Meet Matthew, a high school junior who is looking forward to breaking free from the shackles of COVID-19 to enjoy “a normal summer” of activities with extended family and friends.
Until recently returning to in-person school three days a week, Matthew had been tethered to the laptop in his one-window bedroom for weekday classes since spring 2020. Like many of his informed peers, Matthew is also taking advantage of discounted dual credit courses through BJU’s School for Continuing, Online and Professional Education (SCOPE) to get a jumpstart on his college education.
Organized and studious, Matthew has easily incorporated the flexible dual credit program into his weekdays and occasional weekends and plans to continue in the fall to knock out required courses and save money.
Two Paths, One Direction
Examining his not-too-distant future, Matthew is torn. He’s interested in the criminal justice program at BJU — maybe go on to law school or even work for the FBI. He is also faithfully involved in his youth group — usually among the first to arrive to quench the thirst for social interaction and often the only teen hanging around to help his youth pastor stack chairs — and admires his uncle’s ministry as a deacon in his church.
Matthew occasionally accompanies his uncle to a local men’s shelter to serve Saturday breakfast, listen to conversations about earthly and eternal matters and stack chairs while cleaning up. The volunteer time is inspirational and fulfilling and leads Matthew to think the Lord might be directing him to enroll in a ministry program at BJU.
Dr. Kevin Oberlin, dean of the School of Religion, has news of interest for Matthew and other young men and women who are interested in both the ministry and a secular career path.
BJU offers a double major track — Ministry and Leadership through the School of Religion paired with another academic program — that equips students with skills that will be invaluable in their career and ministry no matter their job or where they live.
“The Ministry and Leadership program provides a lot of flexibility,” Oberlin said. “A lot of students come to BJU and don’t know exactly what they want to do. Maybe they know they want to serve the Lord. They also want to use gifts and skills they have in a particular vocation but they want to be committed to the local church. The Ministry and Leadership bachelor of science program prepares them to do all that.”
Value for the Investment
Business Administration, Information Technology, Music, Spanish, Mathematics, Child Development and even more focused majors such as Engineering and Nursing are among the dozens of BJU programs that complement Ministry and Leadership.
All courses are taught through the lens of a biblical worldview, and requirements for graduation can comfortably be met within four years. Students like Matthew, who have taken undergraduate courses online while in high school, could expand knowledge and skills through additional electives or even graduate a semester early.
“The program was designed so that someone could come in and get all the same core Bible courses, expositional courses, the exegetical rigors you would get in a biblical studies program and be trained to go the seminary route if they want to. But because they have a double major in, say, business, they might go on to get an MBA,” Oberlin said.
“This program was designed to double major; not that you can double major. They are going to get a significant amount of value. It allows them to leverage as much opportunity as they can coming to BJU, which has a Christian liberal arts, biblical world perspective.”
Enhancing your Resume
Graduates of the program bring an extra dimension to the workforce.
“We had one parent who is an engineer when they heard what we’re doing — and we have a handful of engineers who are doing this program — said this is a game-changer,” Oberlin said. “If you have Ministry and Leadership on your resume as well as engineering, it distinguishes you as a better hire. One of the issues in the engineering field is there are capable, thoughtful and analytical people but they have more difficulty in the relational side. This brings something to the table that rings management and leadership development, emerging leader and something that’s going to move that company forward.”
The robust program also prepares individuals to be involved in ministry full time, part time or as a mentor, business manager, deacon, mission team leader, camp counselor or homeschool leader in their church and community.
“Beyond having credibility on your resume, the skills that you bring in with a double major are profound,” Oberlin said. “With Ministry and Leadership, you’re getting the core of the Bible major. We took the engine of the biblical studies program — a pre-seminary program — and rebuilt the engine with a few leadership components included. You’re getting the core of what a pastor would get in a pre-seminary degree. You’re learning homiletics, you’re learning how to interpret the Scriptures, how to deal with different cultural issues as they pertain to the ministry.
“There are so many angles that it’s a brilliant move for someone as they move toward what the church looks like today and tomorrow.”