Launching a Multisite Campus

Multisite churches are becoming more and more common. No longer an experiment, multisite churches are a viable means for churches to expand their ministry.  Patrick Trawick’s DMin Applied Research Project identified the critical components for effectively launching a campus for a multisite church. Trawick identified the following steps to a multi-sight launch strategy:

  • The first step in launching a multisite campus is determining the need and location of a new campus.
  • Once the need and location of a new campus have been determined, attention must then turn to staffing for the new campus.
  • As the new campus is announced, an advertising campaign should be launched to let the community know about the upcoming launch.
  • Whether a new campus is permanent or portable, new equipment and/or renovations must be ordered and installed prior to the launch.
  • The central support staff of the church are a vital to the successful launch of a new campus.
  • Throughout the pre-launch process, the new campus staff must recruit, train, and motivate leaders to help with the launch.
  • A comprehensive timeline leading up to the launch should be developed and executed.

Trawick’s project also identified the successes and failures of multisite launches and provided rich insights for any church exploring expanding their ministry through multisite campus.  For more information about this applied research project or the DMin program contact Dr. Mark.Simpson@Rockbridge.edu.

 

Year End Finances – Thank You

Thank you to all that gave generously this past month and put us over the top of our budgetary requirements with over $118,000 in donations.  We are humbled by your support for our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry.

 

Registration for T5 is Now Open

It is not too late to enroll in fall classes.  Course offered this coming term include:

Diploma in Ministry Studies:

R1300 Developing the Focused Life (Touchstone)

D3351 Church History

W1301 Theology and Practice of Worship

R4300 Practicing the Focused Life (Capstone)

Masters Courses:

R5400 Developing the Focused Life (Touchstone)

D5451 New Testament Survey

E5403 Contemporary Evangelism

M5401 Theology & Practice of Ministry

M6405 Building an Effective Ministry Team

M6410 Pastoral Care

W5403 Preaching/Teaching for Life Change

R6400 Practicing the Focused Life (Capstone)

Contact admissions@rockbridge.edu for more information.

 

By |2019-08-09T16:33:23-05:00August 9th, 2019|

Spread the Word

Thank you for getting the word out about Rockbridge.  Most of our students come to Rockbridge as a result of a recommendation from a pastor or friend.  Ninety-eight percent of our students recommend Rockbridge to their friends.  The percent of students satisfied with their courses of student is 97+%.   We’ve got raving fans!   There are several ways you can help us get the word out.

  • Share our website link on Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  https://www.rockbridge.edu/
  • Put us on your Facebook or Website.
  • Pray about God to show you people who could benefit from Rockbridge and talk with them.
  • Share with us prospects through this link.
  • Become an official partnerof Rockbridge.
  • Here is a link to a printable brochure.

Thanks for helping us develop servant leaders for Christian ministry.

By |2019-04-05T16:35:38-05:00April 5th, 2019|

Online Learning–An Insider’s Perspective

By Ben Davis

I want to offer my two cents worth in the online vs. traditional classroom debate. I do this as both a student who has completed online and traditional degrees and as an instructor who has taught in both modalities.  Both approaches to education have their strengths and weaknesses, but right at the outset I want to confirm that I have found that online courses and degrees are fully equivalent to traditional classroom-based degrees in terms of content, depth of learning, and student outcomes.

My experience as a student with online learning is extensive – I have earned six accredited degrees from five different colleges.  I selected online learning because of its flexibility and because I could complete degrees that met my specific learning goals without uprooting my family and moving across the country to go to school.  I could also continue in my job, and on that latter account studying in online programs was a real advantage.

The coursework and learning in online programs are certainly as rigorous as in the traditional classroom, so a student doesn’t have to feel that he or she would be unprepared to compete with those who studied in the traditional way.  As long as the institution has accreditation from one of the recognized national or regional accrediting bodies, you can be assured that the school meets the same standards as other accredited schools.  And, because some people have concern about online programs, these programs tend to get an extremely thorough assessment during both the accreditation and reaccreditation process.

As a “mature” student, chronologically, if not in other ways, I found online programs to be extremely beneficial.  First, my work experience gave me a good background to bring into the courses.  I certainly was not at a disadvantage with regard to my fellow students.

Second, I found that what I learned in my courses could often be applied immediately to what I was doing at work.  Actually, I looked for ways to make this happen.  What is learned in the classroom can be taken right into your job and applied to problems or situations you are dealing with at the time.

Third, and perhaps even more importantly, I found that what I was doing on my job could be taken into the classroom. Things I needed to understand more about at work or problems I was dealing with there became topics for a number of papers that I wrote and were brought up in the discussions.  This latter allowed other students and even faculty members to comment on my topic and make helpful suggestions for me to think about.

Speaking of faculty-student and student-student contact, one major surprise for me with online education was discovering that I actually had morecontact with my professors and other students in my online courses than I did in my on-ground courses. In an on-ground course, you go to a classroom, sit in a seat for an hour or two, and then leave, not to see the professor or other students until the next class session.  In an online course, you are in constant contact with your professors and other students.  Discussion forums are a major part of online programs, and these give you regular, on-going interaction with students and faculty members as well.  I am always amazed by how quickly these discussions move from being just academic to becoming personal and connective.  A number of times I have seen students who had been in previous courses together pick up with each other where they left off some months earlier (e.g., “How’s you mom doing?  Is she out of the hospital yet?”).  In addition, most online course formats provide a “discussion” box on the course website that allows unfettered discussion among students.  Here there is always a lively discussion among students here, and the discussions are completely uncensored by the faculty and administration.  You may even find a few people in your local area with whom you can connect for face-to-face interaction if you want.

What are the downsides to online programs? Only two, and the student is actually in control of both.

First, online programs require more personal discipline than do classroom-based programs.  While online courses are structured on a week-to-week basis, they tend to be fairly flexible within each week.  It is very different from having to appear in a face-to-face classroom two or three times each week.  As a result, it can be easy to let things slide if you are not careful.  On the other hand, if you areself-motivated, the program is ideal because you can structure your studying and coursework around your personal and professional schedules.  If you are not naturally compulsive-obsessive, it can be very helpful to set a weekly schedule for yourself and let a friend/boss/whomever serve as a point of accountability.

Second, despite what I said earlier, the direct student-to-student and student-to-professor contact can slide if you let it.  You really need to lean in and take advantage of the connectional opportunities that the online environment offers.  Instructors provide class discussion forums with specific questions or topics to be addressed each week, and these are included as part of the course grade, so you will always be interacting with other students throughout the course – how much is up to you.  Doing just the minimum will result in getting a lot less out of your courses than you otherwise would.

With regard to concern about the validity of online degrees, the online degree process is a fairly recent phenomenon and is becoming much more accepted as time passes.  With any change in academia, there are always those who drag their feet.  It wasn’t until the 1900s that engineering programs were felt to be academic enough to warrant a real degree, and those with a few years on them may remember the flap over Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and General Studies degree programs when they were first introduced.  Engineering and Black, Women’s  and General studies programs are now in existence at most major universities and are considered to be genuine.  In the same way, most of the major institutions now offer online programs (the figure is 98% of public universities), so the snobbery will eventually go away.

Bottom line?  I am sold on online leaning.  I have benefitted tremendously from my studies and I would encourage any skeptic to, in the words of the now-classic Alka Seltzer commercial, “Try it; you’ll like it.”

About the Writer:  Dr. Ben Davis has served as Vice President for Legal and Academic affairs at a university that offers both online and on-ground programs.  He holds multiple degrees including two accredited doctorates, one from an online and one from an on-ground institution.

 

 

By |2019-03-29T20:39:11-05:00March 29th, 2019|

WHY IS SEMINARY EDUCATION IMPORTANT?

By Dr. Dennis Williams

Once I heard a person say that “He didn’t need formal, seminary training to preach. He said that he just let the Holy Spirit lead him.”  Not to be sacrilegious, but I’ve heard some of these people preach and if I were the Holy Spirit, I would be ashamed!

Can people minister effectively without seminary training? Absolutely!  God uses people willing to serve Him, even when they have little or no formal biblical training. One must ask, however, how much more effective can a person be who has benefited from effective specialized training in ministry. This is what a good seminary education can do.

The significance of education and training could be asked about any vocational field. Training can be experienced by someone telling and showing a person how to perform a certain, simple task or it can amount to years of study and application that will result in an academic degree.   The amount of training is dependent upon the task to be completed. Teaching a person how to turn on an electronic device such as a tablet or smart phone is relatively simple, while knowing all that can be accomplished on one of these devices takes a great deal more time.

It is important to consider what type of work or ministry one will do in the years ahead and then one can design a program of study or training in order to prepare for this vocation. This does not mean that once you have been granted a degree your learning experiences are over. To minister effectively today once must adopt the model of lifelong learning. Often in my classes I would remind the students that they would be facing challenges and situations different from my church ministry experiences fifty years ago. Good training should allow people to adjust to the challenges of the day with new ministries and methods while at the same time holding unto the biblical foundations of the past.

What is seminary training? It is a program of study that includes Bible, theology, church history, philosophy, biblical languages, preaching, leadership, administration and other subjects that lead to a graduate degree. The degree is usually an MA or a M.Div. Historically these programs were resident with duration of two to three years. In the last 25 years more schools realized that many people in ministry who desired and needed seminary training could not leave their work and travel to a resident campus to secure their education. Schools developed extension centers away from the main campus, but this also required at least one year of residence on the main campus. Ten years ago Rockbridge Seminary began offering completely online seminary degree programs. Using this model, students did not have to quit their ministries to travel to a main campus to complete their degrees.

What makes seminary training unique? Usually a person has completed a college degree before entering seminary. Therefore students in seminary possess a degree of maturity and experience that contributes to the integration of learning on the graduate level. Students already serving in ministry, while taking seminary courses, are able to integrate their ministry experiences with what they are learning in the classes. Students also are able to interact with their professors and other students as they deal with issues in their ministries.

Seminary should not just be the learning of facts and information that can be duplicated through exams. Yes, facts and information are very important as we present the truths of the Gospel to people in need. It is important to be able to apply the facts and information to the hearts and lives of the people God has called us to serve.

Seminary education leads a person to develop a biblical philosophy of ministry. With the leadership of the Holy Spirit this will provide direction and motivation for a lifetime of fruitful service.

As the years go by God may lead His servants to different kinds of ministry. One may begin as a staff person in a church and later become a senior pastor. Others move into mission work or become administrators or teachers in Christian organizations or schools. There are many opportunities for service in God’s Kingdom. Whatever calling God may give, seminary education can provide the basic training.

Most denominations and mission agencies today require a seminary degree for appointment. They want their people to be well grounded in the Word of God and know how to proclaim it effectively.

Many people in our churches have advanced degrees and certainly those who minister to these people should be prepared on that level too.

The seminary experience provides opportunities for spiritual development.

Ministry training is the focus of seminary education and the classes taken focus on the application of the truths learned as they apply to the needs of people in the congregations.

God calls us into His ministry and He is the One who will empower us to accomplish His will. We in turn should get the best possible preparation to fulfill His purpose for our lives and seminary training is designed to make this possible.

About the Writer:

Dr. Dennis Williams has served as Dean, School of Leadership and Church Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Professor of Educational Ministries and Administration at Denver Seminary, and Executive Administrator for the North American Professors of Christian Education. Dr. Williams is a member of the Board of Trustees at Rockbridge Seminary.

By |2019-03-14T18:01:51-05:00March 14th, 2019|

What’s Right with the Church?

The Church gets a lot of criticism about what is wrong with it. And few if any would contend the Church hasn’t made mistakes or there isn’t room for improvement. The Church, however, is doing many good things and brings value to its members and communities. Here are five major things that are right with the church.

1. Community service. Churches help the poor and disenfranchised by providing meals, tangible goods, child care, lodging, counseling, courses, career services, and much more. One program that impacts families and the community is Celebrate Recovery, a program for persons and families with addictions.

2. Teach moral values. Churches teach values such as respect for human life, integrity, honesty, justice, compassion, and not stealing. These values are the fabric of a healthy community and country. Churches teach us how to get outside ourselves and how to love God and others.

3. Encourage the arts. Churches teach creative arts such as dance, music, and drama, and provide outlets for sacred creative expression through worship.  Many entertainers and artists learned their craft in the church.

4. Global involvement.  Thanks to affordable and accessible international air travel, church members are engaged with helping people around the world. Teams of volunteers build homes, churches, schools, and wells for clean water. They provide medical care and training in agricultural practices and health care. Churches have instituted programs like PEACE that address spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

5. Relationships. Churches bring people together who share similar values. They help one another better themselves, their families, and their world. Churches provide a sense of identity and belonging. Faith communities provide intimacy and emotional support through small group ministries. Churches provide opportunities for people to do life together. Many church members will remain in a church even when the church leaders or programs are less than ideal because of the deep bonds they have made with fellow church members. For people who have no relatives close to them the church may be their family.

If you analyze these five things, they represent the five purposes of the church in Acts 2:42.  Healthy churches benefit not only their members, but their communities.


Small Group Network

Rockbridge Seminary is partnering with The Small Group Network. The staff at SGN help facilitate the course, Building a Small Group Ministry. In this course, you will collaborate with small group leaders around the world. You will get to interact with the founder, Steve Gladen, the Global Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church since 1998. He oversees the strategic launch and development of over 7,000 adult small groups on multiple campuses. He has authored Small Groups With Purpose, which has been translated into twelve languages to date, Leading Small Groups With Purpose, and Planning Small Groups with Purpose. 

The Building a Small Group Ministry class will be offered in the 2019 fall term.

Seminary Memorabilia

Want Rockbridge memorabilia such as t-shirts, coffee cups, water bottles, and aprons? Click here.

 

 

By |2019-03-08T20:22:37-05:00March 8th, 2019|

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|

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|

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|