Our program is a combination of online classes supported by the online learning cohort, regular face-to-face classes, intensive classes which are packed into a week, and ministry apprenticeships and projects. There is some discussion of these on the Experience page. You receive credit for completion of all of these elements of the program. The mentoring aspects of the program are included in the requirements for the ministry apprenticeships.
Our teaching structure is similar to an old-fashioned schooling experience like Oxford University or a top private school. You will have some relationships with teachers where you are one in a crowd, like in a lecture, and are being exposed to new ideas and absorbing information. You also have some learning in medium sized seminar level groups where you can discuss ideas more intimately, have your ideas heard in more detail. These are teachers and students you will get to know better and who will know you. Then you have your stream leaders and ministry mentors: these are teachers that will know you at the level of an intimate tutorial group. They will know you better than some of your friends, and will give you the most detailed feedback you will receive. They are the sorts of people who may become lifelong mentors that you will reach out to for years to come.
Our classes are divided between regular classes and your online learning cohort. Regular classes are, well, just what you might expect! Sitting in a class with a teacher and other students, with homework, space to discuss and process, and reading and other work to support your learning. The online learning cohort is a weekly meeting where you can sit alongside your fellow students with a teacher and process what you have been exploring in the online-taught classes. Our online learning affords you a huge amount of flexibility in scheduling your learning, but we know that purely online interaction can leave you wishing you had space to ask questions, to be asked questions by a teacher, and to process with your peers. Our online learning cohort tries to get you the best of both for these parts of the program: flexibility and contact time with a teacher.
The program begins with learning how to unpack the Bible before exploring the background of the Bible and completing a survey of the Old and New Testaments. After the first year you move into a detailed study of the Old Testament and its theology throughout your second year. In your final two years you study the New Testament and its theology in depth. It takes longer to study the New Testament because you need more space for your growing apprenticeship and preparing for your senior project. This study of the Bible is the backbone of the program.
In the first half of the program you have a focus on leadership and personal formation alongside life-on-life mentoring. You also take a series of courses called ‘Foundations’ that explore history, culture and the big questions and issues facing us as humans and Jesus-followers. In the second half of the program you utilize this background knowledge to start to explore what it would look like to influence the world with the gospel and contribute to the Kingdom moving forward, culminating in the senior project. After your first ‘Foundation’ year, you also choose a stream, giving you three years of development in your area of specialization.
The last ingredient is General Education. You have 18 credits worth to take before you can be awarded your degree. We do not provide this, but you can tackle this inexpensively and at your own pace from a number of local and online providers. There are some more specific details of the program below.
The program aims to develop head, heart and hands. Upon graduation we want to be able to say that you know a ton about the Bible and theology, and have developed lots of experience and skills about making disciples and using your gifts for the Kingdom. We also want to be able to say that you have grown up and matured as a human and as a Jesus-follower. We expect our graduated to have processes some of the trauma, hurt, or junk they entered the program with, and to have developed their heart and character. For this reason progression in the program is not only dependent on passing classes. At the end of each year you will be interviewed by a panel representing your teachers, mentors and leaders. If you have not developed to a stage of readiness for the challenges of the next year, we will not put you in it - we want to set you up for success, not failure! If there was something to work on, we would make a plan with you to tackle it with you.
Our program is run in collaboration with our partners: Eternity Bible College. This is a great organization, founded by Francis Chan, with whom we share many values and aims. It is because of their commitment to Jesus, and to providing Bible-based education at a low cost, that we are able to do what we do - thank you guys! Our online classes are run by Eternity Bible College, and the other elements in our program are run in collaboration with them so that upon completion of the program they are able to to award an accredited degree in Biblical Studies. (If you are interested, they are accredited through the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation).