On Sunday mornings, you will find Michael C. McDaniel ’15 in the pulpit of Currytown Baptist Church in Lexington, North Carolina, where he relies heavily on his training in theology and ministry. But the rest of the week, the senior pastor also draws on lessons learned while earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Bryan School of Business and Economics.
In many significant ways, a church is like any other organization or business, with daily practical challenges related to management, innovation, strategic planning, human resources—and problem solving. With his Bryan School degree, Michael is well-equipped to run the all-important business side of his church more efficiently and effectively than ever before.
When Michael started his ministry at Currytown 13 years ago, the tiny church had only about a dozen members, mostly seniors. His eldest son, Luke, now
age 14, was the only child in the congregation. Under Michael’s leadership, the church has grown to nearly 400 members and is a complex, ever-changing enterprise.
“There’s definitely a business side to ministry—a business side that many people don’t see,” Michael says. “I’ve got three full-time staff and two part-time
staff. A lot of the skills I learned throughout the degree process at UNCG I can implement at the church. My coursework in leadership and business administration, in particular, gave me new tools in how I manage employees and interact to co-workers.” The Bryan School also introduced him to innovative collaborative technologies, opening up new worlds in terms of how people can interact and work together.
Michael first set out to earn his bachelor’s degree right after high school, when he attended college on a baseball scholarship; however, marriage, work demands and life in general intervened and he never graduated. Eventually, Michael went back to school, attending the Baptist College of America in Kokomo, Indiana, for his work in the ministry—but he still lacked that business degree.
In his early 40s, he decided it was time to “close the open loop.” He enrolled at UNCG, where the online degree program allowed him to continue in his ministry while completing his coursework. “I felt like it was something in my life that was undone,” Michael says. “And I felt it was a bit hypocritical for me to push my kids to go to college when I hadn’t finished. I decided it was time.”
Attending UNCG while continuing to work full time at the church gave him the added benefit of being able to apply lessons learned in his coursework immediately. When challenges crop up in his professional life, his problem-solving ability, a skill he honed at the Bryan School, has served him well.
“I have found that people who are busy accomplish more,” Michael says. “I’m a very organized person, but going back to school helped me set goals and manage my time. It’s really fulfilling to know that at 44 years old, I earned this degree. It’s given me a great sense of accomplishment.”