Why FORMAL Education Still Works for Ministry

There seems to be a current trend that formal ministry education is “out of touch” or “lacks impact” for younger leaders. And, there are some valid reasons why:

Education Costs

  • The cost cost of education is higher,

  • The cost of living is higher (most people will work full-time and do youth ministry on the side),

  • The low pay salaries in ministry.

Obviously, there is a sacrifice and cost on education.

Education is overrated.

Most young leaders would rather grow through experience and find education through “hands on” training rather than pay for school.

Lack of educational contextualization. 

Education is not contextualized. The importance of having a formal degree in education fails to deal with real life ministry.


We live in an informational age. We can find anything we want/need on the internet. With that said, information can overwhelm us, bombard us and confuse us to a point of being paralyzed BY information.


More and more people are finding contextualized resources through social media, relationships, podcasts and common “interests.” This is a great model to learn, yet, has its limitations on character development for a young leader.

With that said, I think there is something to say about formal education. The Apostle Paul is a great example of what formal and ongoing education does IN ministry. We see...

1. Education helps leaders to think critically. Education helps train leaders to think critically and builds a culture of objectivity, not subjectivity. For example, we see Apostle Paul use his critical thinking skills when he argues the importance between Law and Grace (see Gal 1:6:7).

2. Education helps you go further faster in ministry. Too often, young leaders focus too much on the short-term gains versus the long-term effects and realities of ministry. Education helps you think long-term. Paul, for example, had to rethink his theology after his encounter with Jesus in Acts 9. He went away for 3 years to really examine himself before he went back into ministry. Because of those three years, we have Paul writing ⅓ of the New Testament.

3. Education grows leaders. If you look at New Testament reality, the Apostle Paul did more for the Gospel and the Kingdom than any other NT leader. Why? Because he was a leader, he had competent ministerial skills and his educational background made him a confident, powerful witness of Christ. Paul was the foundational vessel who reached the known world with the Gospel.

As leaders, we need to continue to grow. Why?

  1. Because experience is subjective. Experience will help you grow but not for the long haul. You need to continue to reinvent yourself, realign yourself and readjust yourself as a leader to continue to build Kingdom impact and influence in other people.

  2. Education helps you remain sharp. Yes, you can work really hard because of your experience, your talents and your abilities, but it is going to be education that will help you work smart. Ecclesiastes 10:10.

  3. Education keeps you humble. Education focuses on how to better yourself, focus on the mission versus ministry and bring out the best in how God created you to be.

  4. Education is NOT about pride, titles or certificates. It is about growing to be more like Christ so you can reach MORE people for Christ.

So, if you're reading this post today, I encourage you to rethink, reimagine and maybe apply for the #ANewMe Mentorship Journey so that you will be sharper, remain humble and go further faster in the long haul in ministry.

All the best in 2018.