Graduation Streamed Live, June 24, 7:00  p.m. P.T. 

We are excited about celebrating the accomplishments of this year’s graduates at Saddleback Church, June 24 at 7:00 p.m. P.T.  The service will be streamed live at this link 

We congratulate the following students who completed their studies.

Diploma in Ministry Studies

Randall J. Bartlein

Christopher D. Brown

Donna J. Finley

Joshua Phillip Stolarz

Master of Ministry Leadership

Roger Abergel
B.T., Vision International University

Gerald John Brandon
B.A., American Military University
M.S.O.S.H, Columbia Southern University

Michael Davis
B.S. Phillips University

Janelle Sue Grose
B.S.B.M., University of Phoenix

Jay Tyler Harmon
B.A. Missouri State University

Frank Duane McGary
B.S. California University of Pennsylvania
Mitchell Allen Moody
B.A., Flagler College

Caleb James Poush
B.A.C.S., Grand Canyon University

Wavey Brian Williams
North Carolina
B.S., Winston Salem State University

Master of Divinity

Russell Wayne Brandon
B.S., Oklahoma State University

Philip John Chenery
B.S., Newcastle University

Robert E. Cochran
B.A., Walsh University

Nicholas Randall Dertinger
B.A., Moody Bible Institute

Kent D. Hall
B.S., Ohio University

James Scott Herndon
B.S., University of Houston

Jason Hughes
B.A., The University of Arizona
Adam Lee Meyer
B.S., Illinois State University

Brett Dwain Mosser
B.A., Howard Payne University

Troy Joseph Thomas
B.A., University of Northern Iowa

Matthew Wayne Whistler
B.S., Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary

Doctor of Ministry

Keith Sterling Bagley
New Hampshire
B.S., Cornell University
M.Div., Rockbridge Seminary
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Lowell
Applied Research Project: “Digitally Augmented Discipleship: Enhancing the Discipleship Experience Through the Judicious Use of Technology.”

Kyle Craig Bueermann
New Mexico
B.A., Wayland Baptist University
M.Div., Rockbridge Seminary
Applied Research Project: “Discipleship in Acts 2:42-47.”
Jeremy Ryan Butler
New Mexico
B.S., West Texas A&M University
M.Div., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Applied Research Project: “The Biblical, Historical, and Practical Implications of Plural Eldership Within Congregational Polity Within Southern Baptist Congregations.”
Randall K. Grimes
B.A., California Baptist University
M.Div., Rockbridge Seminary
Applied Research Project: “Spiritual Transformation: Understanding the Journey of Becoming Just Like Jesus.”

Gregory Patrick Trawick
North Carolina
B.S., University of Mobile
M.Div., Rockbridge Seminary
Applied Research Project: “Launching a Campus for a Multisite Church.”

Not the Final Verse

You may remember the 1969 song “Is that All there Is?” sung by Peggy Lee. The chorus read,

Is that all there is?  Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is . . .

Besides wanting to slit your wrist after listening to it, the song begged an existential question that is answered by the resurrection of Jesus. On Friday, as Jesus hung on the cross, life for the disciples couldn’t have looked worse.  Their mentor and friend was tortured and killed. They were on the run, fearing their own death. On Friday, they didn’t know that on Sunday they would be singing different lyrics. Friday wasn’t the final verse of the marvelous song.

Paul wrote, “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” (1 Cor. 5:19, NLT)  This faithful follower of Jesus who was persecuted for his faith concluded, “If that is all there is, we might as eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Cor. 5:32b)

You’ve probably heard the story about a family handing out spoons at the funeral of a loved one. This deceased loved dessert, particularly Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.  As was the tradition in their family, dessert came at the end of the meal. The life celebration concluded with this encouragement, “The best is yet to come.”  Easter reminds us that death is the beginning to a new verse.

As you celebrate Easter, may you experience the presence of Christ and the hope of the Resurrection.


Neuroscience and Discipleship

Consider these statistics:

  • There are 100 billion neurons in the brain. The average neuron makes a thousand synaptic connections, and some neurons can make a hundred times that number.
  • The typical brain is about 2% of a body’s weight, but uses 20% of its total energy and oxygen intake.
  • Babies lose half their neurons at birth. It is estimated that a baby loses about half their neurons before they are born. This process is sometimes referred to as pruning and may eliminate neurons that do not receive sufficient input from other neurons.
  • The brain never stops working. But it does cease talking to itself when you lose consciousness.
  • Once we learn a smell, it always smells the same to us—despite the fact that there are always new neurons smelling it!
  • Reading aloud to children helps stimulate brain development, yet only 50% of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by their parents.
  • Our working memory, a very short-term form of memory which stores ideas just long enough for us to understand them, can hold on average a maximum of seven digits.

These are just a few of the findings we explore in the doctoral seminar, Transformational Discipleship. The brain is an amazing organ. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139:14)

Scholars once thought the brain could not repair itself, but neuroscientists are discovering the brain has a degree of plasticity; it is flexible and adaptable. Some functions attributed to the right side of the brain can be accomplished through the left side of the brain. Old dogs can learn new tricks. We can rewire, reprogram our mind as Paul wrote, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Recent discoveries in brain science is shedding new light on how we learn and how we can improve our teaching strategies, including discipleship. Technology is rewiring the brain, affecting how we process information. Technology has positive effects and negative effects. On the positive, technology provides quick feedback. Information is quickly and widely disseminated. Technology can also have negative effects such as diminished attention span, addiction, lack of focused attention, and impact of social skills. As one author put it, people find themselves plunged into an ecosystem of interruption technologies. This environment promotes hasty reading, hurried or distracted thinking, and superficial learning.

Brain research is validating some of the teaching principles we use today. So, it doesn’t mean we are casting off all of our teaching practices. Other practices and structures are being questioned as we discover more about how we learn. For example, we are learning that the brain has rhythms or time structures of peak performance. The brain needs activity and rest. We need brain breaks. We learn more efficiently at different times of the day. The implication of these findings is to limit cognitive activities for children to periods of 5-10 minutes, and 25 minutes for adults.

Technology and brain science brings unique opportunities and challenges to discipleship. In 1982, John Naisbitt coined the phrase, “high tech high touch.” Technology can be a valuable tool in communication and information gathering. However, disciplers must not neglect the relational component to discipleship. Disciplers can help their mentees think critically about the information received. Spiritual formation will need to provide Sabbath from technology, so people can learn to listen to the quiet small voice of God. Contemplative practices, once thought ancient, should be revived in this age of hurry and frequent interruptions. Discipleship will be experiential, participatory, interactive, and relational. It will break concepts into smaller chunks using auditory, visual, kinesthetic mediums.

The mind is too wonderful a thing to waste. At Rockbridge we want to make the most of every opportunity to learn and be transformed into the likeness of Christ.  Come study with us.


Want Seminary, but No College?  No problem!

Jeremy never expected to be a ministry leader. He left college to begin a business.  Life happened.  Years later he’s serving in the church and wants to deepen his understanding of the Bible and develop his ministry skills. He doesn’t want to go back to college and study algebra, English, or world history, but he’d like to go to seminary. Is there a program that could help him accomplish his learning goals?

Rockbridge Seminary’s Diploma in Ministry Studies (DMS)is a certificate program designed for men and women over the age of 25 who are serving on a church staff or in other ministry positions. This completely online-program provides an opportunity for students, not seeking a degree, to develop servant leadership skills for ministry, as well as competencies in Bible and church history. Ministry classes may be completed in two years, although students may take longer due to family, church, and job responsibilities. The program is only available for those who do not possess a bachelor’s degree.

Many prospective students ask about the return on investment. “Is the time, money, and effort of seminary worth it?”  Our graduates share how the Diploma in Ministry Studies is life changing.

“Rockbridge Seminary was a Godsend to me. I felt the call to go to seminary, but didn’t have a bachelor’s degree normally needed to go to seminary. God opened the doors and I found Rockbridge! I loved the ease of taking a class, learning, and the relationships I made with professors and classmates. I completed my DMS degree and continue to earn my Bachelor’s degree. God willing, I plan to go back to Rockbridge to receive my Master’s. Rockbridge is amazing and I truly recommend the DMS program to those called to ministry, but do not have the education for a higher degree.” Dennise Naredo, Business Owner and Ministry Leader

“Rockbridge Seminary provided me with an opportunity to advance my education while still working in full-time ministry. Being able to continue learning and growing, while having the flexibility to maintain my fulltime responsibilities, allowed me to fulfill my roles as a husband, father, and pastor while being a student at the same time. Rockbridge allowed me to acquire the skills and tools I needed to grow in a format that fit my already full life.”  Brandon Hair, Development Pastor, Front Range Christian Church

“The Diploma in Ministry Studies taught me why the church does what it does to grow and to welcome unbelievers to become believers and encourage their growth. The mentoring made me seek out mentors related to each course and brought me out of my shell and helped me grow personally and gave me confidence to become more involved in ministry.” Pam Reimer, Executive Assistant, Saddleback Church

“What I enjoyed most about my Rockbridge experience was that it was primarily hands-on learning. It wasn’t just theoretical and academic material. It took important information and principles and fleshed out what they meant for my ministry, then helped me know how I can apply and relate them to my local church.”  Ronnie McDougal, Executive Pastor, North Pointe Community Church

“The experience of completing the Diploma in Ministry Studies changed my life by putting me in God’s will instead of planning my life my way. I thought I was doing this program to help me be a better leader of my current ministry, but God was preparing me to be the Sr. Pastor of our small church. I realize that was God’s plan all along.”  Herk Rolff, Senior Pastor, The Little Church in the Pines

The Diploma in Ministry Studies may be the solution you are looking for, or you may know of someone who could benefit from this program.  For more information, contact