By Jennifer Johnson
It’s common knowledge that the Internet has transformed traditional approaches to higher education. Although one out of every three academicians considers online learning to be inferior to face-to-face instruction (according to SEO.com), millions of undergrad and graduate students enroll in online classes each semester, and the National Center for Education reported recently that 22 percent of United States graduate students study exclusively online. Many schools have also realized class schedules and degree programs must become more flexible to attract growing numbers of nontraditional students.
These changes, along with the growing desire among growing churches to raise up leaders from within, mean our Bible colleges and seminaries must also change. But I’m not surprised to see our schools rising to the challenge. Two years ago I wrote an article for this magazine giving an overview of how our churches and colleges are working together, as well as sharing details of the programs they had created.
Hope International University had already launched its School of Advanced Leadership Training, or SALT, and North Boulevard’s School of Christian Thought is just one of several churches offering the program.
Milligan College worked with Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MD, to create a Semester in Ministry program that offers interns academic credit while working as part of the church staff.
Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria, AZ, partners with a number of schools as part of its Leadership Institute.
Impact Canada offers a comprehensive two-year program in Bible, theology, and practical ministry with classes recognized by Great Lakes Christian College.
And Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis hosts a fully accredited extension site of Cincinnati Christian University, offering a complete master of arts degree with classes one night a week on its campus—a program that allowed David Storvick to pursue his degree and prepare to lead the IndyCar Ministry (see related story).
From a visionary Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, TN, to a former engineer praying with a pit crew on a racetrack, both of this month’s stories intersect with the good work of our schools. I suspect hundreds of other stories of effective ministry involve one of our colleges and universities stretching to create new programs, offering classes at new places, or thinking about new approaches to education.
This type of collaboration is our movement at its best; online or on-site, we’re working together to create more opportunities for more leaders to grow in more ways.