Thursday, September 4, 2008

Completed my first course at Rockbridge Seminary

I recently wrapped up my first online course at Rockbridge Seminary. How was it? In a word... awesome! This was their Touchstone course, called "Developing the Focused Life". While it sounds like a fluffy intro course, I found it to be extremely interesting and challenging. Through the course we took a close look at the concept of a calling, and how God beckons every one of us to a life of purpose and significance in Christ. We put together a timeline of our lives that explored what God has been doing to help us grow in Christ and prepare us for ministry.

A key expectation that was blown away was the idea that online education is like a correspondence course: you read the material, answer questions to be graded by a professor you don't know, with zero interaction with other students who happen to be taking the course. Instead, I found the course to be highly interactive - the sharing and discussion with other students was wonderful. We got to share ideas, fears, passions in a supportive environment, and found out that we weren't alone in what we were facing, or in how God was grabbing hold of our lives - and we made some good friends in the process. Ages ranged from about 22 to 62, including several executives, full-time and volunteer ministry leaders, men and women, and a fresh college graduate. In my many years of undergraduate and graduate study I've never had such beneficial and thought-provoking interactions with other students in a class than in this first online course.

One thing that makes Rockbridge unique is competency-guided learning, in which students develop a portfolio of church-based ministry projects in several areas that build up practical skills in ministry, worship, discipleship, evangelism, and fellowship. I'm pursuing a Masters' of Ministry Leadership degree, and can't wait to take more courses at Rockbridge. While it's not something I strongly considered until very recently, I would highly recommend anyone serious about their faith and ministry to consider seminary - it's not just for those headed into 'full-time ministry', but it is something that would be beneficial for any Christian who wants to be more grounded in their faith and who wants to see life transformation through their ministry.

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