Non-denominational churches do not have a denominational body that governs their decisions; they are “independent” churches. Therefore, whether their pastors need accredited seminary degrees is entirely up to each individual church. Read on to see the theological, pragmatic, and positional considerations independent churches weigh when answering this question.
Seminary Degrees are Preferred
Theologically, very few churches – especially non-denominational churches –require a seminary degree for ordination. After all, Jesus never attended a modern-day seminary. Seminary is simply the most common, and often most efficient, means that churches have to train pastors. Therefore, most churches will say applicants to an open pastoral position will need an accredited seminary degree, but they would not turn down a stellar applicant who received his or her training in an unorthodox fashion.
The Location of the Non-Denominational Church
Pragmatically, most churches in and near cities have the luxury of only considering applicants who have a seminary degree. Non-denominational churches in rural settings, however, may not be able to attract a seminary-trained minister, even if they would prefer someone with a master of divinity degree. Small, rural churches may be forced to consider applicants whose training is not as extensive as a seminary curriculum.
The Pastoral Position in Question
Finally, the specific degree required usually depends on the position in question. Non-denominational churches may require their senior pastor to have a seminary degree yet hire a youth pastor in their church who only has a bachelor’s degree from Bible college or is currently attending seminary.
If you would like to pastor a non-denominational church, these non-denominational seminaries may be the ideal place to earn your degree.
(This is the first post in a new series we are doing at SaBC, Q&A. In each post, we will provide a brief answer to a specific question we are asked. To submit a question, leave a comment below or contact us.)