James Kautz - Online Master of Business Administration
When James Kautz was ready to return to college for a graduate degree, he found that Southeastern University was ready for him, too.
Southeastern's Online Master of Business Administration provided Kautz the perfect opportunity for the busy pastor of Evangel Assembly of God to further his education from home while continuing to lead his church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The demands of a busy ministry meant a traditional college setting was out of the question. The online MBA allowed Kautz to adopt a schedule that fit his needs. And the subject matter was "made for the modern, twenty-first century pastor," he says.
For Kautz, pastoring a church is similar to running a business, and he knew a business-based education from a Christian perspective would come in handy.
"I thought this would ultimately help in the ministry," he says, "I had been waiting for something that would work, and this was it."
Churches today are expected to be more accountable, and many elements of the church are the same as in the secular business world, Kautz says. Just as it is in the business world, pastors have to hire and fire employees and handle finances.
It's no secret that there are other online MBA programs out there, but Kautz says he sought the real-world education with a strong spiritual basis that Southeastern offers its students.
Kautz found the courses in organizational behavior and marketing benefited him greatly, he says.
About his organizational behavior course, which delves into communication, decision-making and productivity concepts, he says: "You could have just changed a few names here and there and it would have been 'How to Run a Church.'"
Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Gordon Storholm's marketing management course proved to be another valuable learning tool. It taught Kautz that the principle of selling or marketing to the public, which convinces people to purchase certain products and services, works in the church too. From his marketing course, Kautz identified the need for a more defined plan of outreach for his church. The course also gave him the tools necessary to create that plan.
"Even though we sometimes balk at it, we're in the sales business," Kautz says of the church, adding that in doing "the work of the Lord, we believe in the Great Commission, but often we have no roadmap of how to get there."
Studying how business and ethical elements play into developing a marketing strategy taught Kautz the importance of making a tangible plan and not just saying, "We're going to trust the Lord," when it comes to reaching out to people, he says.
Southeastern's MBA courses have been great learning tools not only because of their content, but also because of the instructors, Kautz says. Having instructors such as Dr. Storholm, who had a career with IBM and Xerox before joining the Southeastern faculty, adds value to the educational experience.
"(Dr. Storholm) is highly qualified from an academic standpoint, but he also worked in the secular business world," Kautz says. "That says to the young students that a Christian perspective on business will work, but it also speaks to me that they have shown how it works in the real world. They've shown me that a Christian perspective works under all circumstances."
Enrolling in Southeastern online MBA has helped Kautz develop his faith, he says.
"I'm maybe stronger in faith in the sense of being willing to step out," Kautz says. "Participating in the online MBA program has given me the courage to attempt more and to expect more."