Sharing the gospel does not require a degree or education. On the other hand, education can help us fully understand God’s word and share the Gospel in different cultural contexts.
What education is needed to become a missionary? No formal education is required to become a missionary. Education is recommended before going overseas as a missionary so they can properly share the Gospel with a different culture. A college degree in business or education would help the missionary bring a skill overseas.
Education can be key to effectively communicating the gospel, but it is important to know exactly what you want to pursue.
Is Education Needed For Missionaries?
While education is not required for missionaries, it is encouraged. Education can help missionaries to become ready to share the Gospel cross culturally.
Here is what the Bible says about sharing the Gospel:
For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’Romans 10:13-15
Paul encourages his readers in his letter to the Romans that people cannot be saved without hearing and they cannot hear without someone preaching to them.
This passage does directly tell us to go major in theology or take a course on the Old and New Testament but we know people will not hear the gospel if someone does not preach to them.
We need to know God’s word and the gospel message thoroughly before we can help others understand the good news.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19,20
The Great Commission is one of the clearest passages in the Bible that tells us that we must go, and go even to the ends of the earth. Jesus gives us additional instruction in this passage he also tells the disciples that we should baptize them and then teach them what Jesus had taught.
God uses those who believe in him to help spread the good news of the gospel, and a degree is not required to share the gospel, but as we see in Acts, Paul’s knowledge and understanding of different cultures than his own helped him effectively share the gospel.
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’Acts 17:27-28
Paul took his knowledge of what Athens believed to effectively convey to them who God is and what he has done and is doing in the world. After preaching this message there were some who believed and joined Paul.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15
Going cross-culturally to share the gospel is very important, but while we do this we want to share the gospel correctly. As it says in the above verse we want to handle God’s word rightly.
Many mission agencies require that you have taken Bible classes prior to going on the missions field for this reason. It is important that we share the gospel, but imperative that we do it correctly.
Education can help missionaries to become ready to share the Gospel cross culturally.
Mission Agency Requirements for Missionaries
When looking into going overseas, or working cross-culturally to share the gospel it is important to go with an organization that will help you reach the culture effectively and support you while you are there.
Each mission agency is different but they are dedicated to spreading the gospel and for your welfare. Because of this many missionary agencies require those going overseas to meet certain requirements.
Some of the most common and prevalent education requirements are Bible credits, and education in the role you will be performing overseas.
For example, if you want to teach overseas mission agencies will look for those with a teaching degree, in addition to Bible credits or courses taken on the Bible.
International Mission Board requires at least a Bachelors Degree to be supported fully. They still let those without a degree serve but only in volunteer positions and short-term trips.
Pioneers require full-time mission workers to take six Bible courses including Old Testament Survey, New Testament survey, hermeneutics/ Bible interpretations, Basic Theology, as well as two electives, at least one of the theological nature.
Mission Aviation Fellowship requires that all who want to join MAF should have education-wise twelve-hours of college-level Bible courses. They require that these courses cover the New Testament, and the Old Testament.
Baptist International Missions, Inc. or BIMI require those wanting to do missions with them have graduated from High School and either Bible school, college, or seminary. In addition, some more specific positions require higher or specialized education.
There are some mission agencies that require education for some positions and not others, with a degree you become more flexible to take on more roles, but there are options to serve without a degree or previous training.
There are also many mission agencies such as Ethnos 360 and Global Frontier Missions that provide training for those who want to go overseas.
Depending on what mission agency you go through they could require you to take their own course or any above combination of education.
Why Education Is Important For Missionaries
While many mission agencies require some education in the Bible before leaving, there are many other potential places to grow your knowledge before going to be most effective while teaching others.
While working overseas or simply in a different culture, studying the differences in culture and how to bridge those gaps can be very useful.
Going to countries that do not allow missions or where Christianity is illegal are creative access countries. This means you enter the country not by declaring your intention but with other skills to use in the country. In this situation, it is extremely useful to be able to use another degree to enter and use within the country.
Depending on what role you want to accomplish overseas, look into education in that area. The more proficient you are in that area, the more you can help people overseas.
Teaching English to speakers of another language or TESOL is a desired trade in many places. If you have any interest in teaching TESOL there are many colleges that offer majors in TESOL and teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).
There is always room to improve your knowledge of the Bible. And when studying the Bible it is not only for education’s sake but for a deeper understanding of God and his word, which will affect your spiritual walk with Christ and make you more equipped to teach others.
If you know know what country you will be going to, learning the language or starting your education on the language will help you be more prepared for work in that country or with a certain people group.
Even if you are not sure where you will end up serving, taking a class on linguistics will help you better understand the language in general. A better understanding of language overall can help you learn a new language in the future.
While extra education can be beneficial on the missions field it is also important to remember that procuring debt before going on the missions field is not helpful.
It will be more difficult to work overseas while still trying to pay off debt. For this reason, it is important to be strategic about what you get and where you get your education.
Where To Receive Education To Become A Missionary
Where you get your education before going on the mission field can be a very important and influential step in your mission’s journey. Where you get your education helps determine how prepared you will be for the mission field and how much debt you will have to pay off.
When looking into colleges to help prepare you, assess the past success of this college or university in sending out missionaries, as well as how dedicated they are to seeing Christ being known throughout the world.
Also, look into the cost, paying attention to different programs or scholarships that will help lower the cost. Make sure that the education you receive does in fact line up with what your missions agency wants.
Missionary Training Schools/Colleges
Below is information from the best missionary training schools and colleges.
Bethany Global University is a four-year accredited school that specializes in training missionaries. They offer three majors: Intercultural Ministry Studies, Transformational Entrepreneurship in Missions, and Education in Missions.
During their four years, students go overseas for sixteen months.
BGU is also a work college, this means that while you are taking classes you are also working, and what you earn goes to pay for your tuition leaving you with much less debt at the end of your four years.
Radius International helps its students learn skills in specific areas that will be useful and needed for missions overseas. There are some mission agencies that accept their courses to meet their requirements including Pioneers.
Ethnos 360 Bible Institute is a two-year Bible program. They focus on the Bible, missions, and discipleship.
Ethnos 360 Institute also tries to keep their tuition affordable to help those going on to do missions to keep their student debt down.
There are many Christian colleges that will have the courses that mission agencies will accept. There are also some colleges that offer courses that are aimed at helping those taking the class to be successful overseas in a different culture.
Below is a list of colleges that have intercultural studies and/or other majors that are cross-culturally focus.
- Moody Bible College
- Southeastern University
- Johnson University
- Columbia International University
- Biola University
- Spurgeon College
- University of the Nations
The less debt procured in college will help you get ahead as you raise support and plan to go overseas. Although debt is something that you cannot avoid there are some programs and colleges that will help you lower your debt.
Why Education Matters
Education is not always necessary to go overseas to do missions or to go with a missions agency, but there is a reason that many missionaries and mission agencies suggest earning a degree or learning more in-depth about the Bible before you go.
When going overseas or cross-culturally to do missions we go with the intentions of spreading the good news and making disciples, and while you may not need a degree to share the gospel, with the added barrier of culture and language, the process can be much harder and longer.
The best way to make a true and lasting impact is to understand their culture and your own in addition to having a firm grasp on the gospel and God’s word to properly translate the message cross-culturally and through a language barrier.
Those you teach cannot learn more than you know, you can only teach others to the capacity you know.
The education that you take before going overseas is not only for you, that education will be what you teach others.
There are many missionaries who although have the intention of doing long-term, or even short-term missions come home early from the missions field.
There can be many reasons for this but many times this is because those going overseas were not properly prepared, with education in fields such as intercultural studies and linguistics you can be better prepared to tackle the obstacles on the missions field.
Although there is a need now for missionaries, and it is easy to try and skip any extra education before heading out the door to preach to those overseas.
We can make more of a lasting impact and help Churches grow and thrive by first educating ourselves than going out and preaching the good news and caring for those in need.
As we are encouraged in the Bible, and by mission agencies, it is important to have some education before going overseas, and specifically, in areas, you plan to serve in and in scripture.
While it is important to keep student debt down it is also important to be properly prepared to share the good news of the gospel in new settings and cross-culturally.
It is also important to keep in mind while choosing where to receive your education places that will offer the classes you need and have good experience built-in and schools that have lower costs.
Make sure to check missions agencies and their requirements for education to find what colleges and programs will work best for you.