This is a risky post for me – if read by the wrong person or people I could get in a lot of trouble – mostly because of the circles in which I travel – but do know this reflects my own opinion.
If you are sensing a call to the ministry or to missions – whatever you do – do not go to Bible School.
If God says to you directly “I want you to Go to Bible School.” Well, then you need to go. But as a general rule, in most cases, Bible School can be hazardous to your ministry effectiveness. Why? Because there is often more to ministry than just Bible related issues.
Instead, if you want to be a pastor, I might suggest getting some general business degree – while churches are not businesses, they are often run like them in many respects – I mean someone needs to keep the books, manage the finances, know how to work in the best interest of the church from a business perspective and given that the vast significant majority of churches in America 50 to 100 folks – unless they happen to have someone in the congregation with a servants heart to help out with this kind of stuff – many of this kind of thing falls to the pastor.
If you want to be a missionary – get a practical degree such as teaching, business, linguistics, or even something far out like a chemistry, environmental science degree, even a medical degree or one in urban planning and community deelopment . This way you’ll actually be able to be of some benefit to wherever you go other than just starting a Bible School or doing evangelism. These are needed of course but so are medical skills, science skills, teaching and so on.
UPDATE: As an example, a missionary family I recently met, who live in an undisclosed location, the father is a specialist in agricultural development and are utlizing that skill where they are as relief workers. In their first term, they served the people by hepling them build a chicken farm and to fish farms. In effect, in meeting their physical needs it opened up the door for them to meet the people’s spiritual needs.
This is modern missions.
Pick either a Christian University and get a liberal arts degree that is practical and has a variety of transferrable skills – or go to a State College or University and get plugged into a Christian group on campus for spiritual support while studying in a secular anti-religious environment – this is pretty good prep for being out there in the world.
What about getting a theological education? Save that for seminary 0r if you choose a Christian University – have ministry or Bible be your minor – but even then, I would suggest saving it for seminary. Additionally, stay away from things like missions majors, youth ministry degrees, and Bible majors. Those will be of less help in ministry prep in the long run than if you get a good liberal arts degree and save the ministry prep for seminary.
That’s my $.02.