Student Earns Master of Divinity with Accelerated Track
At Commencement 2022 in May, BJU Seminary conferred a master of divinity on the first student to earn the degree through the new accelerated T3MDiv track offered in conjunction with BJU’s School of Religion.
This track — which allows male students pursuing pastoral ministry to complete a bachelor of arts in biblical studies and a master of divinity in six years — follows the mandate of 2 Timothy 2:2 by training faithful men to proclaim the Gospel and stand for truth.
With commitment to efficiency and focus, Daniel Steeves completed his two degrees even after entering full-time ministry during his final year.
An Early Start
One never knows the impact school chapel messages can have on a seventh grader who has just settled his salvation doubts. For Steeves, they conveyed God’s call to ministry.
“There were little snippets from almost every single challenge or message that caught my attention, and they were all linked to ministry,” Steeves said. After realizing God was burdening his heart during his church’s mission conference that year, he surrendered to God’s calling.
Royce Short, former dean of BJU’s School of Religion who attended Steeves’ church, encouraged him to take Greek as soon as possible. Starting his junior year of high school at Bob Jones Academy, Steeves took four semesters of Greek through BJU dual enrollment, along with other core courses.
The opportunity to start his bachelor of arts in biblical studies when he did made Steeves thankful for his early calling: “It gave me so much extra time to … get ahead and start preparing my heart and my head for ministry.”
Introducing the T3MDiv Track
During his first year at BJU as a sophomore, Steeves was told about the development of an accelerated track that would allow him to complete his master of divinity in two years instead of three. He began taking master of divinity classes that would substitute for undergraduate classes when the accelerated track became official the following year.
Taking graduate courses pushed him, but not without reward. “My understanding of different topics and themes and doctrines in Scripture expanded so much more,” Steeves said. “Being pushed to do the work myself and understand the topics and then be able to go and ask questions and broaden my understanding in the actual class period itself was very helpful.”
Once Steeves graduated in 2020 with his bachelor of arts in biblical studies, he took 10-12 credits of graduate courses each semester via in-person, livestream, online and module formats.
Said Steeves: “I personally enjoy the fully online format because it’s so condensed and you feel more focused on the one subject, but there are some things that you can’t teach effectively that way, like Hebrew.”
He also benefited from the flexibility of a module class where he met in person for five days straight. “You have so much more time to ask all the questions you want and get good answers from profs.”
Full-Time MDiv, Plus Full-Time Ministry
After praying about the possibility of a part- or full-time ministry position as he completed his degree, Steeves put his information in a church staffing service and waited. Two weeks later, multiple churches contacted him. By May 2021, he narrowed his options to two good fits: work with his grandparents’ church in New Brunswick where he was interning that summer in camp ministry (and had twice before) or become the assistant pastor of Litchfield First Baptist Church in Michigan.
He again prayed for clear direction. After God closed the door in New Brunswick, he took the position in Michigan and moved there that August.
God orchestrated everything so that the church could give him flexibility to complete his master of divinity. In fact, the degree integrated seamlessly with his position. Not only did projects parallel his responsibilities with the youth and music ministries, he could share what he was studying, such as material from Theology and Practice of Prayer with Dr. Layton Talbert.
“I was so excited not to split my time between work and ministry and school. When work could become ministry, that meant I had so much more time for it,” he said. “It’s been a huge benefit to me, and I think to the church as well, because my understanding of so many subjects is growing faster than I ever would have imagined.”
In the future, Steeves hopes to earn a doctor of ministry and pursue church planting or church revitalization in New England or Eastern Canada.