Monday, June 9, 2008

Turning Churches into Seminaries

Confronting the Tyranny of Distance
The distance education method of theological education is one way to break down the walls of geography and distance. Some seminaries are discovering that this approach enables the recruiting of students who may live thousands of miles away and in different countries. It also helps people who live in close proximity but are prevented by their work or other factors to attend classes.

Some of the challenges that this method faces include how seminaries develop relationships online, how students learn to research when they do not have adequate access to books and journals and how to enjoy the gift of learning from others.

Seminary Extensions
The Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary has shown itself to be very innovative. Joyce Abugan, Principal of the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary (PBTS), shares a way they are seeking to link with the training of leaders in and through the local church. Joyce says:

I ask local pastors who would like to train key leaders to avail themselves of the extension approach to do this through their local church.

Some of the Benefits:
* It is economical since you don't have to rent a facility
* The church receives direct visible results when leaders are trained
* It has a flexible schedule since leaders can agree on a common time
* It saves travel time because most of the students are already located in the area.

At a time when it is easy to define seminary training as what happens on the campus, this is an example of taking teaching around the country and inviting churches to become a seminary. It has great potential in recruiting new students and in winning the support of pastors and churches for other activities of the seminary.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “break down the walls of geography and distance.” The fall of the Berlin wall.