PINEVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Clear Creek Baptist Bible College is expanding with what school officials are calling a “groundbreaking” Master of Arts in ministry program beginning in the fall of 2020.
“It’s sort of a new approach,” explained Dr. Jay Sulfridge, the dean of academic affairs. “It’s not brand new to education in general but, in theological circles, it’s a little bit groundbreaking really.
The first Masters degree the school has offered will not be based on class time or course hours, he said. Ten competencies will make up the curriculum and when a student proves competent in all 10 areas, they will earn the degree.
Each student will have a mentor in the field – a pastor or ministry – and will be doing hands-on ministry. There will also be a faculty member with academic credentials, be based on students completing 10 competencies.
The program has been two years in the works, Sulfridge said, and has the stamp of approval from the college’s accrediting agencies – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) - to begin promoting the program.
“President (Donnie) Fox and I went to Canada two years ago (to explore the potential of the program) and decided it fit Clear Creek very well,” he said.
The program is completely self-paced and it will have a rolling enrollment, meaning students can join at any point, he said.
“It’s up to them how long it takes,” Sulfridge said. “The anticipated average time is 18 months, about the equivalent of a 30-hour Master of Religion.”
They only recently gained permission from the accrediting agencies to promote the degree and Matthew Black, Clear Creek’s Dean of Institutional Advancement, was the first to introduce it at the Pike Association of Southern Baptists meeting on Monday night.
“Clear Creek’s new Masters in ministry degree will allow the student practical hands-on learning that the typical Masters program cannot offer,” Black said. “The groundbreaking degree will bring a Masters degree in theological education to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.”
Clear Creek hopes to begin accepting students for the program in January with the launch set for fall 2020.
Sulfridge said an in-house committee surveyed faculty, church leaders and alumni helped determine the 10 competencies that students must prove themselves worthy to earn the degree.
Since they now offer a Masters they have moved from a level 2 to level 3 school.
Sulfridge said the college had a variety of ministries that they combined a few years ago for a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry. “This builds on that,” he said. “Now we have a Master of Arts in Ministry. It’s more practical than academic. We are training people who are called of God to the ministry.”
He said offering the Masters would allow Clear Creek to provide ministers with better credentials for future work in a church or ministry field.
“We think it will breathe new life into our undergraduate work as well,” Sulfridge said. “We’re hearing from a lot of students now.”
MASTER OF ARTS IN MINISTRY
Students will demonstrate competence at the graduate level in the following areas:
Biblical Exposition: Understanding and applying proper biblical hermeneutics.
Preaching/Teaching: Developing and effectively delivering Bible-based sermons and/or lessons.
Pastoral Counseling: Providing Bible-based pastoral counseling.
Worship Leadership: Effective facilitation of worship.
Church Administration: Administrative leadership of the church including the ordinances and business affairs of the church.
Christian Theological Heritage: Understanding and interpreting Christian theological heritage and Baptist policy.
Disciple Making and Servant Leadership: Stimulating church health through mobilization of the church for missions, evangelism, discipleship and church growth. This competency includes proficiency in team building.
Interpersonal Skills: Performance of pastoral care including communication and conflict management.
Critical Thinking: Observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem-solving and decision-making.
Spiritual and Character Formation: Providing moral leadership by modeling and mentoring Christian character and devotion.