J. Warner Wallace is passionate about encouraging Christians to keep their day jobs and do their apologetics ministry without financial constraints. He did it, and it worked for him. He has just posted a list of people who have full-time vocations with a part-time apologetics ministry.
The Christian community is experiencing an apologetics “renaissance”, and this resurgence of interest in Christian Case Making is being driven by an unexpected group of “tent-making” Christian Case Makers. Like the Apostle Paul, these avocational apologists draw their income from “conventional” careers (Paul was described as a tent-maker inActs 18:1-3) as they evangelize, preach, make a case or serve. I’m proud to be a member of this growing group of “One Dollar Apologists”. In this post, I’d like to bring your attention to many of the tent-making Case Makers having an impact in our world today. If you are interested in apologetics, you’ve undoubtedly visited many of the websites I’ve collected here. In fact, you may not have realized these resources were being provided by people who are working in vocations similar to your own. As you scan this list of tent-making apologetics websites, take note of the variety of occupations held by the men and women behind the scenes…
I checked out the list to see what all the bloggers I read do in their day jobs, and was pleased to see a number of people in the list who are in science, technology and engineering fields. That’s what I do, and I think it’s the best thing to do. So for the rest of this post I want to give some reasons why people who want to be tent-maker case-makers should consider a STEM degree and a STEM job. (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
Why you should prefer a STEM degree
I always recommend that people prefer STEM degrees when they want to do a “tent-maker” model of apologetics ministry, for five reasons:
1. Doing a STEM degree will make you miserable and give you nightmares for life, and nothing you do after you do a STEM degree can ever be as bad as sitting in a lab all night trying to get something to work that doesn’t want to work. Not even changing diapers. It’s good to get you to accept that life is hard, that your feelings don’t matter to anyone and that you can’t have your way all the time.
2. Doing a STEM degree will give you a lot of money for your ministry, so much that you can even give some away to other ministries. Yesterday, I sent $150 to a Ratio Christi chapter that I like and $300 to another apologetics ministry that I like. And that’s not a problem because a STEM job typically pays better than average.
3. Doing a STEM degree will help you to pay back any student loans you take out, which is a big problem these days because the economy is lousy for young graduates.
4. Doing a STEM degree will shield you from a lot of the pressure you might face from the secularists and leftists who dominate the university classroom, because there just isn’t time to talk about politics much in those classes. The only time I ever got any trouble was my machine learning / search algorithms course in graduate school.
5. Doing a STEM degree will give you an advantage in credibility when discussing apologetics. I think that atheists are more impressed when we have some experience with a demanding job in some practical field. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find arguments like “the argument from fantasy literature” and “the argument from desire” persuasive coming from artsy people who don’t know how to do anything practical for money in the real world.
If you are a woman and want to be a stay-at-home mom, that is excellent, but a STEM degree is still for you! I think it’s useful for everyone. I have a friend who is busy doing her nursing degree part-time and she is a stay-at-home mom, and some of my favorite women apologists (Letitia Wong and Melissa Travis) have science backgrounds.
The best degrees for a tent-maker
If you are just picking a STEM field, then here is a list of the majors that lead to higher paying jobs, although other jobs might even help you to study apologetics, like being a police detective.
Top 10 highest-paid college majors
- Petroleum Engineering: $120,000
- Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: $105,000
- Mathematics and Computer Science: $98,000
- Aerospace Engineering: $87,000
- Chemical Engineering: $86,000
- Electrical Engineering: $85,000
- Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: $82,000
- Mechanical Engineering: $80,000
- Metallurgical Engineering: $80,000
- Mining and Mineral Engineering: $80,000
And here are some majors that you should avoid at all costs:
- Counseling Psychology: $29,000
- Early Childhood Education: $36,000
- Theology and Religious Vocations: $38,000
- Human Services and Community Organization: $38,000
- Social Work: $39,000
- Drama and Theater Arts: $40,000
- Studio Arts: $40,000
- Communication Disorders Sciences and Service: $40,000
- Visual and Performing Arts: $40,000
- Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: $40,000
If you’re not going to do a STEM degree, then a trade degree in the right area can be just as good. The main thing is to be able to do work, preferably in the private sector, that is valuable enough to someone else that they are willing to pay you for it. I think in this economy, it is particularly reckless to be doing a PhD in the humanities, unless you are already retired and fully-funded from your previous work.