Pastor Matt Chandler on Going Back to College at 45-Years-Old at the Wheaton Graduate School

via Wheaton College/

Matt Chandler and I are both in class right now— finishing up his first week in our graduate program. Last night, I talked to Matt about why he decided to go back to school.

Now, I should note that our program is not a residential program, and Matt is not leaving his church. Our students fly in and out for week-long classes, along with some online classes, and often in academic cohorts that stay together over the course of a degree.

If you are considering going back to school, I also asked Christine Caine similar questions, as she is also a current grad student at Wheaton. You can find our conversation here.

We are glad to have Matt studying in our School of Ministry, Mission, and Leadership.

Ed: You are here with me at your first class in the Wheaton College Graduate School. So, what’s the deal? You’re 45-years-old and you’ve gone all of this way without having a Master’s degree, so why go back to school?

Matt: I’ve committed myself to being a lifelong learner, and so whether that’s books or seminars or schooling, it’s always been my hope that no matter how old I get, I continue to learn and grow in my understanding. I just thought it was time to go back to school. The tools I got in my undergrad have enabled me to get to a certain depth of thinking and interacting. And so, I began to feel, probably a year ago, a bit flat on how I was able to dig and think.

Part of that is that I’m in a specific tribe. The danger of just being stuck in that space is that you don’t get to learn the good that’s out there that maybe your tribe is not familiar with or has never taken the time to consider. So, for me, if I can develop tools that enable me to continue to learn and grow into my 50s and 60s, I want to do that.

I’m in a space at The Village where the leadership pieces are in place. This is kind of a golden era for us. We’re quite busy but, there is also the space for me to say, “OK, how do I want to continue to develop as a man of God?”

Then I heard about this program and thought that it fits well with what I want to do, and the spaces where I want to grow.

I don’t feel like I need to read Jonathan Edwards again. I feel like I can talk ecclesiology at length with anybody. But there are some things about program that were super interesting to me, things that I felt weaker in.

Ed: Wheaton is an evangelical, non-denominational school. Here, you’ll learn from Arminians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals—all scholars in the evangelical stream. Is that a plus or a minus?

Matt: I think it’s a massive plus. To me, that was one of the things that was most exciting about this. For 20 years I have devoured just about everything I could in my stream. And whether I agree with everything or don’t agree with anything, I can talk about I. I can critique it, apply it, take it apart, and put it back together. Now I get to interact with different ideas than my predominant stream, and that’s a plus.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer