Our students learn theology in the context of serving and loving the local church. They minister formally and informally by teaching, leading, and edifying others. Active participation in real church life is built into their academic training.
To give a few examples: Pastoral students not only teach for credit in the preaching and teaching classes, they also teach the body of Christ from the pulpit, in small groups, and in other venues. This is required. They also participate in elder meetings, congregational meetings, staff meetings, planning/vision meetings, and counseling meetings. They create and organize formal programs. They pursue one-on-one evangelism and discipleship relationships. They learn how to interact with administrative staff. They learn how to lead and encourage ministries comprised of diversely skilled and motivated volunteers. Really, it’s a full-time internship that includes a robust biblical education.
We approach it this way because we believe the apprenticeship-discipleship model to be biblical and inherently effective for preparing leaders for the local church. You can study the handbook for a Boeing 747 and practice in the simulator, but nothing beats actually sitting in the cockpit. Our students take their theology out of the hangar on a regular basis under the supervision of well-seasoned pilots.
This “real world” design means that our lectures and discussions focus more on daily devotion to Christ than to abstract academia. We pursue sound scholarship and rigorous intellectual insight, but always for the sake of a transformed mind (Rom. 12:2) and a righteousness-pursuing life (Matt. 6:33). We strive to remember that knowledge may puff up, but love builds up (1 Cor. 8:1).