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What is “anyplace” learning?

Aaron is a youth minister in a vibrant church who wants to get a seminary degree, but he doesn’t want to uproot his family to move to a residential campus.  He lives and works many hours away from the nearest seminary.

Joanne is the president of a Christian ministry organization in the Philippines.  She, too, wants to further her education, but to attend classes through video conferencing she would have to get up at 3:00 A.M. She finds it is nearly impossible to synchronize her demanding ministry schedule with typical seminary programs.

Oladipo lives in Africa. Rather than attend a local seminary, he desires to be part of a global learning community.  However, he can’t afford to travel and live in another country.

Rockbridge Seminary was created to meet the desires and needs of Christian leaders like those mentioned above. Christian leaders want to develop their ministry skills, but they don’t want to leave their ministry field to get a seminary degree.  The educational term for “anyplace and anytime” learning is asynchronous education. Through the Internet, students can access high-quality ministry training on their own schedule. Today, students are no longer tethered to their computer, but they can study on their mobile phones and tablets.  They can study on a train, in a car, on a plane, on a bus, or on a ship, as these students reported:

 “I completed an entire semester of my D.Min. while deployed to “an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia,” and wrote much of my paper while sitting on a C-17.” John.

“I live in Japan, and during my Rockbridge studies, I traveled around the country several times a year doing training seminars with my mentor. This meant working from hotels at the seminar locations. I also did some of my studies while traveling in the US, signing in while staying with friends and family.”  Kathy.

“My first course I was on an Alaskan cruise with my wife and in-laws. I have signed on in China, Chile, Brazil, Germany and Japan over the years.”  Jim.

“I studied at an Internet cafe in the Philippines while on a mission trip. I also studied while working at a Valero Refinery in Aruba.”  Matt.

“I studied during those hours I had free between my full-time job at the school district and part-time job as a clerk in a convenience store.”  Eric

“I studied between calls while working as an EMT.” Cale.

Anyplace learning offers students flexibility and the opportunity to connect with a global community of ministry leaders.

Because students are across the globe, it is difficult if not impossible for them to gather at any specific hour. But in online seminaries the classroom is always open.  Through forums or chatrooms students read the thoughts of their colleagues and respond. Students and faculty share resources like video clips, sermons, projects, and other media. Students exchange best practices in ministry, share family photographs and their passions, while also discussing what they are learning in the course.

Learning today is all about “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” training. So if you think you couldn’t get a seminary degree where you are, think again.

About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge has served as Dean at one of the world’s largest residential theological seminaries, served on staff at several churches helping to develop the ministry skills of leaders, taught in blended programs, and is now the president of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.










Rockbridge Seminary Graduation

Graduation ceremonies for Rockbridge Seminary were held on June 2, 2017 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri.  The seminary conferred degrees on 48 students, its largest class yet, making a total of 309 since its founding.

Corey Tabor (MML) brought the invocation, Steve Gallimore (MDiv) read scripture, and Wes Bowen (MDiv) led the congregational singing. Dr. Dr. Mark Simpson led a special time when faculty, mentors, and family prayed for the graduates.

Citing Matthew 5:14, Dr. Daryl Eldridge, President, called this class a new generation of light bearers.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! (Matt. 5:14, The Message)

Eldridge praised this group of graduates for their resilience and for dispelling the darkness in the world.

“You are the light of the world,” apply to this extraordinary group of servant leaders.  In our graduating class are pastors of rural churches and campus pastors of multi-campus churches.  Women and men.  Some derive their only source of income from the church or a ministry organization, while others serve in the marketplace as an insurance agent, parole officer, Christian bookstore retailer, teacher in a Christian school, owner of a music studio, real estate agent, resource specialist in a public school, medical physicist, budget analyst, and pharmacist. Our graduates include worship leaders, church planters, youth and collegiate ministers, and missionaries.

You see the influence of our graduates around the world. They are bringing light to families, businesses, neighborhoods, churches, and ministry organizations.  They help transform others through their servant leadership. They serve in jail ministries, food pantries, motel ministries, and as hospital and hospice chaplains.  They often serve where few others are willing to go.

Rockbridge is a non-denominational fully-only seminary built on the five purposes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, and Evangelism/Missions.  The school was founded in 2003 and has students in over 20 countries.

The commencement program may be downloaded here.  A video of the ceremony may be downloaded at this link.

Why Online Learning is Anyplace Learning

When we think of learning we think of going to school. For some of us that meant getting up early to wake the rooster, do some chores, and then head out for the school building. For others, it meant scrambling to get out of bed in the hopes of catching our ride to school that just pulled up at the door. The common denominator in either scenario was going from home to another location to learn.

Once we got to school, learning took place in one or more classrooms. We sat in our places with bright shiny faces—or droopy ones if you forgot to eat breakfast—and the teacher dished out the knowledge de jour. Between classes learning was supposed to take place in the reverent halls of the library. In that bastion of silence, we were expected to learn from the stacks of tomes about us, even if we did not actually open many of them.

When we eventually got back home, which seemed like an eternity later, we usually were asked if we had done our homework. Regardless of how you answered that question, it usually meant sitting down at the dining room table to study, or going to your room to study, which translated means, “try to keep out of trouble—I’m busy.”

Anyplace learning in those days was defined as the school classroom, the school or local library, the dining room table, your bedroom, or on occasion, a corner of the room with your face turned toward the wall because you avoided the other locations. But today the definition of anyplace learning has changed significantly, and in your favor!

Online Learning

Online learning is exactly that. Instead of having to go to a specific classroom at a specific time on a specific day or days, online learning begins online, at any time day or night. In online learning the student logs into a course, reads news and announcements from the instructor, and then proceeds to view and respond to the course materials provided for the current Unit of study. Course materials are usually in the form of presentations, media clips, web site materials, online articles, and discussion forums. These learning activities are explored when it is convenient for you. Anytime learning is also known as asynchronous online learning. If a course were to require meeting online at a set day and time, it is known as synchronous online learning.

But setting the time element aside, there is another benefit to online learning.

Anyplace Learning

Anyplace learning is another feature of online learning. Anyplace learning means that you do not have to be in a specific location to learn—you just need Internet access. You can study at your local coffee shop, your favorite park bench, your favorite chair at home, at your workplace during your lunch break—anyplace you choose. With anyplace learning your classroom is where you are, not where you have to be!

Using a smartphone or mobile device to access your classroom also expands your anyplace learning options. Using a mobile device means your classroom is always with you. Waiting in the car for friends or family to get done shopping—visit your online classroom. Sitting in the waiting room for an appointment—visit your online classroom. Your classroom is anyplace you are (except while driving of course).

Learn More About Our Anyplace Learning Community

Rockbridge Seminary would be pleased to help you determine if online anyplace learning is a good fit for you. To set up an appointment with an academic coach, call (866) 931-4300 or email

About the Writer: Dr. Mark Simpson is the Chief Academic Officer of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited school. He has served as Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies and Digital Learning at one of the largest residential theological seminaries, and developed fully online courses and programs as Coordinator of Online Learning for a Christian university. Dr. Simpson has been teaching fully online courses for theological education since the late 1990’s.

Rock’r News – May 2016

Faculty Spotlight – Dr. John Neesley

Dr. John Neesley is the senior pastor at Lazybrook Baptist Church in Houston Texas, a contributing partner of Rockbridge. John has been the pastor at Lazybrook sine August 1996. He graduated from LSU where John Neesley 2he cut his teeth on presenting the gospel in a party atmosphere. His Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary and his PhD from New Orleans Seminary helped to solidify his understanding of the Bible in dialoging with others.  He married his high school sweetheart, Bobbye, in 1982.  She is a substitute teacher, reading specialist and assists with preschoolers at church. Their oldest child, Natalie, is married to Austen and is mom to Kate, who is John and Bobbye’s 1st grandchild.  “Pops” loves his visits to Ft Worth to see Kate!  Their youngest, Andrew, is married to Hunter and is a teacher.  John is a “gym rat,” who spends mornings at the fitness club working out, running and swimming.  He and Andrew love to shout for all the local sports teams & they have been known to make road trips to see their beloved Astros play.  Dr. Neesley teaches Biblical Hermeneutics and New Testament Survey and has been on faculty since 2007.

Partner Highlight – Life Purpose Coaching Centers International®

Dr. Katie Brazelton is the founder of Life Purpose Coaching Centers International®, which trains Christian men and women from all over the world (via online, tele-conferences) to become Professional Certified Life Coaches.  Through this vibrant ministry, thousands of people have been help to discover and fulfill their own unique life purpose — in order to live full and abundant lives. Dr. Brazelton has been a teacher professor for Rockbridge Seminary and now serves on the Board of Trustees. If you are interested in becoming a life coach, or finding a Life Coach to help you discover your purpose, check out this extraordinary organization.

Discover Hope for Your Church: Purpose Driven Conference 2016

Join us on June 28-30, to hear Rick Warren share what he has learned from 36 years as pastor at Saddleback Church.  In that time, we’ve baptized more new believers (43,018), put more people into small group Bible studies (over 38,000 meet weekly in 8,420 small groups), and sent out more members on mission (26,846 members have served in 196 countries) than any American church.

This is one conference you don’t want to miss. Sign up at PD.CHURCH.

Graduation – June 3, 2016 at Preston Trail Community Church, Frisco, TX.

Online Giving – We are grateful to our donors who make it possible for students to receive ministry leadership training.  Rockbridge is a 401(C)3 non-profit corporation and your gifts are tax deductible. You may send your gifts to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65804 or give online.

Seminary Update

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David Zink Receives Graduate Award from BACE

David Zink, 2015 Master of Divinity graduate, received the Graduate Award in Christian Education from the Baptist Association of Christian Education. The award was presented at their annual meeting on April 14.  The award is given to a graduating student who has been involved in a local church and serving in the area of Christian Educational ministry.  Zink lives in Missouri and serves as the Campus Life Supervisor for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.  Before this appointment he served as Chaplain Mercy Hospital and Youth Pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church, in Springfield, MO.

Graduation Celebration – June 3, Frisco, Texas

Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, TX, is the site of this year’s graduation ceremonies. In addition to commemorating the accomplishments of our graduates, the school will also celebrate accreditation and the build-out of the institution.  Four international students are in the 2015-16 graduating class.  The celebration begins at 7:00 p.m. at 8055 Independence Parkway, Frisco, TX 75035. A reception will follow.  All graduates, board members, donors, and friends of the institution are invited to attend.

Thank you for your Gifts!

Our seminary programs are thousands of dollars  less expensive than other seminaries. This is only possible through the generous contributions of friends and alumni. No gift is too small to make a difference. Click here to give online or you can mail a check to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65804.






Renewal of Accreditation

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) renewed the accreditation of Rockbridge through 2021. Founded in 1926, DEAC is the premier accrediting agency for online education. DEAC initially received federal recognition in 1959 and has continually held recognition by the U.S. Department of Education ever since. Federal recognition aims to ensure that accreditors meet expectations for institutional and program participation in federal activities, such as federal financial aid programs. DEAC is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Reaccreditation takes place every 5 years.

Final Approval Step for Doctor of Ministry Program

The Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership program received final approval from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.  The Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership (DMin) is a professional doctorate designed for men and women who hold the M.Div. or its educational equivalent and who have engaged in substantial ministry leadership. Students develop transformational leadership competencies in areas such as spirituality, spiritual community, transformational discipleship, organizational leadership, and missional leadership.

Click here for more information on this program.

New Website

Please check out the redesign of our public website

You Are Welcome at Rockbridge Online Theological Seminary

Article by Dr. Sam Simmons

At Rockbridge Seminary, you are a valued member of the learning community. In every class, you and other students are invited to participate in a learning journey that welcomes participation. As a result, learning community conversations become important opportunities for students and professors to celebrate the wonder of God’s Kingdom. The old way of talking heads, lectures, note-taking, and class conversations dominated by the few is replaced by a learning community in which every participant, professor and student, makes a significant contribution.

What unique, Kingdom perspectives do you bring to the learning community conversation? Here are three perspectives you share.

  1. Your Cultural Perspective — One advantage of Rockbridge Seminary’s online programs is that students enroll without the geographical boundaries limiting traditional programs. Imagine joining a class with students, as an example, based in China, Taiwan, Romania, and Kenya. Their cultural perspectives are fresh, authentic, and current. Just as your learning is enhanced by their unique cultural perspectives within classroom discussions and projects, so also they benefit from your participation. Each class becomes a reminder that the citizens of God’s Kingdom are marvelously diverse.
  2. Your Ministry Perspective — Imagine discussing church ministry strategy, issues, and challenges with fellow students who struggle in ways similar to you. Different ministry contexts stimulate different ideas, approaches, and solutions. Discussions are relevant, helpful, and supportive. Your ministry context gives you important perspective to share, just as the perspectives of your fellow students help you.
  3. Your Theological Perspective — The Truth of Scripture is expressed and applied within the Evangelical faith community in wonderfully diverse ways. In a seminary class of around 10 students, you become part of a journey seeking to know more of God and how to please Him. Class discussions are faith-building. Ideas are presented and challenged. Growth emerges out of the age-old process of “iron sharpening iron.” The theological perspectives shaped into your life become part of this amazing work of learning in community.

Are you looking for a seminary that values you and the perspectives God is building into your life? Consider enrolling in one of Rockbridge Seminary’s online programs. The learning community you join will enrich you while you enrich others.

Sam Simmons

Dr. Sam Simmons is Chief Learning Officer and Professor of Global Studies for Rockbridge Seminary, an accredited fully online seminary. Before helping launch Rockbridge Seminary in 2004, he directed the Southern California Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Sam lives part of the year in Bali, Indonesia, providing community service through English tutoring and coaching.





3 Ways to Determine if an Online Seminary is Right for You

Select your course for the upcoming termWith many seminaries now offering online courses, what should a prospective student look for in an online program? What makes a great online experience? Let’s assume you have researched various institutions concerning their theological positions, tuition, curriculum, and faculty. You’ve also determined that either an online seminary or a residential seminary will meet your learning goals. If all of those factors are equal, how do you determine if an online seminary is right for you? Here are 3 questions to help you make that decision:

  1. How do you best learn? Do you enjoy listening to lectures, discussing theological concepts with friends, reading, or applying what you learn in a local church setting? Do you learn best in a social setting or by yourself? Are you well organized and self-motivated? Some students need the structure of going to a physical classroom 2-3 times a week. They enjoy listening to lectures, taking tests, and writing academic papers. Others prefer to work at their own pace and set their own schedule. Others discover they learn best by having opportunities to practice principles learned in class. Online programs provide a great opportunity for students to stay engaged in their ministry make immediate application to their ministry. Research the online seminary and ask for a study guide and evaluate what types of activities are involved in courses and if it is suited for you.
  2. Do You Enjoy Interaction? In a residential setting, particularly if the classes are large, interaction between the professor and students, and among other students is limited. In an online course, students are expected to log in 3-4 times a week and engage their classmates and professor in meaning conversations. If you enjoy writing your thoughts and dialoging with friends through email, you will do well in an online program. At Rockbridge Seminary, classes are limited to 15 persons so students get personal interaction with colleagues from around the world.
  3. What technological and academic support is provided? Both residential and online programs require technology. Research the requirements of the school for Internet access, software, and browsers. Are you expected to purchase Bible software, and does the school have preferences of Bible software?

If you have trouble who is there to support you? It’s good idea to talk to a current student to see what support they have needed and how quickly faculty, administration, and tech support responded to their cry for help. Rockbridge requires faculty and staff to respond to inquiries within 24 hours of the inquiry, and typically response within 12 hours. (Faculty and staff do have to sleep.) In student surveys that assess the quality of teaching and learning at Rockbridge support that 82% agree or strongly agree that the course professor was responsive and helpful whenever they requested assistance and 15% indicated they did not require assistance. When students are asked, “When I requested registration assistance or academic advice, the seminary was responsive and helpful,” 52% indicated they had not needed assistance and 48% said they agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.

The best online programs provide learning environments that are simple to navigate. At Rockbridge, every class has the same structure, so students don’t have to figure out how each class is designed. We have students from around the world. Most of our students have been out of an academic setting for 20+ years and are nervous about entering the rigor of seminary studies. They have concerns about technology and the online classroom. Ninety-nine percent of students indicated, “The online classroom was easy for me to use.”

There are many things to consider when determining the next steps in your ministry training. Is an online seminary right for you?

About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge has served as Dean at one of the largest residential theological seminaries, served on staff at several churches helping to develop the ministry skills of leaders, taught in blended programs, and is now the president of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.




Fear Not

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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11, KJV)

Since the heinous terroristic violence in San Bernardino, politicians, pundits, and the media have played to the public’s fears. If the goal of terrorists is to spread fear and panic, the news would certainly indicate they accomplished their goal. While such tragic events are impossible to understand, every generation has experienced the cruel work of depraved men and women. The time of the birth of Jesus was no exception. When Herod the Great heard that a child king had been born among the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all children under the age of two who lived in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The wise men warned Joseph and Mary, who immediately took their newborn and fled to Egypt. Yes, they too were refugees.

In my sacred imagination, I think of shepherds living during the time of Jesus’ birth as being pretty tough hombres. They dealt with attacks of wild animals on their flocks, bands of thieves, and the harsh elements. Armed with only knives, slingshots, and staffs, they courageously defended themselves and their way of life. While they didn’t have a No Fear logo on their tunics, these men were not easily frightened. This is why the announcement of the angel to the shepherds revealed the awesome power and majesty of God. On this special night, away from the safety of their village, the shepherds were confronted with a sight unlike any they had ever seen. These normally fearless men were terrified. The unknown, uncertainty, and things beyond our control can create fear.

After the recent massacre in California, a dear pastor friend had a member ask him, “What are we going to do if a terrorist comes into our church and blows it up?” Pastor Randy replied, “We’re going to Glory!” He later said, “I’m still trying to see the downside of that.” I agree with Pastor Randy when he added, “I’m sick and tired of everybody running scared.” Christians have nothing to fear. In the midst of persecution, Paul reminded the early band of Christians, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7)

This Christmas season, let us tune out the messages of fear. Some politicians breed fear because they want you to think they are the answer to our problems. They portray themselves as knights on white horses. Our hope is not in our government, 401k’s, bank accounts, the military, or public officials. Our hope is not in Wall Street, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or a wall along our border. Our hope is in Christ the Lord! Don’t allow fear to paralyze you from experiencing the power and love of God.

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support in 2015. During this season and these unsettling times, may the words of the angel give you hope and courage. May you and your family experience true peace that comes from God through Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!



International Student Scholarship

Dear Friends,

One of our desires is to train more international students who cannot afford a seminary degree. In this effort we are establishing an International Scholarship Fund. There are 3 ways you could help us:

  1. Contribute to the International Scholarship Fund. Any amount, small or large, is greatly appreciated.
  1. Email 10 of your family and friends and encourage them to give to the scholarship. Here is a sample of how that email might look:

As you may know, I am a supporter of Rockbridge Seminary. This year they are establishing an International Scholarship Fund and this project will have a big impact on training international pastors and leaders.

I am supporting this initiative and wondering if you would consider joining me? What better investment could there be than to develop and train Kingdom leaders? Here is a convenient link if God prompts you to give:

  1. Use your social media to share about this International Scholarship Fund.

Thank you in advance for helping us fulfill our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry. We are so blessed with Alumni who are impacting the world for Christ.

Have a blest Christmas season,

6 Easy Steps to Getting Your Masters of Divinity Online, by Linda McGee-Graber


  1. Flexibility: An online Master of Divinity program allows a student to fit course work into an already full daily schedule. Selecting online courses give students the opportunity to plan their study time around the rest of their day, instead of trying to balance their normal daily schedule to accommodate study time. The flexibility of attending class online works with the student’s schedule so as never to miss a family activity or ministry commitment.
  1. Anywhere study: One of benefits of online study is that a student does not have to get dressed up. Women can attend class without make-up or making certain they are having a good hair day. No one cares if you stay in your pajamas while in the online classroom. You do not have to fight rush hour traffic, commute to campus, locate a parking place, and rush from class to class. Weather is not a factor with online study, never a need to worry about the heat, rain, or snow causing you to be late to class. Choices of location where a student studies is endless; world-wide study from various countries, lake settings, sitting by a warm fireplace in the mountains, in a swing on the porch, relaxing at the beach, or even while soaking in a bathtub.
  1. Anytime study and Self-paced learning: Most online classrooms are available 24/7, thus making the classroom experience adjustable to the student’s schedule. Anytime study, works for the student who delights in rising early to attend class, prefers going to class during lunchtime breaks, or desires to attend class late in the evening. The opportunity at working at your own pace can provide a more effective learning method for independent learners. Self-paced learning puts the student in charge of when and how much to study for each course.
  1. Accelerated courses and classroom interactions: Many online programs do one course at a time over a shorter time span with intense learning experiences. A student can download all the course work and begin completing as many assignments as time will permit before the due date to upload into the classroom to their professor. Interaction with classmates in a classroom forum can be a positive learning experience. Generally there is more interaction in an online classroom than in a traditional classroom. Sometime online interaction is less threatening for the quieter more reserved student who will seldom participate in a traditional classroom.
  1. Affordability: Online learning does not have the cost of maintenance expenses of brick and mortar campuses. Online program many times provide a more affordable option than traditional seminaries. Many textbooks are now available on electronic reading devices lessening the cost of textbooks. Kindle provides a free application that will download onto a computer. There are no costs for commuting to campus or additional required campus expenses.
  1. Linda Graber, Admissions CoachSession options: Many online programs provide various sessions or terms during the year instead of taking courses by semester sessions. The session options works for the student who needs to take a term or session off for family, ministry commitments, or financial reasons.

About the Writer: Linda Graber has served as the Director of Alumni Relations and Ministry Partnerships for Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary since 2013. She is 2008 graduate of Rockbridge Seminary having earned her Master’s in Ministry Leadership. Linda is also a Life Purpose Coach/Instructor with Life Purpose Coaching Centers International.