Equipping Lifelong Learners: What’s Trending in Seminary Education

Leaders, having received a theological master’s degree, often realize they were trained for a world that no longer exists.

How are seminaries preparing students for effective, transformative ministry in an ever-changing culture? In this series, we interviewed seminary leaders from across North America to get their first-hand take on what’s trending in seminary education.

Does your school offer lifelong learning programs for church leaders beyond standard degree programs?

KURT N. FREDRICKSON, Associate Dean, Fuller Theological Seminary: Often, ministry leaders, having received a theological master’s degree, realize that they were trained for a world that no longer exists. This makes ongoing theological education vital.

The Fuller D.Min. (doctor of ministry) is one way we provide lifelong learning. It seeks to equip ministry leaders with advanced skills in the art of ministry and gives these leaders a space to breathe, reaffirm their call and connect in new ways with the Lord.

We also offer an advanced diploma in ministry leadership, allowing ministry leaders to take a series of classes at a reduced rate. We have a range of master’s degrees of varying length that provide educational opportunities for church leaders and laypeople. Fuller is aggressively working to provide ongoing theological education that is accessible and affordable. We are developing a web-based platform to deliver content that is not degree based.

BOB WHITESEL, former professor at Wesley Seminary: A sizable number of Wesley’s students are laypeople. Today, it seems laity recognize that their volunteer positions can run more smoothly with additional education.

This is also fueling Wesley’s certificate program, where students can earn a certificate through just three or four courses. Laypeople who might not be sure if they want to pursue a seminary degree can take a few courses and reap the benefit of new ideas, plus get a certificate. While in these courses, laity often realize they have much in common with other seminarians, and many go on to pursue seminary degrees.

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SHAWN C. BRANCH, former National Director, Threshold School of Ministry: In addition to designing our program for both laypeople and those seeking vocational ministry, we aim to provide opportunities for ongoing studies. Public Saturday lectures are hosted throughout the year on topics that are relevant to the local church.

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