A degree earned while gaining valuable practical experience is providing Briercrest College and Seminary students a unique opportunity.
The newly developed, two year, associate of arts experiential ministry degree offers students flexibility and a unique experience.
“The new program is flexible. It allows students to remain in the local church ministry and engage in post-secondary education,” George Boyd, seminary dean at Briercrest and faculty of Christian ministry, said.
“The integration of the academic with the practical makes it a unique experience. The experiential part can be tailored to the strengths or interest of the student.”
The program works in partnership with churches to provide students with the opportunity to develop and refine their talents within a certain ministry while still attaining the educational credentials they need.
“Students spend time working in a local church and through their choice of modular classes, online distance learning or independent study they work towards earning their degree” Boyd explained.
David Ernst, assistant professor of Christian ministry at Briercrest, said while the program is tailored to each student’s interest, there will be some core classes that all students must take.
“You can expect that you are going to be involved in studying the scriptures biblically and theologically. It is also expected that you are going to take some courses on the church and church ministry and how to deal with people,” Ernst explained.
“You are going to be involved being mentored both practically from the people on site, usually pastors, and academically from those of us on this end, who are giving them assignments to do and books to read just like any other course.”
Ernst said the program recognizes there are some individuals who either don’t want to, or can’t go the tradition route of a four-year, semester-by-semester, program before they enter into ministry.
“Sometimes it’s that situation where you have an individual who is really gifted and is amazing in ministry because they love and care about people, but struggles with the academic aspect of learning,” Ernst explained.
“This program is designed for individuals like that, or individuals who are in some kind of context or want to do on the job ministry and training and education at the same time. It allows someone, within a preapproved context, to be both learning on the job and taking classes, the majority of which relate back to what they are doing in their ministry context.”
While each internship is different, students are expected to work within one of three ministry areas- pastoral, youth or worship- or in a combination of all three.
The goal is that graduating students will find themselves well equipped for vocational ministry. If they choose to continue on in their education they can also enrol into any Bachelor of Arts program at Briercrest.