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.Rockbridge Seminary logo

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.

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.