Friday, June 20, 2008

Going Back to School

“I’ve enrolled in seminary!“ - those are words I really never thought I would say, but it’s true.

I’m going to be pursuing a Master’s of Ministry Leadership from Rockbridge Seminary. Rockbridge is an online seminary that focuses on practical biblical education for those already actively involved in ministry or otherwise unable to ‘put life on hold’ and attend a traditional seminary. Rockbridge offers a Purpose-Driven curriculum balancing training in worship, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry – all with a focus on supporting the mission of the local church as it lives out the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

There are three tracks – M.Div., Master's of Ministry Leadership (MML) and a Diploma in Ministry studies. MML students are required to complete 12 courses to earn their degree over a two-year period. While they take courses, students also must conduct church-based projects that demonstrate their mastery of 35 ministry competencies. Participants must be serving in a ministry role (whether full/part-time, paid or volunteer), and have local mentors. Co-founder Sam Simmons states: “Our learning model uses the student’s local church ministry as the primary learning platform.”

Why seminary? Two main reasons – I love learning, and I love serving Christ and encouraging others to do the same. This seems to be a great opportunity to bring those two passions together. In addition, the verse II Tim 2:2 is something that's really been speaking to me.

Why Rockbridge? Well, I’ve taken a few post-graduate courses from seminaries before. Homiletics, N.T. Greek, Harmony of the Gospels (probably my favorite), N.T. Survey. While I enjoyed them, I struggled with how what I was learning was so unrelated to what I was doing. While debating whether Galatians was written to the people of North Galatia or South Galatia is a fascinating exercise, that’s really not helping me answer the question ‘How can I be a better Small Group Coach?’ or ‘How do we encourage people to step up in leadership within the church?’ Previous reviews of what seminaries had to offer had not changed this impression. Recently though, I learned about Rockbridge and its unique approach. Biblical? Definitely. Practical? Oh my, yes. Accessible? Yes, both on cost and on flexibility. Develop a Ministry portfolio as a required component? Hmm, that’s cool. Incorporate mentoring, and focus on building up the local church? Wow, that’s different! Appropriate degree? Ministry Leadership degree? I can’t imagine a better fit for what I’m looking to learn! Finding the extra time for this will of course be a challenge, but I’m thankful that the writer’s strike early this year has paved the way for extra time for study, and as a night owl, I’m glad to be putting those late hours to better use than vegetating :)

So I’m really excited about this next step for me as I try to better understand and live out God’s calling on my life. With the blessing of Pastor Chuck and Calvary, I’m definitely looking forward to applying what I learn, as an new 'intern' helping with Volunteer Ministries.

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