Church-related Vocational Ministry FAQ
What is church-related vocational ministry?
While all Christians are called by God to love others and serve as members of their local church, not all Christians are called to serve as vocational ministers. This scholarship is intended for those who plan to earn their living as a Christian minister in roles such as a ministry staff member for a church, a full-time ministry leader within a Christian parachurch organization (such as Mission Waco, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or Compassion International), or a full-time Christian missionary or chaplain. Given Baylor's mission to serve the Church, Baylor is committed to making education affordable for those preparing to serve in Christian ministry, a profession that does not often provide the type of compensation available to other Baylor graduates. To qualify for a ministry scholarship, you must be committed to serve as a vocational minister even if you are still discerning the specifics of your calling to ministry.
What is the difference between vocational ministry staff (who qualify for the scholarship) and support staff (who do not qualify for the scholarship)?
Churches and parachurch organizations are often composed of two different types of positions. Ministry staff are those who serve in roles that teach/disciple others in the Christian faith and/or equip others to minister and live as Christians. Support staff help the church or Christian organization accomplish its daily operations, assisting the ministry staff as they fulfill their work. Typical ministry staff include pastors, associate pastors, worship leaders, student ministers, children's ministers, and community/missions ministers. Support staff would include—among others—administrative assistants, media/sound technicians, bookkeepers/accountants, custodians, and groundskeepers.
What about those ministry-related positions that don't seem to fit into traditional categories?
- Counselor? It depends on where you practice along with the purpose of your practice. If you plan to work as a paid ministry staff member at a church or Christian non-profit organization for the purpose of Christian-based ministry to clients, this would qualify as church-related vocational ministry. If, however, you are a Christian who intends to become a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist but not as a minister connected with a church or parachurch organization, this would not qualify as church-related vocational ministry.
- Teacher/Professor? If you intend to earn your living by teaching Christian studies (Bible, theology, church history, etc.) on a full-time basis with the purpose of discipling others and/or preparing future Christian ministers, this would qualify as church-related vocational ministry. On the other hand, if you intend to teach religion courses at a public or private school as part of a general religious studies curriculum without a Christian focus, this would not qualify. If you plan to teach in a Christian school on a subject other than Christian studies, this would not qualify.
- Financial/Administrative-Type Minister? While the job of being a church accountant or bookkeeper falls into a support role for the church rather than a ministerial role, some financial related roles within the church/ parachurch organization do have a ministry focus and thus qualify as a ministerial role. These would be positions (sometimes referred to as "executive" pastors/ministers) that include duties such as the following:
- overseeing human resource operations, and collaborating with the senior pastor/ ministry director to hire, reposition, transition and dismiss staff;
- creating annual budgets;
- overseeing financial, budget, and fundraising operations;
- assisting staff to manage ministry budgets;
- reviewing, creating, and implementing policies and procedures to ensure effective operation of church/ parachurch ministry.
- Part-time Missionary? If you plan to earn your living as a doctor, nurse, business person, engineer, etc., you do not meet the criterion for the vocational ministry scholarship even if you plan to spend a portion of each year doing mission work.
- Active Lay Leader? If you plan to earn your living as a doctor, nurse, business person, engineer, etc., you do not meet the criterion for the vocational ministry scholarship even if you plan to volunteer extensively or work part-time with your local church or parachurch organization.