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Changes in church ministry track respond to needs of local churches
April 17, 2006
By Garrett E. Wishall

Higher education in and of itself can be a positive experience for developing one's mind and breadth of knowledge. However, when higher education is able to address practical life issues it becomes even more beneficial.

Seeking to respond to such practical needs of local churches, Boyce College is adding several new degree programs beginning in the fall 2006 semester.

Jimmy Scroggins, dean of Boyce, explained this motivation.

"We are accountable to the churches, and we want to be responsible to their needs," he said. "We are also accountable to God to shepherd these people and respond to the needs of the culture in which we operate."

The Bachelor of Science in Church Ministry major is being divided into three specific fields: children's ministry, Christian leadership and women's studies. Scroggins said the programs are being developed in response to specific feedback from local churches.

"We think that this will make us more responsive to the needs of Southern Baptist churches," he said. "And we think that these are three different areas where we can help our students be faithful to the Scriptures in culturally-appropriate ways."

Current students with a Christian education major will be able to continue in the present track or switch to one of the three specialized tracks in the fall.

Children's ministry track

Scroggins said children's ministry is more important now than ever before because of the demands of the culture on children.

"Our culture is pushing our kids to grow up faster and giving them more technology," he said. "This serves to harden them to the Gospel, and we need to be proactive about sharing the Gospel with them. There is also a cry in our culture for strong families. We want to reach the parents of families and practically speaking one way to reach out to parents is to reach out to their kids."

Gary Almon, acting department coordinator for Christian education and assistant professor of Christian education at Boyce, said that in his experience children's ministers usually learn only through on-the-job trial and error situations.

"I served for 12 years as a youth/children's minister and I never met an academically-trained children's minister," he said. "They had just picked up information on their own."

Christian leadership track

Almon helped create the children's ministry and Christian leadership tracks, and said that the goal of the two tracks is to be more specialized to meet specific needs of local congregations.

"We want to pinpoint specific areas for specialized training," he said. "We want to develop associate pastors to take on the various disciplines within the local church, such as youth ministry, children's ministry and finances. We want to train people in all these practical things that most people don't get trained in."

The Christian leadership track is geared specifically toward preparing men to be associate pastors, Almon said.

"It is the degree for developing associate pastors to help them identify leadership, train leadership and run the administrative side of things in the church," he said.

"We look at the pastor as being most concerned about the pulpit ministry and the associate pastor doing the peripheral ministries that free up the pastor to focus on the pulpit ministry."

Women's studies track

Kristin Yeldell, associate director of student life at Boyce, will play a large role in the new women's studies program, Scroggins said.

"Her interest in the area of women's studies and her practical experience and her desire to share that study and experience with others makes this a perfect time to launch this program," he said.

Female students at Boyce will be able to get a minor in women's studies. New classes will include home ministry and management, women's ministry methods in the local church and communication skills for women in leadership. Changes will be made to two classes currently offered, the role of women in ministry and the practice of ministry for women in leadership, to round out the minor.

Yeldell will teach all of the courses and said she also hopes to expose students to women in the community currently serving in ministry. She emphasized that the women's studies track is open to any female student at Boyce who feels called to ministry.

"No matter what specific area a woman feels called to, this program will help her establish a biblical framework for serving in ministry as a woman in a way that glorifies God and advances the kingdom," she said.

Yeldell said the program is aimed at helping women hold to the truth of Scripture and stand for the truth of the Gospel in the midst of a worldly culture.

"So many voices are coming at our young women, telling them what it means to be a woman, how to live, etc.," she said. "We know that the only voice worth listening to is that of the Lord Jesus Christ, heard through the pages of Scripture.

"Our women at Boyce will learn what it means to live in such a way that the Gospel is not only heard but seen in the way that they live their lives."

In the next issue of Towers, the expansion of the biblical and theological studies field at Boyce will be explored, including a feature on new Boyce faculty member Brian Payne, instructor of expository preaching and pastoral leadership.

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