Five Ways to Support Rockbridge Seminary And It Won’t Cost You A Cent

There are many different ways you can support Rockbridge Seminary.  Here are five things you can do and it won’t break your piggy bank.

1.   Have you heard about Amazon Smile?

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Rockbridge receives hundreds of dollars from our supporters through this program.  To learn how your shopping can support Rockbridge, check this link.

2.  Social Media
Another way to help Rockbridge is through your social media. Please share your experience and support through your social media, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media formats.  Find Rockbridge on the following media and follow or friend us.

Please send us your social media address so we can follow YOU.

3.  Refer Friends and Prospective Students to Admissions
The best prospect come from alumni, faculty, students, friends, and family members.  Prayerfully think about people you know who could benefit from our practical ministry training.  You may send prospective names and contact info to admissions@rockbridge.edu.

4.  Put Rockbridge Seminary on Your Church or Ministry Website
Many churches encourage its members to investigate ministry training with a link from their website. We would be honored to provide a banner or marketing materials for you to share our mission with others.

5.  Partner with Us
Ask your church to be a partner with us in training servant leaders for Christian ministry.  Check out our partners page.

 

By |2018-10-04T20:31:52-05:00October 4th, 2018|

Different On Purpose

Why are you on this earth? What is the meaning of life? In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states that are all born by God’s purpose and for God’s purpose. Our Creator has given each of us specific spiritual gifts, habits, abilities, personality, and experiences to fulfill his purpose. No two of us are alike. We’re all different on purpose. So is Rockbridge Seminary.

In 2003, we began dreaming of a new type of seminary. Pastors and lay leaders told us the number one problem in churches is leadership. Ministers trained in the traditional seminary model know how to parse Greek verbs, but they don’t know how to lead a group of believers to impact their community.

I went to Saddleback Church and talked with Dr. Sam Simmons, who had the same vision for ministry training. Simmons was the director of one of the campuses for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I had known Sam for several years, and his article on redesigning seminary had been instrumental in my thinking about how to train a new generation of pastors. From that meeting at Saddleback, the two of us, along with Dr. Gary Waller, charted a course to implement this vision: to develop servant leaders for Christian ministry by using experiences that allowed ministers to study and practice without leaving their ministry field.

From its inception, Rockbridge was designed to be a different kind of seminary. The school is unique in that it emphasizes calling, competencies, coaching, and community. This article addresses one of these intentional differences—Purpose Driven Competencies.

Most seminaries are built on the German model of theological education that is broken down into departments of theological inquiry, such as New Testament, Old Testament, systematic theology, and pastoral ministry.
We deliberately broke that mold and designed the curriculum around the five biblical purposes for our lives and for the Church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. (Acts 2:42-47)

Through practical projects and exercises, each course helps learners develop ministry skills in those five purposes. This competency-guided approach is unique to seminary training. For example, if you want to learn how to develop small groups and lead them to birth new groups, we have an excellent course that will help you improve your skills in that competency. Or, you may want to improve your skills at interpreting the biblical text and applying its truth to life situations. The course in biblical hermeneutics would help you grow in that ministry skill.

Rockbridge Seminary is dedicated to help men and women discover and live out their life purpose. If you, or others you know, want to discover and practice your life purpose, we want to walk alongside you in that spiritual journey.

Registration for the October 26 term begins September 27.  Contact admissions@rockbridge.edu for help applying or registration.

 

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 and cofounder of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.

By |2018-09-20T21:07:24-05:00September 20th, 2018|

The Journey – It’s the Experience

We live in an experience economy. Today it is not about the destination, but the experience. Adult learners are not interested in being silent spectators. They want to be active participants. If learning is indeed the experience and not the stamp on the passport, what makes for a good learning experience?

There are many ways to travel and experience new horizons. One is to go with a large group hosted by a travel guide. This is economical and efficient. You get to see a lot of venues in a short period of time and buffets are included. People sit in rows in buses and listen to an expert lecture through a loud speaker system. Travelers are herded to well-known sights where they receive additional information and a quick investigation of the destination. They are shuffled again onto the bus and on to another city or cultural marker. There is little opportunity for a serendipitous adventure or taste of the local cuisine. The vacationers’ senses are so overloaded with information they can’t absorb it all. Thousands of pictures are taken, but they can’t remember much about the sight. Their passports are stamped and can be proudly displayed to friends. They are off to other countries, never to return to this one. The experience is about the travel guide and the stamp. Should they return on the trip, they would hear the same commentary and see the same sights. This is old school.

Imagine instead a group of friends that set their own course. Instead of a bus, they fly a private jet with clusters of seating facing one another to encourage conversation. Each traveler has read books about their destination, particularly on topics of their own interest. Each person becomes an “expert” on the journey and the collective exchange is greater than the one. They stop and peruse sites on their own time schedule. This arrangement allows for the group to explore the region, not just the tourist traps.

Experts are enlisted from time to time to answer questions and provide suggestions of other places they should explore. The group encounters locals who join them in the journey and serve as color analysts. The experience is centered on the goals of the sojourner, not the expert guide. They pause for a meal in an outdoor café and enjoy the sights, sounds, and the language of the people. Even the bad experiences are embraced and valued, because the travelers own the adventure. It is often the unforeseen experiences that are remembered the most. An explorer accompanies a fellow trekker, an expert photographer, on a photo shoot. This colleague gives the amateur tips on what to look for in order to capture the essence of the local people.

Adventurers arrive back home with more than a stamp on their passports. Their diaries are full of stories and adventures. They have an appreciation for the people and culture of their trip and a desire explore the region again, because every trip and every experience is different.

Each of these types of learning experiences has advantages and disadvantages. Some prefer to sit and listen. Others want to engage more deeply in the learning process. We know that students learn more when all of their senses are used and they are involved in the learning process. At Rockbridge Seminary, we’re about engaging people in a learning community. We are the private jet, not the tourist bus. Our curriculum is learner centered, rather than content centered. Students are responsible for their learning, but they are aided in their journey by expert faculty members and mentors. The student and faculty are colleagues, both contributing to the experience. Which learning approach is best for you? Do you want to be a tourist or a trekker?

By |2018-09-07T18:55:03-05:00September 7th, 2018|

What Makes a Great Student?

As students are returning to school, this is a worthwhile question to ask.  It is easy to criticize teachers and complain about deficiencies in our schools, but teachers are only part of the equation. Students and parents share responsibility for learning outcomes. Great schools are determined not just by the caliber of their faculty, but by the caliber of their students. I have been fortunate to be associated with great students at Rockbridge Seminary.  Our average student age is 42.  Some haven’t been in a formal educational environment since college, decades ago, yet they exemplify what it means to be great learners. Here is what I have learned from them.  Great learners are:

  1. Curious– This quality sets good students apart. Curious students ask thoughtful questions (not “is this going to be on the test?”). Great students want to know how things work. They ask, “How did you do that?” or “What would it look like if we did that?”  They are inquisitive, hungry to understand the world. Our students at Rockbridge thirst for the knowledge of God.
  2. Humble – Humble students understand they don’t have all the answers. You can’t learn if you already know it all. People who live long enough usually look back and laugh at how they thought they had life all figured out in their earlier years—time and experience taught them that they didn’t know as much as they thought.  Recently, I bought a t-shirt that reads on the back, “Pon-tif-i-cate: Express one’s opinions in a way considered annoying, pompous, and dogmatic.”  The front of the shirt reads, “If I pontificate, snap my wristband.” This is a reminder to not take myself so seriously and to learn by listening to other points of view.
  3. Teachable– You can acknowledge you don’t know everything, but that doesn’t always mean you are open to learning new things. People who are unteachable say things like, “I just can’t do that.” “I’m not wired that way.”  “I’m stupid.” “I’m not good at ______.” Teachable people are open to learning from everything and everyone. They love to be around people who challenge their thinking and help them grow. They look for ways to apply what they learn.
  4. Unlearners – In order to learn, sometimes you have to unlearn. Good students discard old ways of thinking and assimilate new ideas.  Jesus repeatedly said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, . . . but I say to you . . .” (Matt 5:17-48).  Jesus taught that you don’t put new wine into old wineskins.  The disciples had to discard some old ways of thinking.
  5. Failures – Yes, you read it correctly.  Whether you are learning racquetball, speaking a new language, preaching, or going back to school in your 40s, there will be failures. Some of our greatest lessons in life come when we fail. Failure is part of learning. You can’t walk on water if you don’t get out of the boat (Matthew 14:22-33). Do poorly on a paper? What did you learn that will help you do better next time?Did poor time management affect your study habits? What can you do to prevent that?  Got dinged for grammar?  Thank God for spellchecker and the Internet. Every failure provides an opportunity to learn.

We are created to learn. We live in an amazing time in history with abundant opportunities for growth and exploration. May each of us make the most of our days by being great learners.

By |2018-08-25T04:28:19-05:00August 25th, 2018|

Traditional Seminary vs. Online Seminary – which is right for you?

Today, persons called to ministry have many options for their training. With more than 500 seminaries, 1200 Bible colleges, and several hundred Christian Colleges that offer ministry tracks, the choices are daunting. How do you sort through the various opportunities and simplify your decision-making process? The following examines the pros and cons of two of these options: traditional and online seminaries.

Traditional Seminaries
By far the most typical form of seminary training is residential. The advantage of a residential campus experience is face-to-face interaction with colleagues and faculty. Residential programs also provide extracurricular activities, hard-copy libraries, recreational facilities, and other amenities you would expect from living on or near a campus.

The disadvantages of this approach are that students usually have to leave home, bear the costs of moving to a campus, and work in secular employment or live in poverty in order to acquire a seminary degree. The sacrifices can be great, particularly for older students. Often students are disengaged from ministry for 3-6 years because local churches see them as drifters who won’t be there long, or the opportunities for vocational ministry positions are scarce. Students may find there is less interaction with peers than expected. Married graduate students hustle from class, to work, to church, with little margin for hanging out and discussing theology with friends.

Critics say that residential seminary training is not practical, but that is dependent more upon the curriculum than the location. Some students find they are not disciplined enough to study on their own, and don’t do well in online studies. They need the structure that physical classes provide.

Fully Online Seminaries
The fastest growing form of seminary education is online studies. The advantage of online seminaries is that students can remain in their ministry field or secular employment and obtain theological and ministry training at lower costs to their family. They don’t have to uproot their family to acquire the education they seek.

The disadvantage of online learning is much the same as shopping online. Amazon is convenient and cheaper, but some want to visit a store where they can touch the fabric and talk face-to-face to a salesperson. Others prefer to save time and money, by reading reviews and ordering the product online, with the knowledge they can send the product back if it doesn’t fulfill their expectations. The risk and cost for attending a fully online program are less than residential programs. While some online students are engaged in their course work and in interactions with fellow students, they can feel disconnected from their school because of this lack of physical presence.

As with residential programs, there is a wide range of online seminary programs. Some are nothing more than self-paced correspondence courses with video lectures and tests. The best online communities require high interaction and engagement through chats, forums, and audio/video conferencing. Twenty years ago, critics claimed that the learning outcomes of online classes were less robust than those of residential classes, but recent research shows just the opposite: students engaged in online learning achieve learning outcomes that are at least as good as, or better than, those achieved by students engaged in residential studies. Once skeptical of online learning, churches, employers, and society have accepted this form of education.

As our society has discovered, lifelong friendships and supportive networks can be developed online. Online doesn’t have to mean non-relational. Some students who have attended both residential and online seminaries say they know their online colleagues and professors better than they did fellow students and faculty in residential programs. Students who do well with email and staying in touch with family and friends through social media adapt well to this learning environment.

Prospective students should be aware that graduate-level education, regardless of its form, requires discipline, time management, and effort. Online courses, though convenient, require as much time and energy, if not more, than residential programs. We’d be honored to help you determine which approach is best for you. To set up an appointment with an academic coach, call 866-931-4300 or email academics@rockbridge.edu.

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.

By |2018-08-15T20:50:34-05:00August 15th, 2018|

3 Reasons We Recommend Attending Seminary Online

by Dr. Randy Millwood

Did you know the word seminary is actually an agricultural term? It comes from the Latin for seed and essentially refers to the plot &process whereby seeds grow.

My sweet wife is a gardener, so, over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about that world – things that surprisingly relates directly to the question of why you (or anyone) might attend to seminary online!

1. The Richer the Environment, the Healthier the Seed

The soil is crucial! Dark, rich, nutrient packed, aerated soil. That’s the environment in which seeds spring to life.

I taught for over a decade for a brick-and-mortar seminary. So, I know the give-and-take of coffee shop conversations with peers on a similar journey. As wonderful as it can be, there is also a secret weakness to that environment: the absence of a real world perspective.

While it is true that seeds can be manipulated in a laboratory, the setting for which they were made is the real world.

Students who attend seminary online with Rockbridge do still engage in those thought-provoking conversations with people on a similar journey (and not just those of your tribe, but people from around the globe). However, they get to do so while living and serving in the real world – that place where new things actually do spring to life!

In that real world students carry those stimulating dialogs from the laboratory into wisdom-laden coaching sessions with mentors and immediate application in their place of service.

2. The Healthier the Seed, the Healthier the Plant

The seeds themselves come in all shapes and sizes. They can come from healthy or not-so-healthy sources.

For an apple tree, it’s an apple seed. For a tomato plant, it’s a tomato seed. And, for an online seminary, the seed is the curriculum plan.

Rockbridge has carefully and thoughtfully brought together what is often two separate departments at many schools… a truly integrated approach to theology (our thinking about God) and theopraxis (our life in Christ and service in God’s Kingdom).

While apparent at every turn of a Rockbridge learning journey, no place is it more evident than in our core courses – The Theology and Practice of… worship, evangelism, ministry, fellowship, and discipleship.

Classical, departmental approaches to seminary education are often built on the expertise of excellent faculty. However, the student is left with figuring out exactly how something applies in life and ministry – and often they don’t even get to wrestle with this challenge for years after the content was taught!

The online seminary world of Rockbridge keeps the excellence in faculty. Yet, the courses are shaped so both sides of this unspoken coin (theology and theopraxis) are explored in the same setting. And, as if the course and faculty were not enough, the addition of a field mentor and ministry-setting/project-type assignments alongside of research and reading only serves to enrich the health of that seed!

3. The Healthier the Plant, the Healthier the Fruit

Precisely because online students are integrating their learning and doing so in the rich soil of their place of service, the fruit starts maturing during the seminary journey, not just after you graduate.

Our Rockbridge online seminary students begin their journey (Touchstone) with an intense time of self-discovery, resulting in a learning path with student determined objectives and goals. Then, in the end (Capstone) they reassess those very same items, asking others around them to make that assessment more objective by offering their input.

Through a combination of guided reflection, deepened self-awareness, informed review of ministry-based projects completed, and discovery dialog with those who have watched their lives up close during their seminary journey, our students are able to actually see how they have grown over the course of their seminary journey.

The fruit of an online seminary model are too many to count with any degree of accuracy…

The external – new ideas and strategies for their church or ministry.
The internal – a more life giving walk with Christ.
Worldwide friendships – using small classes you are not a computer I.D., rather a person who engages thorough forum-posts and makes generous responses, helping Rockbridge students build lifelong relationships.
There are even financial benefits – from reasonable tuition to e-books to an online pace that expects ministry-based students to take a term off here or there; the vast majority of our students graduate without incurring student debt.

Healthy environment.
Healthy seed.
Healthy plant.
Healthy fruit.

Each one builds on the other.

An online seminary education gives you an outstanding opportunity to shape “the plot/process where seeds grow” and that, after all, is what seminary is all about.

About the Writer: Dr. Randy Millwood has served as planter, pastor, and in a variety of pastoral staff roles with local churches; as full time Church Health and Spiritual Formation faculty for one of the nation’s largest residential theological seminaries; and as a national Church Growth consultant for a Christian publishing house. He is currently the Team Strategist for Church Strengthening with the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, and an adjunct faculty member in graduate and doctoral programs with several seminaries, including Rockbridge Seminary.

By |2018-08-04T00:50:31-05:00August 4th, 2018|

Theology AND Practice

One of the grave dangers of the Church and for every Christian is to believe what the Bibles says, but not practice those beliefs. James expressed it this way,

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says(bold mine.) Anyone who listens to the word but does not dowhat it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.  (James 1:22, NIV, bold mine)

Our five core courses examine the biblical theology for why the church exists as found in Acts 2:42-47. This beautiful passage portrays how these early Christians spent their time and energies. Our five core courses are Theology and Practice of . . . worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism/missions. Students develop a systematic biblical understanding of theology, but they also learn how to put those biblical foundations into practice in their unique ministry context.

Pastors and church ministers are called to lead others.  People need to know “why,” but they also must be taught “how.”  It is important to tell believers to be engaged in discipleship, evangelism, and the other tasks of the Church, but unless leaders give people the tools for practicing their faith, doctrinal teaching will have little impact on the lives of others.

Facebook

Check out our Facebook page @rockbridgeseminary. If you have taken one of our core courses, please post how the course helped you do church.

End of the Year Giving

We are so blessed to have so many supporters of our mission to develop servant leaders for Christian ministry. One third of student costs is covered by the faithful giving of people like you.  Here is how you can help.

By |2018-07-13T16:22:26-05:00July 13th, 2018|

Leaders Develop Others

Examine the background of the original 12 disciples of Jesus and you’ll discover they were not the best of the best.    The group contained hot heads, a tax collector, a thief, several fishermen, and one who wanted to overthrow the government. They didn’t have formal training. They didn’t go to rabbinical school. They had not previously studied under a master teacher. But, Jesus saw their potential and developed them into a band that changed the world.

There are several ways churches can develop their leadership team.

  1. Create a culture of learning in your staff. Read books together. Go to conferences together. Listen to podcasts and discuss. Each week study a chapter in a book and discuss the implications for your church and ministry. Teach your staff and members the theology and strategy for developing attenders to become like Jesus. Teach your leaders the DNA of your church. Are your leaders better today because you invested in their training?
  2. Give them time off to visit other churches and ministries. Find other churches that are doing well at first impressions, the CLASS system, or empowering volunteers.  Send your people to learn from them. Sometimes one new idea can make a huge impact in your church’s ministry.  In what areas does your church need to improve?  Where could they go and learn from others who are doing it well?
  3. Send them to conferences. At a recent Purpose Driven Church conference, several churches brought car loads of leaders and members. Rock Brook Church in Belton, Missouri, brought 17 of its paid and volunteer staff to the conference. Over half of those who attended the conference had never been before. These churches were helping their leaders become even better leaders. However, don’t just send them to conferences and not implement what they have learned. Ask everyone to develop a 90-day plan to implement 1-3 things they learned at the conference.  Ask them to teach what they learned to others in the church.
  4. Help them get a degree. Saddleback Church provides scholarships for their staff to go to a college or seminary. Rockbridgeis a perfect solution for churches that want to develop leaders. Because we are 100% online, students don’t have to leave their ministry field in order to get training. Rockbridge is the only seminary built on the five purposes of the church.

Leaders who value others in their organization, set aside time and money to develop them. What is your plan for developing your ministry team?

By |2018-06-29T23:07:16-05:00June 29th, 2018|

3 Reasons to Keep Away from Online Theology Schools

There are many valid reasons to attend an online theology school, but people often don’t warn you about why you shouldn’t attend an online seminary. The hidden truth of the shortcomings of online seminaries is now revealed. Here are 3 reasons why you should keep away from an online theology school.

There is no commute time
If you choose to attend an online theology school, think of the hours of “me” time you will miss by not commuting. You won’t get to listen to music, enjoy road rage, or drive around campus for 30 minutes looking for a parking space. Attending an online theology school is the most narcissistic thing you can do. Think of the people in the business office that will lose their jobs because online students are not buying parking decals every year. Commuting is simply good stewardship.

There is nothing better than being stuck in traffic on your way to school. It develops character and your prayer life. Who needs the prayer closet when you have a long commute to seminary? Without a commute, you miss the opportunity to pray for the man in the next lane who is giving you a hand gesture, or the woman in the MINI Cooper with a COEXIST Peace Religion sticker on her window. What about the extra credit you will lose from your evangelism class if a “Honk if you love Jesus” sticker on your bumper no longer counts? Surely an hour in traffic is an hour of witnessing. If you are stopped for speeding, police are sympathetic of seminarians driving and memorizing Greek using flash cards. When the police approach your vehicle, practice your Greek and say “εἰρήνη.”

An online school doesn’t build up the immune system
How can you fulfill the biblical command to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16) if you meet in virtual space? Sitting close to fellow students who carry viruses and other communicable illnesses is a necessary part of the educational process. If you work on your studies at home, you don’t build up the immune system. A germ-filled environment develops patience, longsuffering, and love for fellow students. Putting aside Lev. 15:5, 7, 11, and 13, sharing germs is one of the highest forms of fellowship. Not only do you receive the blessing of colds, mono, influenza, intestinal disorders, conjunctivitis, and other “itis,” you also get to share these microorganisms with colleagues, family, and friends. Online schools are certified GF. We’re talking Germ Free, people. GF is more demonic than Gluten Free desserts.

There is no anonymity in an online theology school
The hallmark of theological training is hiding at the back of the class. And if you have divine favor, the professor won’t ask you a question about the reading assignment or ask for your opinion. Anonymity, for lack of a better word, is good. Anonymity is right, anonymity works. Anonymity clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of higher learning. Anonymity, in all its forms, anonymity in the classroom, in worship services, small groups, and in the community, has marked the upward surge of education. And anonymity, mark my words, will not only save theological education, but the malfunctioning institution called the Church. (Thanks to Gordon Gekko, in the movie “Wall Street,” for this inspirational thought.)

Education is to be a consumer event, a spectator sport. Students asking questions, sharing faith experiences with colleagues, and working in teams to solve real ministry challenges is unproductive and ineffective. Being able to study on your schedule and to interact with students every day of the week is postmodern. The brain was never wired for such hyperactivity and social engagement. Interactive learning is a new age philosophy that is destroying theological education and warping the minds of seminarians. There is nothing more spiritual than sleeping undisturbed through a 3-hour lecture and regurgitating the facts on a test.

In conclusion, commuting, immunity, and anonymity are three good reasons to keep away from an online theology school that allows you to develop your ministry skills without leaving your family and ministry field.

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.

By |2018-06-15T20:54:18-05:00June 15th, 2018|

Getting the Most out of Seminary While Saving Money

I worked four years in a church staff position during and after college, before deciding I needed to further my education by going to a seminary. These years were invaluable to my development because I experienced ministry and discovered what I needed to know before furthering in my studies. I wish all incoming students could have ministry experience before attending seminary.

Before I set foot on the campus, I wrote in my journal a list of things I wanted to learn while at seminary. I wish I had kept that list.  I don’t remember all the objectives, but one of them was, “Learn how to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers.” I experienced a great deal of frustration in my youth ministry with supervising volunteers much older than me. The volunteers were patient, but I needed help in this area if I were to be an effective minister.

During orientation and my first days at a seminary, I took my list of about 15 items and looked at the requirements for my program of study and determined which core courses matched the learning objectives on my list.  I then looked at the seminary catalog and the electives I could take and identified courses that would help me accomplish those objectives. For example, there was a course entitled, “Working with Volunteers,” which matched one of my learning objectives. I could then map out my curriculum for the next two years, maximizing my seminary experience.

Each term before registering for classes, I reviewed my list, checked off those that I accomplished, and identified courses that would meet the remaining objectives. In more than one occasion, I added new learning objectives to my growing list.

One of the assignments in the class on volunteers was to write a ten-page term paper. I wrote a 50-page paper on recruiting volunteers.  My friends teased me that I had gone overboard, but I told them I wasn’t trying to impress the professor. This paper was for me and I wanted to develop materials that I could take back home and use. Your seminary learning takes on another dimension when you have ownership in the product. Ask your professors if you can negotiate assignments to fulfill your learning objectives. Instead of a paper, maybe you could write a strategic plan, develop a website, or write a sermon series. Suggest projects that meet the course objectives, but also have immediate application in your ministry.

Not all of my learning objectives could be fulfilled through seminary courses.  This is where mentoring, internships, and field experiences can round out your seminary experience. Since I was in youth ministry, I looked for a church that was really doing a great job in discipling youth. One of my objectives was to learn how to educate youth about ethical issues, including sex education. I found a youth minister who was willing to mentor me and he had developed some materials on sex education in the church. Over the course of those two years and with the help of this mentor, I developed some discipleship materials that I used for years.

If your seminary doesn’t provide specific courses that will address your learning objectives, talk with an advisor and see if you can take courses at other institutions and transfer those credit hours to your program. You might find that you can save money by taking quality courses at seminaries that have lower tuition costs. Another way to attend a seminary and save money is to attend an online school. Find a fully online seminary that doesn’t require you to leave your ministry and work to acquire a degree. Online schools save moving expenses, tuition, travel expenses, and many incidental expenses.

What do you want to learn? What skills do you want to develop? What competencies will you need to develop in order to be an effective minister?   What attitudes do you need to change?  What spiritual disciplines will you need to develop? Write out a list of your learning objectives to guide your seminary studies. With this intentional learning plan, you will maximize your time at seminary and you’ll not have to write a book, “What I didn’t learn in seminary.”

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.

 

By |2018-06-08T19:21:19-05:00June 8th, 2018|