By Dr. Myles Werntz, Director, Baptist Studies Center
For students considering a graduate level theology degree, there are many considerations: cost, accessibility, and university reputation – to name a few. The Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University offers all of this: excellent scholarships, online and residential degrees for students at the master’s and doctoral levels, at a world-class institution.
As a recent addition to the Graduate School of Theology faculty, let me say why I believe a theology degree from ACU is not only worth your time, but best prepares you for a life of ministry.
1) Learning with the Breadth of the Church
One of the downsides to theology programs at other faith-based universities or seminaries is their insular focus, appealing to one small segment of the universal church. At ACU, students benefit from learning alongside future ministers in numerous faith traditions including Church of Christ, Baptist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian, among others. In a cohort of aspiring ministers from various backgrounds, students get practical experience in cooperating and collaborating with leaders both inside and outside their own tradition. The benefit is that not only do you gain depth in your own tradition, but an appreciation of all of the faith traditions from the wider body of Christ. This same ethos permeates the coursework. Our faculty are committed to students learning from the breadth of the church’s wisdom across time and engaging in critical discussions about how the wisdom of the past informs the ministry and worship of the present.
2) Learning with Faithful, World-Class Scholars
You shouldn’t have to choose between academic excellence and accessibility, nor should you have to choose between faculty who love God with their minds and those who love God with their worship. Whether doing your degree residentially or online, your classes are taught by world-class experts in their fields including New Testament, Old Testament, Church History, Christian Ethics (my own specialty), Christian Theology, and Preaching. You will be taught by recognized thought leaders in their field who are practitioners committed to the health and life of today’s churches. If you are pursuing your degree online, your classes are taught by the same credentialed faculty as our residential students, offering you the opportunity to stay in your place of ministry while receiving second to none preparation for future ministry endeavors.
3) Learning for the Mind and the Heart
Throughout your program, you will be engaged in ministry opportunities, field education, and spiritual formation. Through retreats, weekly chapel, and mentoring groups, our faculty worship and learn alongside students with the common goal of growing together in Christ. We believe that a theological education without an individual commitment to fostering your own love of God in mind, body, and soul is not worth your time. As such, students meet regularly with faculty to discuss ongoing issues in their spiritual lives and ministry contexts which helps students flourish during their time of ministry preparation.
4) Learning for the Church’s Present and Future
It is an incredibly complicated time to enter the ministry field. In recent years, churches and ministers have been under tremendous strain financially and pastorally. In essence, your preparation for ministry should not only give you faithful training in the core skills of vocational ministry, but also instill critical thinking skills to face the church’s uncertain future. Whether learning from the early church about prayer or with contemporary theologians about reading Scripture amidst the complexities of modern moral questions, you will be given the opportunity to bring together time-tested practical skills, the beauty of the Scriptures, and earned wisdom to address the new challenges facing churches in the 21st century.
As the director of the newly founded Baptist Studies Center, created to offer Baptist students and churches the resources they need to prepare for ministry, I’m excited about what the future of ministry preparation and theological education looks like at ACU. It’s one characterized by learning with and from the diversity of the church’s traditions, alongside accomplished scholars who are committed to a life of the mind and a life of ministry.
As ACU faculty, we are committed to teaching our discipline and helping shape our students personally. The need has never been greater for excellently trained ministers who are willing to follow Christ into a world which is in dire need of reconciliation and healing. I hope you’ll join us.
For more information about the Baptist Studies Center, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit our website to learn more about online and residential graduate theology degree programs.