SWBTS: Master of Arts in Lay Ministry - Opinions?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Ed B, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. Ed B

    Ed B
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    Any opinions about this program of study at Southwestern? It is clearly aimed a lay-persons rather than vocational ministry which fits me, and since I work in Fort Worth it will be very convenient. But I recently turned 50 and I do not know the targeted students demographics for this program.

    http://www.swbts.edu/catalog/page.cfm?id=31&open=3_area

    My primary areas of interest as described in the degree plan's outline would fall under the Faith and Scripture and Faith and Heritage sections. I shouldn't discount the Faith and Ministry section but the content is not as clear to me.

    I would appreciate any comments or recommendations.

    All the best

    Ed B
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    While I was at SWBTS there were several lay ministries students I knew, particularly because I took at least one night class a semester.

    It seems the curriculum has changed a bit (which isn't surprising since its been a bit since I was at SBWTS) but it looks solid still.

    I'd highly recommend you to do the degree if you can. What you will benefit will aid the Kingdom of God in such amazing ways. The faculty at SWBTS is a good group of scholars and this will definitely be a great connection point for you. As I remember many of my professors were elated to find Lay Ministries students in their midst. :)
     
  3. Speedpass

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    I read the catalog, and it surprises me that SWBTS claims that anyone sensing a call to vocational ministry pursue an MDiv (or other graduate-level) degree. After all the SBC has no denominational-wide requirements for pastors. I'm just wondering how many small church/bivocational ministers enroll in this lay ministry degree.
     
  4. go2church

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    Lay ministry? Seems like a made up degree to me. How is lay ministry different from non-lay ministry?
     
  5. Ed B

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    Thanks for the responses

    Text can come off more confrontational that is intended many times so please don't take my response as anything other than talking through your comments.

    I don't know what you mean by a made up degree. I am not an SWBTS apologist but I don't see them as a diploma mill either. Fully accredited universities roll out new graduate degrees from time to time to fill new niches or needs in businesses and organizations. So I am happy to see seminaries offer degree opportunities for lay-persons who want to deepen their knowledge. I saw a new MS in Sustainment of all things being offered by UT-Arlington the other day. I was thinking of sustainment in the context of “Post-Delivery Sustainment” and “Logistics Management”. No, it wqas something along the line of finding ways for organizations to help sustain the earth’s resources while conducting business. I have no interest in it but it is accredited by AACSB. Is it a made up degree? Maybe so.


    How is lay ministry different from non-lay ministry? Well, one difference is a lay minister is not on the church payroll and is not called to the traditional Baptists vocational ministries such as Pastor, Associate Pastor, Music Ministers, etc. But we are all called to ministry are we not? I would hope that a degree aimed at Lay-Ministry (maybe a better labeled would be Lay-Studies?) would assist the students to better understand Scripture during the program and more importantly during self study after completing the program. Also, I hope they cover Christian history beyond the last couple of hundred years. Too many of my Baptists brethren seem unaware that anything significant happens between the time Peter established First Baptist Church on the day of Pentecost and when we begin to read about early American Baptist such as Roger Williams... and most don't know about any Baptist or quasi-Baptist leader older than Billy Graham. I also hope it will help us to be more effective in our various ministry opportunities through the local church and individually in our communities.

    And speaking for me, if I am going to take courses I would prefer to take accredited courses. And I don't want to be issued a Baptist coloring bookl, I want to be stretched a little.

    All the best

    Ed
     
    #5 Ed B, Aug 24, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2010
  6. preachinjesus

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    I'd agree that the above is way too confrontational for the context of the thread.

    A lay ministry degree is a non-ministry track set of classes for interested individuals who desire to gain more training in deeper theology. I recommend it to tons of people if they have access to a seminary. Who wouldn't want their parishioners to do this? Its a great idea. We can't do systematic theology I on Sundays or Wednesdays at church, but there are people who desire it. This is a truly terrific program.

    Also, we have forgotten that a historical part of Baptist ministry has been the lay component. In our rush to professionalize the ministry we have lost that key element of allowing our people to fill roles in volunteer, part-time, and non-vocational areas. Having seminary trained lay people makes our churches stronger and better equipped for ministry.

    I wish all of our (interested) people would do this kind of a degree. :thumbs:
     
  7. go2church

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    Confrontational, on the Baptist Board!?!?! That's never happened before. It's my opinion that one would be better served pursuing one of their theology degrees or a masters in religion if all you wanted was deeper understanding of theology. I'm sure someone would benefit from the course of study but if I was going to do all the work for a master's I would want it in something a bit more substantial.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    Did you look at the degree plan?
     
  9. StefanM

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    My thoughts:

    It's too long. We aren't training professional ministers here. I think a 30-36 hour masters would accomplish enough to meet a lay minister's purposes. They could even offer 12 hour concentrations to add on if a student wants to specialize. For just two more hours, one can get a Master of Arts in Theology.
     
  10. go2church

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    Why yes I did look at the degree plan, that is why I made the comment that I would want something more substantial. And did you notice what StefenM mentioned, for two more hours you could get a masters in theology.

    It's a degree that sounds impressive, which finishing a masters is on some level regardless of the degree, but really people would be much better served pursing one of the other degree programs.

    {inflammatory language snipped}
     
    #10 go2church, Aug 25, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2010
  11. Ed B

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    Hello StefanM

    I noticed the same thing about the Masters of Arts in Theology but the prerequisites are different and require that I take 24 of 30 prerequisite hours to qualify for admission. It looks very interesting but it will be a 74 hour degree plan for me assuming they accept my undergrad Survey of the Old and New Testament classes.

    Still, it looks interesting and I am in no rush. The prerequisites would be edifying and I don’t have to actually complete a degree to benefit from the coursework if I approach this with the right frame of mind.

    Thanks

    Ed
     
  12. Ed B

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    I appreciate the comments.

    Ed
     
  13. preachinjesus

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    Suggesting the MATh is just "2 more hours" away isn't awfully accurate. As Ed mentioned above there are HIGH prerequisites for the degree. Not only previous academic work, but also the requirement for proficiency in a biblical language. This requirement doesn't have the requisite courses listed in the degree.

    The Lay Studies degree is really designed just for someone like Ed and is a good degree. Its been around long before Dr. Patterson arrived at SWBTS and has seen many people go through it. While it isn't as deeply theological as an MATh, it does meet a need and will serve lay people well.

    That said, go2church I do agree with you about the strange degrees developed by Drs. Patterson since their arrival. The homemaking degree comment is a wonderful one that I might well use in the future. :)
     
  14. StefanM

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    Sorry for overlooking the prerequisites.

    I still think it is ridiculous to have half an MDiv as a lay ministry degree.
     
  15. preachinjesus

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    Okay so you want lay people who have no interest in vocational ministry to take pastoral theology classes, counseling classes, etc? Not being snarky just asking.

    This is a great degree for lay people who have an interest and are ideally located for education at a world class theological institute. Honestly when I look down my MDiv classes (in my head) I see about ten to twelve classes that no lay person would want to slug through in order to get a degree.

    Why require an interminable 90+ hours for a professional degree when they can get a great program that is both rewarding and stimulating for nearly a third of the hours?

    I really think its a great program. At the current church where I get to serve we have several people who are going through Liberty U's Home Bible Institute and using what they are learning as a part of our education ministry. Its a great thing and we have subsidized some of their tuition. They don't need the MA in Biblical Studies or anything like that, its too technical right now.

    One of the benefits of this Lay Ministries degree is it allows people who are going to take maybe one or two classes a semester the opportunity to work in their careers, live in their homes, and get this world class training over the course of five or six years. Most graduate programs require a more limited time scale. This is more about serving people who want to serve. I'm all for that.

    Again not being snarky, I rather like this conversation and think it going well. :)
     
  16. glfredrick

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    I think the key words are in the description where it says that the course is for persons not called by God into vocational ministry.

    I checked out the course contents. Seems like a solid program. Don't mistake the fact that the coursework is not for "seminary students" as being lightweight. I'd lay odds (if I were a betting Baptist) that the course work will mirror the "called" seminarian course work and will be equally a trial. Never mistake course titles for actual course work. My under grad and graduate degrees from Southern Seminary, sister to SWBTS, taught me that lesson well.

    What seems cut out from a normal M.Div. is the study of biblical languages and some deeper-level theological discourse. The balance is standard fare Master's degree work.

    If you have the time and the funds, and are inclined to study, I'd go for it. More study of God, theology, doctrine, and history can NEVER hurt (except the anti-intellectual crowd among us).
     
  17. StefanM

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    The problem is that the degree isn't a third of the hours; it's half of the hours of an MDiv.

    Additionally, I do think lay ministers would benefit from lay ministry-specific courses. I agree with you on the pastoral theology courses, etc.

    For instance, with theology....why do the traditional Systematic 1 and 2? I think a 3 or 4 hour theology survey course might be in order, although others may disagree.

    And, at the risk of denigrating missions....I think resources could be better placed than in Introduction to Missiology. Lay ministers are going to be working in their communities, not in foreign countries, with the exception of short-term trips. I think a lay-specific missions course would be helpful instead.

    I recognize that this could create course availability issues, so I can understand the current set-up.
     
  18. go2church

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    Here's my final word since my previous final words where deemed inflammatory:

    Just seems like they could do a better job with this degree. It is a lot of work to get a masters and this Lay Ministry Masters seems to be way more trouble then it is worth. Can't think of one thing I you could use it for.
     
  19. glfredrick

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    I'm not quite sure why you think that... The course work is solid, and at a Master's level, it would be quite adequate for the man who desires to be educated biblically, yet has no vocational calling to ministry. I wish I had 100laypersons in a church with that sort of background. We'd have teachers and evangelists a-plenty.
     
  20. TomVols

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    I wonder if, on some level, programs like this aren't an indictment at how poorly churches are training their members in theology, church history, English Bible, and ministry.
     

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