It takes a village: Sowing into future leaders

Finances can be one of the top stressors for someone desiring to pursue higher education or deeper theological knowledge. Heck, as an international student, I know first-hand the frustration and stress of working full-time to make ends meet while worrying about when I’ll have the time to finish the 3000-word assignment on Synoptics.

But along the way, God sends small graces that remind us that he is a good shepherd. One of these graces came during my first year at Morling College when I received a scholarship. Because of the generosity of others, I was able to focus more on my studies and throw myself into all that God had for me. And this month, I will be graduating with my master’s in theological studies.

Thus, when I was tasked with writing the story highlighting the matching scholarships program at Morling I was excited. I turned to some help from colleagues who have helped students along the way.

I spoke with Michael O’Neil, the Dean of Campus of Morling Perth Campus and Amanda Tan, Morling’s Student Service liaison.

Michael O’Neil, Dean of Campus Perth-Vose

Q: Michael, why do you think it’s important for pastors/churches to support those seeking deeper theological education?

MO: The task of the church includes the identification and development of emerging, God-called ministers to lead and serve the church into the future. We ought not to leave this task to chance, or make it the sole responsibility of the one called. The church invests in its own life and future when it supports those preparing for lives of ministry and service.

Q: Any advice or challenge you would like to share with pastors/boards on how to go about the matching process?

MO: Your church must understand the crucial task of preparing the next generation for lives of service and ministry – for the future of the church and the life of the world. A church with this kingdom focus will find it easier to provide a budget line item dedicated to this process. And then the church and College could and should cooperate so that their student’s theological and practical formation is intentional, guided, and well-rounded.

Amanda Tan, Future Student Adviser

Q: How have you seen students impacted by financial stress/struggles?

AT: When students are faced with financial stress, they are more likely to withdraw or defer their studies, as they becomes less of a priority. What this can lead to is a delay in potential job prospects and, in some cases, unfulfilled dreams.

Q: What is some advice you can give for someone applying for a scholarship?

AT: Talk to your friends/family or local church about why you want to study and see if they are willing to support you either financially, with prayer or just by keeping you accountable. We often hear “It takes a village to raise a child” but I would say it takes a village to get you through a degree! Loop people in and you’ll begin to see the positive effects of doing life in community.

There is a great need for pastors and churches to invest resources into those desiring to be better equipped. As James Kim, pastor of HomeChurch and a member of the Morling Board shared, “I believe the church needs to create pathways for mature believers to explore and discern their calling.”

Ultimately, on the journey of higher education, one is rarely alone; all it takes is stepping out and asking. So if you are a pastor or church leader reading this, would you consider thinking about how your church can partner with someone looking to take the next step in their theological education?

Learn More About Morling Scholarships