In the second part of this short series I thought I might share on the Bible College student aspect of things. I’ve been able to study at 3 of them now and its been great and very useful for equipping for ministry.
Initially I decided to take up Bible College – not because wives were free for a year (cause they weren’t anymore, though most colleges these days allow them to audit something for free?) but basically I just wanted to learn more.
I had considered formal/paid ministry in the past. At that point though, I didn’t feel particularly called into it so I decided to do a one year full time stint instead at the same time as Chris. During uni, I had worked a little bit and I knew that I wasn’t suited at all to studying + job so I knew it would be hard to do it again. A mature couple suggested we start at the same time so that I would get to know Chris’s friends and continue to understand ‘his world’ even after I had completed my year, we found this super helpful. If you’re married I recommend this also.
Prior to starting, I had heard some stories of how bad it would be financially – some college couple having their date night and couldn’t afford to even buy an ice-cream or something. But honestly, with God providing through the secular work I’ve done + our wonderful government + our wonderful family we really didn’t have anything to worry about. Of course, we did have to watch our spending/holidays particularly but it wasn’t too bad.
What Surprised Me About College:
- It’s Academically Challenging: I knew it was going to be hard, but one thing I didn’t think about was that I was studying at a post-graduate level. Writing essays at that level took a lot of practice. It felt like uni again, just praying for a Pass. As a lay leader, you fall into this thinking that you know everything. I soon discovered that I didn’t know much at all and there were these whole new level of commentaries that I didn’t know existed and I didn’t know what they were talking about. They would take 10 pages to talk about one verse. Very humbling. I think lots of people struggle with this, there are resources/ways to get better if you need them – don’t struggle alone!
- The Community: I was a day student (didn’t live on campus). Lots of people said that the community at college was close, family/church like. To be honest, I found it quite daunting. I suppose I just had to be realistic about the number of close relationships I could have and the feeling of not knowing people/feeling comfortable. This is only my experience, I’m sure others found it much easier. Havng said that I made good friends in the one year.
- The Lecturers: Wow they actually care about you! it’s so nice to have your lecturers care about you personally, display grace in an academic environment, and pray for you. Study was important but not as important as your family and walk with God.
- I still slept: Yeah I have this bad habit developed at uni of sleeping through lectures. I thought I would just love all my subjects. You have your interesting lectures and the ones that are less interesting/more difficult, even when its on the Bible. I wish I paid more attention.
- Church History: we have such a rich Christian history with some amazing people. Most of the arguments/issues we talk about now have already been talked about somewhere down the line. There really isn’t anything that new.
- Biblical views: I realised that the Christianity I knew was not necessarily ‘the Biblical view’ that all Christians shared. The people who did not hold to the same view that I did were not sinful or dumb. There were some amazing, godly and smart people in the past (and now) who would disagree with the views I had on womens roles, ethnic churches, predestination, translations etc. It helped sharpen (or tone down/change) some of the views I held and challenged me why I held onto them. It helped me to understand what to make an issue of and what not to make an issue of and when.
- More knowledge doesn’t necessarily equal intimacy with God/better ministry: a lot of us struggled in our walks with God. It was easy to be consumed with learning stuff about God instead of cultivating relationship with God. I guess we already knew this but yeah it becomes apparent we’re asked to serve by cleaning up lunch before our exam time. We still needed to protect that time with God.
Unfortunately at the end of college you realise you really probably won’t be together again until heaven, with people going to serve all over the world, at the same time its so encouraging.
Through that year I discovered the subjects I’m passionate about and I’m really blessed to be able to go back now and continue more studying in Brisbane.
I really encourage Christians to think about spending some time studying at bible college, you won’t regret it. As to which one, there are plenty of good ones around with different focuses/distinctives, depends on what sort of ministry goals you are tending towards I guess, just have a chat to those who’ve been and I’m sure they’ll help you out.