Church-based Theological Education in our Fellowship
Northwest Baptist Seminary
Serving our churches has been central to Northwest Baptist Seminary’s mission since our founding, so when the leadership of our local churches pointed out that our traditional seminary model was not consistently producing graduates who could effectively lead local churches, we knew we had to do something different. Together with the Fellowship Pacific Region, we decided to reverse-engineer theological education, thus creating the Immerse program. Beginning with the end in mind will almost always require a dramatic rethinking of any institutional structure, and that is certainly true of our Immerse program.
Rather than conferring a degree upon completion of the set amount of credits, Immerse students graduate with their fully accredited Masters of Divinity (MDiv) degree only when they have demonstrated mastery in 27 Ministry Leadership Outcomes crucial to being an effective leader in the church. Rather than having a group of instructors whom they may not know personally, Immerse students are coached through the program by three hands-on mentors: a ministry mentor (usually from their local church), an academic mentor representing the Seminary, and a network mentor representing the Fellowship. Rather than stepping out of the church for the duration of a degree, Immerse students work entirely within their chosen ministry context for the entire program. Together, these aspects of the program provide mentored mastery in context — ensuring that students grow exactly where they need to alongside quality, invested mentors, all while being involved in effective ministry.
Beyond the program itself, this model of theological education ensures that the training of leaders for the church is a true partnership between the seminary, the Fellowship, and local churches. We are so pleased to have been able to partner meaningfully in the development and launch of the Immerse program with the Fellowship Pacific Region and to start partnering with other Fellowship Regions across Canada and Fellowship International. Immerse is also broadening the exposure of our Seminary in the landscape of theological education as it is the first program to be based off of the Context Based Theological Education (CBTE) model.
Last year, we graduated our first student through the program, and this year we anticipate five more will graduate. Each of these early graduates have already found full-time roles in local Fellowship churches, showing that the program is succeeding producing high-quality graduates who are able to lead the church and ensuring that the future of Fellowship churches will be in good hands.
— Dr. Kent Anderson is President of Northwest Baptist College and Seminary in Langley, BC.
Since its inception, SEMBEQ has been given a mandate by the local churches of our association in order to be a resource for the training of its workers and thus provide for a succession of ministries. Our concern was always to offer real mentoring so that the student could be accompanied and grow as much in his capacities as in his skills. Integrating the Immersion program was quite natural because we had the same pedagogical philosophy. Nevertheless, this allowed us to propose to our churches a program in which the academic accompaniment would also be supervised by a mentor.
— François Turcotte serves as President of SEMBEQ in Montreal, QC.
Heritage College and Seminary
Training spiritual leaders for local churches—that’s a major way Heritage College and Seminary serves Fellowship churches. We not only train future leaders, we equip current ones. We offer specialized certificate programs in church revitalization, expository preaching and women in ministry. This fall we will launch the Graduate Certificate in Biblical Care and Counseling. Each certificate program is built around five courses that give practical training for pastors and other ministry leaders. Each of these courses can be rolled into a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) or Masters in Divinity (MDiv) degree. Learn more at discoverheritage.ca.
— Dr. Rick Reed serves as President of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, ON.