Having been home schooled for the entirety of my education, I was anxious to know how formal education at a higher level was going to challenge me.
Moorlands Bible College has recently received the TEF Silver rating for excellence in teaching and is the place I was privileged enough to study at for 3 years. Located just outside Christchurch on the south coast, Moorlands is the number 1 Theology and training college in the UK. They offer courses ranging from short courses to Master’s Degrees in a huge range of Biblically-based topics. I graduated in 2016 with a BA degree in Applied Theology (Youth and Community Work)—with a JNC Certificate (a national framework for youth and community workers).
The decision to go to Moorlands was definitely influenced by God’s hand at work. When I’d finished my ACE education I was clueless as to what God had for the next step in my life. After working as a waitress for a year and spending a lot of time involved in the various ministries at church, I knew that to pursue God’s heart in this would take more than just a few offhand prayers. Having had a brother who had also attended Bible College, I had always been envious of the dedicated time it gave to studying God’s word and digging really deeply into Biblical theological truths. My reasoning was that if I pursued Jesus by committing myself to study, He might finally tell me what I was here for! However, I can see now that I learnt far more from the people than from the academics. These lessons were the foundation for the next stage in my life. I learnt from every situation and response I saw. It also gave huge insight to the human way of responses to situations. I’d say Bible College is an environment that can make or break your faith (in people as well as in God), and I have seen many examples of both. It challenged me on so many spiritual levels that I wasn’t even aware existed, but built up from those foundations knowledge and wisdom that have since carried me many times in the role I currently fill as Youth Pastor in a church.
Not only do Moorlands equip and train for ministry, they also have an incredible emphasis on developing the students’ understanding of themselves, and above all, their relationship with God. Pastoral care is of the upmost. The centrality of Jesus in every aspect of college life was comforting, and you cannot escape the focus of why Moorlands exists. There is such a compassion and a care shown by all the staff, the tutors, lecturers, and even the kitchen staff! You cannot help but feel surrounded and encouraged to develop in a challenging but rewarding environment. There is also learning in every area of life—the trips available to Israel for a guided Biblical tour by one of the greatest minds in New Testament study and the compulsory tour around the British museum in London taught me things that I know will be useful and will remember for a long time to come.
In all, my Bible College experience was what God had planned for me; but I wouldn’t feel comfortable encouraging it as a ‘fall-back’ plan if His guiding is not clear. It is a matter of calling, not convenience or compulsion.