I am curious if there are any denominations that do not believe in college education for church leaders such as pastors, missionaries, etc. There are many churches that do. I am asking because I do not agree with college education. I strongly believe in God-given talents and that the Holy Ghost teaches. I know I am called, but I do not like college education. It's too arm-chair education. I prefer action. In another words, hands-on. That way I can apply to be the pastor of a church.

Educating yourself to be wise is foolish, as said in the scripture (Romans 1:22-23), but lately, many denominations require college education.

  • "that does not believe in college education for church leaders such as pastors, missionaries, etc" Do you mean that doesn't believe it is necessary, or that does not believe that should have it at all? Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 17:02
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    @bigheart, I edited out that last line, not because I don't like 'God Bless' but because in general, we prefer things like "hope this helps, thanks in advance, etc.." to be left out of questions. Also, please don't ask for "opinions". Just the facts, BigHeart :)
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 17:38
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    "I am asking because I do not agree with college education. " Do you mean as a requirement for pastors, or that no one should seek college education? Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 4:22
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    There's a huge number - which makes this a list question.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 12:45
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 15:21

5 Answers 5


Amish and some Mennonites practice this. I met a Beachy Amish pastor several years ago who was selected by "lot" without needing to go to college. This practice, I believe, is based on Acts 1:26 where Matthias was selected as an Apostle by lot. This guy was not dumb or stupid by any means - he knew his Bible well, but perhaps not as much Shakespeare.

Jehovah's Witnesses ordain non-college graduates as Elders. See this answer to this question: How trained are the elders in the Jehovah's Witness denomination?

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    The LDS Church also doesn't require college education for leaders (although all members are encouraged to go to college is possible, as well as obtain other forms of education). Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 4:22
  • @PyRulez you should add that as an answer. Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 12:19

Great Commission Churches (GCC)

While I'd say* that most pastors for GC churches have some sort of degree, it is not at all a requirement. A relative of mine is a pastor for one of their churches and he was a house painter before. Another pastor I know very well was a former mechanic.

GC also puts out an Elder Qualification test that anyone can take. It's a good test! It does not mention a college degree as a qualification for being an elder.

*Source: I've been deeply involved with Great Commission Churches for 12 years.


Technically, many Evangelical Presbyterian bodies like the PCA allow for it in special circumstances. The reasoning is that there is a biblical basis for insisting that ministers be qualified, subject to examination, and educated, but there are special circumstances where a person might not be eligible for a college-level degree and in which case Ministry experience or some type of equivalent could overrule an academic requirement. It is likely that this is envisioning some special cases like ministers who might have been ordained before entering the PCA or the mission field. I don't know the number of times this provision has been exercised if ever but I think it is very small and it would be inconceivable that it would happen in ordinary circumstances.


Although in practice deacons and preists undergo years of hard study and training before ordination in the Catholic Church.

It is a strict requirement in the sense that it will/may prevent the ordination but not a strict requirement in the sense that the lack of education would nullify the ordination.

Eg. If it is found that the priest cheated on all his exams in seminary he would still be a priest.

Catholic pastor requirements are strict in practice but relaxed in theory.


In my experience I have found that there are many denominations that do not require a college education in order to be a Pastor, indeed, many just skip Pastor and go right to Bishop (sounds more impressive). Indeed, all you need to do is find someone to fallow your teaching. Many denominations profess and believe that the Holy Spirit leads the individual rather than the Church to Truth. I believe that if you want to be a Pastor of a church you can simply go out and start one, Your success or failure would depend I suppose on your oral presence or your overall constitution and ability to come across as holy or pious. Some Church shoppers will search and find you and buy what you are selling.

Discipleship however, is something entirely separate from College education, but not in opposition to it. Disciples of Christ who wish to become Sheppards, should fallow the teachings passed on from those who have come before. That is the biblical understanding of discipleship. The discipleship of Christ is different only in the complete commitment of the disciple to the ministry of Christ. To give everything to Christ, renouncing worldly things, renouncing the lust of the Eyes, the Lust of the Flesh and the Pride of life. In the Church started by the apostles, these three principles have grown to Priestly Celibacy, in opposition to the lust of the flesh, the renunciation of luxury and alternately to a life of charity, an opposition to lust of the eyes, and a life of Prayer, which is humility. These three things are in contrast to the fall of Adam. Unfortunately, that church requires more of it's Paster's than just love of Christ, and obedience to these ideals, but an education to to better serve the laity.

It is clear that outside the Catholic Church, just about anything is possible, only your imagination and ability to convince others is required for success. Faith, shaped to the ego, rather than Faith, shaped to humility.

There are more denominations than can be counted that do not require education of the Pastors.

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