value='2018' >2018</option><option value='2017' >2017</option><option value='2016' >2016</option><option value='2015' >2015</option><option value='2014' >2014</option><option value='2013' >2013</option><option value='2012' >2012</option><option value='2011' >2011</option><option value='2010' >2010</option><option value='2009' >2009</option><option value='2008' >2008</option><option value='2007' >2007</option><option value='2006' >2006</option><option value='2005' >2005</option><option value='2004' >2004</option><option value='2003' >2003</option><option value='2002' >2002</option><option value='2001' >2001</option><option value='2000' >2000</option><option value='1999 and before' >1999 and before</option></select></div></li><li id='field_35_20' class='gfield label_show gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_35_20' >Year of College Graduation (or expected)<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_select'><select name='input_20' id='input_35_20' class='medium gfield_select' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"><option value='' selected='selected'>Please Select Year</option><option value='2023 and later' >2023 and later</option><option value='2022' >2022</option><option value='2021' >2021</option><option value='2020' >2020</option><option value='2019' >2019</option><option value='2018' >2018</option><option value='2017' >2017</option><option value='2016' >2016</option><option value='2015' >2015</option><option value='2014' >2014</option><option value='2013' >2013</option><option value='2012' >2012</option><option value='2011' >2011</option><option value='2010' >2010</option><option value='2009' >2009</option><option value='2008' >2008</option><option value='2007' >2007</option><option value='2006' >2006</option><option value='2005' >2005</option><option value='2004' >2004</option><option value='2003' >2003</option><option value='2002' >2002</option><option value='2001' >2001</option><option value='2000' >2000</option><option value='1999 and before' >1999 and before</option></select></div></li><li id='field_35_22' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' >On a scale of 1-5, how interested are you in this program?</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_radio'><ul class='gfield_radio' id='input_35_22'><li class='gchoice_35_22_0'><input name='input_22' type='radio' value='5' id='choice_35_22_0' /><label for='choice_35_22_0' id='label_35_22_0'>5 - Looks Amazing! Sign me up today!</label></li><li class='gchoice_35_22_1'><input name='input_22' type='radio' value='4' id='choice_35_22_1' /><label for='choice_35_22_1' id='label_35_22_1'>4 - Looks great! 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