Is a Christian Studies Degree Right for You?
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If you are interested in religion and have good communication skills, you may want to consider pursuing a degree in Christian studies. During the course of this degree, you will gain a better understanding of the impact of Christianity on various civilizations. You will study missions, theology and Scripture, all of which will come into play after you graduate and establish a career in a faith-based institution such as a church or private school. You can earn a Christian studies degree through traditional means or online programs, depending on your schedule and preferred method of learning.
Advice for Earning Your Christian Studies Degree Online
Pursuing an online Christian studies degree can be advantageous in many ways. You can learn at your own pace and study at home. Plus, you can supplement your degree with internships in your local community. Churches are usually responsible for both faith-based and government initiatives, which can give you the opportunity to put some of the theories you learn into practice. Online bachelor's programs typically take three or four years to complete. However, you can find accelerated programs that take less time. As with any higher education institution, it is important to make sure your school is accredited before enrolling. This ensures that it will be held to a strict standard of education.
The main aim of a Christian studies program is to give you the analytical skills and knowledge to better understand theological texts. To accomplish this, you will study the political, religious and historical implications of Christian thought on various groups of people and their lives. You will also learn research and writing skills throughout your required courses. Core classes for Christian studies majors include in-service guidance, principles of theological research and writing, biblical studies, history of theology and some sort of senior seminary.
Potential elective options include politics and ethics. Courses outside the major can be helpful for your educational experience, as well. For example, Christianity has had an important influence on art, music and literature. Studying this connection can help further your knowledge of the impact of Christianity.
Common Career Paths
Although you are not limited to a position within the clergy, it is common for graduates to establish careers in faith-based institutions. Common paths include (but are not limited to):
A position as a church administrator requires general management and excellent communication skills. You will be dealing with church attendees and workers as well as potential donors. Church administrators make sure tasks and events run smoothly from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy. This involves overseeing people from the kitchens of the church to the actual clergy. They are in charge of church finances, payroll and volunteer activities. Furthermore, they are responsible for coming up with techniques to increase participation in church activities. If you are interested in this position, some marketing or advertising courses can prove useful. Also, human resources courses and general knowledge about organizational structure and behavior can teach you how to efficiently manage payroll activities.
If you are interested in teaching others about Christianity, both domestically and abroad, a job as a church missionary may be an exciting and fulfilling employment opportunity for you. Most missionaries are assigned to work in developing nations. While assigned abroad, missionaries work diligently to gain converts to Christianity. They do this by educating local groups about Scriptures and religious theology. Missionaries take on other roles as well, such as working to improve local education and infrastructure in developing nations. Some missionaries hold classes about preventing diseases in the host country. They may also work with government officials to help ration food and other resources to the poor. Important skills for this job include determination, flexibility and a willingness to live in difficult conditions. Although the job can be morally fulfilling and stimulating, it can be very difficult to live in such impoverished conditions. Diseases and various sicknesses can spread rampantly in some of these countries, so it is important to be ready for some hardship. Compensation for missionary jobs usually depends on the church or Christian organization for which you work. Usually, churches will pay for all living expenses abroad. They also help missionaries pay necessary taxes and training expenses.
Members of the clergy are required to have excellent communication and presentation skills, as they are often called upon to play the role of mediator for church members. Clergy leaders and members represent the church and are in charge of running events, fundraisers and church services. It is important for clergy members to feel comfortable working under pressure. To lead services, clergy members need to have a thorough understanding of theology, Scripture and other religious teachings. It is common for them to attend seminars to enhance their preaching techniques. Churchgoers usually financially support pastors and their families. New pastors make $32,500 to $50,868 a year as of May 2012, according to PayScale.com.