Graduate education empowers pastors

By Jeffery Fulks

Knowledge gained boosts confidence, creativity and ability to think strategically.

Over the last three years, Brad Wicks, pastor of Marysville Christian Fellowship, Marysville, KS, and a graduate of Evangel University in Springfield, MO, has been a man on the move.  His first position as an adult ministries leader at a large church in Missouri led to his next position as executive pastor at a newly developed church in a diverse Pennsylvania community. Currently, he serves as lead pastor in a rural Kansas church.

Wicks says a critical component for a successful transition was the confidence he developed as a result of earning a Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL) degree from Evangel.

“Graduate education goes beyond acquiring knowledge in a classroom or textbook,” says Wicks. He believes that pursuing an advanced degree can help pastors become empowered, both personally and professionally, by providing a framework for envisioning greater opportunities.

Tom Van Kempen, lead pastor of the Champion Center Church in Las Vegas, NV, also credits his online MOL degree from Evangel with helping him become more intentional in accomplishing organizational goals.

“My education provided fresh perspectives and insights regarding my current church that allowed me to channel my energy and develop a vision for what can be accomplished,” says Van Kempen. In fact, he used the skills learned in the program to develop a new marketing plan for the church school that resulted in a 25 percent increase in enrollment. Van Kempen also believes that his graduate education increased his credibility in the professional community.

Wicks, who chose the online-hybrid MOL format, says the knowledge  he gained contributed greatly to his ability to see what worked and what didn’t work within the overall church system.  As executive pastor, he says the program allowed him to develop strategic goals that addressed critical needs of both members and the larger community.

Both pastors agree that graduate education often allows students to view themselves in a different light.
Van Kempen says that now that he has finished his degree, he has much more time available to “work on fulfilling dreams that I never would have envisioned in the past.”

Wicks says that going through the program “allowed me to have greater confidence in my giftings and ability to lead others, challenged me to think more deeply about leadership, and helped me understand the options that were available in choosing how to respond to ministry issues.”

Looking back, Wicks believes God used his education to help him more clearly identify and enhance his talents and abilities. Says Wicks, “The MOL program taught me how to integrate faith and leadership and how to build relationships both within and outside the church. The knowledge I gained empowered me to become more intentional in creating an effective ministry.”

Dr. Jeffery Fulks is director of Graduate & Professional Studies, Evangel University, Springfield, MO. www.evangel.edu/mol

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