seminary

3 Questions with Dr. Daryl Eldridge

I'm excited to share with you this conversation with a ministry hero of mine, Dr. Daryl Eldridge.  Dr. Eldridge is one of the founders and the President of my seminary, Rockridge.  Rockbridge is a 100% online seminary that is creating an affordable and flexible yet highly effective seminary training for ministry leaders without having to leave ministry to attend.  

Where did you get the idea for Rockbridge Seminary to be 100% online?

In 2003, the founders of Rockbridge were serving in residential seminaries. Wherever we traveled, prospective students asked us if they could do their studies without going to our campus.  For prospective students already engaged in a ministry, uprooting their family was just not an option.  At that time, schools could only allow 1 year of studies online, which meant students still had to travel to a residential campus. So we asked how we could put a seminary 100% online and design it around the purposes of the church. A friend pushed us over the tipping point by asking, “If you don’t do this, who will?”

What has been what you expected since the launch of Rockbridge and what has been completely unexpected? 

We expected to deliver an online educational experience that was comparable, if not better in some ways, to a residential seminary.  There were several things we didn’t expect.  First, we thought we might have trouble attracting qualified faculty members that would embrace online learning.  We discovered there were more than enough qualified teachers/practitioners who wanted to invest their lives in training a generation of servant leaders.

Second, while we knew that meaningful relationships could be developed online we were surprised the online learning environment provided better opportunities for long lasting friendships with students and faculty.  

Third, critics said you couldn’t effectively teach content areas like preaching, languages, or spiritual formation through online environments.  We’ve discovered you can accomplish learning objectives for a given subject if you think creatively about how to design the learning experience in an online medium.

What do you see ahead for seminary training as a whole as well Rockbridge seminary specifically?

The number and variety of options for seminary training will continue to explode.  As technology improves, we’ll see more interactive learning environments such as gaming, Second-Life, and hologram conversations.  We will also see more churches custom tailor their own brand of seminary for staff and church leaders. 

Content will not be the driving force for seminary education as it has been in the past.  In milliseconds a person can Google search a topic and find more information about a subject than they could 15 years ago in the most comprehensive seminary library.  Social conversations will be the hub of learning management software.  Seminaries must provide sacred learning environments where students can learn to interpret biblical truth, understand the culture, and effectively lead a church or ministry organization to reach that culture.  

Our vision at Rockbridge is to provide accessible, affordable, and practical ministry training to this and the next generation of servant leaders.   These are exciting days to be in ministry.


You can connect with Dr. Eldridge on Twitter - @drdaryl and find out more about Rockridge Seminary by visiting their website at http://Rockbridge.edu.  

If you are considering seminary at all I cannot recommend more that you highly consider Rockbridge Seminary.  If you have any questions please don't hesitant to leave a comment or send me a message.  

Congratulations Rockbridge Seminary

rockbridge (1) I have shared many times here that I love my seminary!  Not only do I love Rockbridge Seminary, but I'm extremely proud of my seminary as they have recently become officially accredited.  It was only a matter of time before this became official as it is overseen by an incredible team of leaders that continue to make this great seminary even better.

If you're considering a seminary education, I can't recommend Rockbridge enough.  I was in a great ministry role and didn't feel that I should leave to get trained to more effectively do what I was already doing.  I didn't have to.  Rockbridge came right alongside me right where I was and invested in me as a ministry leader.

For those who say it's just not personal enough, you really need to experience it.  Online education isn't for everyone, but it is for more than you think.  I grew closer to my online classmates who were all over the world than I ever did with the ones who sat next to me in my undergraduate program.  Give it a try and I think you will like what you experience!

Congrats Rockbridge Seminary and Rock'rs everywhere!

3 Questions with Greg Smith

Dad I'm excited for you all to hear from one of the greatest men I know, my Dad!  He's an incredible leader, husband, dad, pastor, musician, and the list could go on.  He had a very successful career in the moving industry and is now pursuing a second career in ministry.  He's currently serving as Associate Pastor at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Houston, TX.  It's been fun to share our experiences with each other and now I'm excited for him to share with you.  Here are my 3 questions with Greg Smith:

Having spent the majority of your adult life in the marketplace, how do you feel like that experience helped prepare you for ministry and what can other ministry leaders learn from marketplace leaders?

I believe we are all called to ministry from the time we come to realize for ourselves that Christ desires a relationship with us and we respond to that offer of salvation. I began my ministry in the marketplace where I interacted with believers and non-believers. It was here that I honed my communication skills for not only speaking/proclaiming the Good News. I also learned to "listen" to a hurting people who were/are separated from the knowledge/realization God's grace, love and forgiveness. I am reminded in this context of the Apostle Paul addressing the people in Athens at the Areopagus (Mars Hill) when he said "Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it -- 'To an Unknown God.' You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is, and now I wish to tell you about him."  (Acts 17:22-23 NLT). The other lesson I learned while in the marketplace is how easy it is to compartmentalize our lives as to our jobs, family, church, and our personal faith. I found that a career is based on "running the race" a means to an end (retirement, wealth, comfortable lifestyle). A vocation is something we all realize or should realize and implies something we are specifically called to do. I lived the first fifty years in my life pursuing a career and the subsequent years fulfilling my calling which had actually begun years earlier.

 

As you just finished up your coursework at SMU/Perkins School of Theology, how do you feel that experience has prepared you for ministry?

The interesting thing was that early on in my academic endeavors as I began pursuing my Masters of Divinity degree I discovered the difference between a seminary and a School of Theology. I had a professor who had his doctorate from Notre Dame School of Theology. He explained that Notre Dame also has a seminary where the train individuals to be priests. However, the School of Theology there at Notre Dame trains individuals to be theologians. How to know God in a spiritual sense, religious sense, personal sense, and academic sense. The requirement is not to write a thesis on specific biblical truth , but rather write a Credo that states specifically how you understand God and how you encounter God. The interesting thing to me is how many people (including seminarians) only encounter God in a limited sense ie. academically or intellectually. The one thing I would say about my experience at an advanced age is how little "push back" the average student presents to the professors while honing their understanding of God. Maybe because of my age, many of my professors appreciated the challenges presented in their teaching approach and my adopting a hermeneutic of suspicion when it comes to exegetical undertaking concerning the Good News of Jesus Christ.

  

The Methodist denomination is filled with a rich history dating back to John Wesley, what about the denomination's history and present direction gets you excited?

Two things stand out as important, yet often times misunderstood in my life as a Methodist. The first is supremacy of Holy Scripture when it comes to understanding the will of God in our lives. In our Methodist doctrine we additionally consider Experience, Traditions, and Reason as important. However, Scripture is the foundation for all our beliefs as followers of Jesus Christ. John Wesley was known as "The man of one book." The other misnomer is the idea of Social Justice. In many cases this term has come to mean simply Civil Rights and/or Human Rights. These are also important. However, I believe that the Methodist approach to Social Justice begins with Micah 6:8. "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (NRSV). I see this as the ultimate mission of the church.

I get excited about the church regardless of denominational affiliation that can get behind this idea of "doing justice" for those in need physically and spiritually in our community and our world. We then develop a love for kindness which is also the greatest commandment taught by Christ to those who would follow him. Then finally as we walk humbly with God we realize that we are blessed to be a blessing. By the power of the Holy Spirit, for the Glory of God, and for His Kingdom. Forever & Ever. Amen.

You can connect further with Greg on Twitter or on Facebook.

Here are some other posts in this series:

3 Questions with Becky Kiser

3 Questions with Peter McGowan

3 Questions with Tim Peters

Thank You Rockbridge Seminary

A couple of weeks ago I went up to Springfield, Missouri with Chris Tripputi to walk the stage after both completing our Masters in Ministry Leadership from Rockbridge Seminary.  It took us both about 3 years and it was an incredible journey!

I really can't recommend Rockbridge enough as it gave me the opportunity to attend seminary and apply the things that I learned immediately as I never had to leave my ministry position to attend seminary.  The classes were incredible, professors were fantastic, and the interaction with my classmates was amazing!  It was actually through my experience at Rockbridge that I began to dream about online ministry.  I found that through my interactions in my online courses I was growing incredibly through the program but I was also connecting with my classmates and professors much deeper than I ever had in an in person learning environment.  It is something I really cannot describe well enough and something you must experience to understand.

If you have every considered going to seminary, I hope you will give Rockbridge a try.  I have heard so many friends in ministry tell me that they earned a piece of paper from seminary and that they were challenged intellectually but not prepared to be a ministry leader.  That is sad to hear and I cannot imagine that you will ever hear that from a Rockbridge graduate.  If you have any questions about Rockbridge, please don't hesitate to ask!

Many friends and family members have asked "what's next?"  Many people get an education to prepare them for their dream job.  Since I already have my dream job, my plan is to continue to apply what I have learned at Rockbridge to the Online and Young Adult Ministries at Community Bible Church.  With my extra time I'm excited to be a little (okay a lot) more focused at home as a husband and father.  I'm a learner by nature though and I don't think my formal education will stop here.  I would love any recommendations that anyone might have!  Maybe an MBA or a DMin in the future?