Taking my next steps

At Journey, our mission is about helping people take their next step. For us as a church that usually means taking a next step in their relationship with Jesus, and EVERYone has a next step. When we stay in one place too long things start to stagnate – and that goes for all aspects of life, not just spiritual.

That’s why last fall, I decided to take a next step in my life. I decided to go back to school and continue my education. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for some time but never really knew how I was going to make it work. Working full-time in ministry is a lot like working two jobs at times – being in the office 40 hours a week, plus all the evening meetings, rehearsals and stuff don’t leave lots of time for going to school. And since I already have an Associate Degree in music and over 10 years of ministry experience it’s not exactly like I’m unqualified for my position. But regardless, I’d been feeling the need to take a next step in my education.

The only viable options for me were going to have to be online. Last summer I came across an article for West Coast Bible College & Seminary. I had seen different online ministry degrees before, but they were all expensive and didn’t seem to fit what I was looking for. However, West Coast was different. They offer a variety of ministry degrees at various levels and their format and approach is just what I was looking for:

  • All of your classes are ministry related and directly connected to your focus. There’s no general courses to fill out the schedule.
  • There are no traditional text books. The books needed for the courses are ministry books like what I already have on my bookshelf in my office. In fact, I already has a few of the books I’ll need for the courses. This means they’re practical, accessible and most importantly, not “text-book” expensive!
  • You move at your own pace. There’s no defined start and end time for the course. If you can crank through it in a week, good! If it takes a couple of months, that’s good too.
  • They count life experience. For me, this was HUGE! I was able to transfer my credits from my original degree and I applied for and received the maximum amount of life credits available. Because of that, I’ll have my BA in worships and arts in just 10 classes, saving me a bunch of money.
  • It’s very affordable! If you were starting out straight from high school and looking to complete your BA, you’d be looking at about $1,200. That’s $1,200 total. For the entire degree. Not $1,200 per year. Yes books are extra, but you’re saving a significant amount of money over a traditional college. Because I was able to transfer my existing credits and apply for life experience credits, my degree will cost a bit less.

I’m almost finished with my first course and I can’t wait to get into some of the other courses. I’m on track to finish sometime this year depending on how quickly I can move through the courses. My plan is to complete my BA and then to continue to get my Masters in Worship and Arts. It’s going to be a fun journey, but it will be worth it to grow and equip myself for ministry.

So what’s your next step? What area of your life do you need to give some attention to and take some time to grow?

About Matthew Starner

Matthew Starner is pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they help people take their next step on their journey with Jesus.

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