Gordon-Conwell Blog

The Value of an Accredited Online Seminary

May 17, 2012

We recently launched our Online Master of Arts in Religion degree program with several concentrations designed to equip you for ministry. The following blog details the importance of attending an accredited online seminary.

While there are many factors in deciding which seminary is the right one for you, one thing you should never overlook is the accreditation of the seminary. Academic accreditation exists for an important purpose—that of protecting you, the student. Accreditation shows you that the seminary you are considering attending has been evaluated by an impartial outside agency that has determined that the seminary meets a strict set of requirements.

While not all accrediting agencies are the same, they are all looking to ensure that the quality of education one receives in the seminary is of the highest possible quality. To do this, they review a number of things, including:

So, what benefit does accreditation provide to you as a learner who wishes to further your theological education?

  1. A degree from an accredited seminary or university is accepted by all other accredited seminaries and universities. Should you desire to continue your education and pursue a doctoral degree, your master’s degree from an accredited seminary is essential.
  2. You are guaranteed that the education provided by that seminary is of high quality. Accrediting agencies review an institution’s curriculum, faculty, and resources against a strict set of standards to ensure that it is providing the best education possible.
  3. Employers often require their employees to hold degrees from an accredited institution. This assures them of the quality and rigor of the individual’s preparation.
  4. If you are seeking financial aid to help finance the cost of your education, government grants for higher education will only be paid to accredited institutions. As far as the Department of Education is concerned, accreditation is the seal of approval on the seminary.

The accreditation of the seminary or institution you attend gives you peace of mind that the time and money you invest in your education will earn you a quality degree that will be recognized as excellent professional development.

Learn more about our Online Master of Arts in Religion degree!

Tags: current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , future students , Online MAR

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Finishing Well, Part 3: The Trailhead

May 10, 2012

Megan Hackman

Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!

You know you’re graduating seminary when:

  1. Someone’s looking for a word to describe nasty tea they just spit out. Appropriate words would be lukewarm or tepid and all you can think is like Revelation.
  2. A prospective student is looking for a specific kind of church—church plant, charismatic-friendly, and with opportunities for discipleship—and you not only know which church he’ll love, but you know who to connect him with. Low and behold, they’re old college buddies.
  3. You’re supposed to be journaling reflections about a missions class, but the content quickly becomes the thesis for your exegesis paper in Isaiah 56.

All these things actually happened in one day. So I guess it is time to settle into the idea that my husband and I are graduating seminary in just a few days, which means we probably should already have applied to a ton of jobs and know what we are doing next. But we haven’t, and we don’t know. Well, we don’t know exactly.

See this journey that we are on originated for me in a rejection from a choice college that then became a pursuit of Spanish and a passion for Spain. Then we went on to pursue missions which led to seminary (see Part 1 and Part 2 if those appear as the tremendous jumps they are). We are fueled with a passionate desire to see people love Jesus and to live as followers of Jesus their whole life. We believe this means living as individual members of the body of Christ, the Church. We are passionate about serving the Body as a whole and its individual members. So really, that could lead us anywhere on this planet.

But that doesn’t necessarily make the job search any easier. So we are thankful for alumni who have gone before us and are married couples serving the church together. We have begun to meet with them in hopes of gaining a language and a vision for living out this passion in a way that can be articulated in job interviews. We plan to apply to EPC churches all over the United States to serve as pastors. We keep our hearts and ears open for unconventional opportunities to serve that might not yet be known to us.

We had an experience in April that led us to both this step-by-step pursuit as well as this open-handedness. We were in our favorite getaway of New England, the Adirondacks of New York. We had planned to climb a nice, short mountain. We knew how long it was (.5 miles), we knew what skill level was involved (a nice junior hike, said the book), and we knew it would have a “nice” view from the top (said a friend). And it was all those things, and it was nice. We prayed and read Scripture and enjoyed the view:

 

Then we ventured to the next trailhead. We knew the name. We didn’t bother to look at the trail guide, so we didn’t know how long it was (way more than .5) or the skill required (steep gradients, as it turns out). We didn’t even know if the summit would be worth it all. But oh my, was it ever:

It was a hard hike. I dealt with significant fear involving ice slides, encroaching darkness, and physical pain. But Jesus met me in the fear and taught me a lot about the fears I have about the next steps of life. I was overwhelmed with God’s abundant creation glory at the top of the mountain. This was no “sit and enjoy the view” kind of mountaintop. It was a “come-to-Jesus, awe-struck, laugh and cry at the same time” kind of view.

So should I anticipate Plan A, the Owls Head mountains of life with predictable, relative ease and nice views? Maybe. Those are really nice sometimes! But I long for the come-to-Jesus, awe-struck, laugh and cry, Cascade-style ventures.

So to find the “End of the Story” at this point, we are in the application process, preparing for ordination, and finishing our final 2 classes. We have our eyes peeled for those trailheads. We anticipate meeting God both in the struggle of climbing the mountain and in the glory to come on the top.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , equipping leaders for the church and society , spiritually vital , student blogger , student life , thoughtfully evangelical

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What a fantastic post, so very well written, so inspiring. Thanks for making time to write these. God bless you.
Jeff Nichols 9:21AM 05/11/12

Finishing Well Part 2: Discovering Myself

May 03, 2012

Megan Hackman

Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!

So I once felt like I had misheard God (for more on that, see Part 1). Seminary, then, has in large part been about learning to hear God correctly. One of my very favorite things that I have learned in seminary began in Old Testament Survey and then carried on through Exegesis of Exodus—our God hears, remembers, sees, knows, and acts by coming and speaking to his people (see Exodus 2:24- on). We serve a living God!

Being a part of the Pierce Center has helped me be aware of how God is speaking. I have learned how to sit with a group of people and listen and pray with the Holy Spirit through the Word. I have learned that I need Sabbath rest on a weekly basis in order to tune out the distractions of work, study, and relationships for a few hours so that I can enter with a greater awareness into God’s presence in order to hear from him (Hebrews 4:11-16). That discipline has helped me to be more alert throughout the week to the places where God is transforming me more into his likeness (2 Corinthians 3:16-18). It has helped me to consider it joy when I face trials, because I expect and anticipate God to be working in me through them (James 1:2-4).

As I have listened I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about God. I have learned that God has made me as a human being in his image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, God values who I am and the way in which he has made me in particular (Psalm 139). Through the Dynamics of the Spiritual Life class, I began to discover who that woman is and begin to see how my design works out in what I do. My final paper worked out the memories, experiences, jobs, core lies, victories, and goals that lead me to say, I exist to glorify God by inviting discovery.

So even as I now work on digging deeply into Isaiah 56 for an exegesis course and talk with college students for an evangelism class, I continue to live out my calling to invite others into the discovery of Christ, of their own design, of how God speaks and remembers and acts in the world, of Scripture, of friendship. As we look to what is next for us, I carry with me this rich academic and spiritual exploration that the last three years have been. I anticipate that whether we go overseas or serve in a more local setting, regardless of task, that God has made me to be someone who looks to dig into the soil of this world, with the power of the Spirit to seek and to nurture the work that he is doing, and with the hope to see the harvest brought in for his glory.

Megan Hackman and her husband, Larry, are M.Div. students at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus.

Tags: Author: Megan Hackman , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger

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