Grace Theological Seminary is now accepting applications for Deploy – the first competency-based seminary program in the country accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and granted five-year experimental status by the Association of Theological Schools. The new, modern seminary program at Grace uses a competency-based theological education (CBTE) model delivered online and onsite within a ministry context at local churches.
“Deploy is the result of several years of research and planning to create a relevant seminary model that is attractive and attainable to those in ministry who desire more training as well as those who wish to start a career in professional ministry,” said Dr. Bill Katip, president of Grace College and Theological Seminary. “We call it ‘seminary at the speed of life’ – Deploy was purposefully designed to minimize disruption to current ministry, work, and family priorities. And equally important, it was made to optimize spiritual formation in the lives of participants,” Katip said.
Deploy includes two graduate-level seminary degree programs: Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Local Church Ministry. The Master of Divinity program is comprised of 18 competencies centered on discipleship, theology, and preaching. The Master of Arts in Local Church Ministry is made up of 15 competencies focused on communication, leadership, and compassion. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for both programs.
Dr. Jeff Gill, vice president and dean of Grace Theological Seminary, was pivotal in the creation of Deploy. “We began by asking pastors what competencies were most important to effective church ministry. Their answers challenged our thinking and eventually led to a change in our methods, which we now call Deploy,” he said. “Through research and development, we became convinced that the most effective ministry training does not take place in a classroom, but rather in the place where it all happens – the local church.”
Deploy combines an online platform and modules with contextual training and practical mentoring onsite local churches. Students are provided three mentors to aid them throughout the program: an academic mentor to guide the students’ academic learning and related competencies, a formation mentor to monitor spiritual and personal progress, and a ministry mentor to aid in ministry skills development. Students also receive a free Logos digital library account replete with academic and pastoral resources which they retain upon graduation to continue using in their ministry.
While a traditional seminary degree generally takes four to six years to complete, a Deploy degree can be completed much faster. Students work at their own pace to master each required competency. When mastery is demonstrated via an online assessment, a student moves onto the next competency immediately. Students with professional and ministry experience may accelerate their progress and complete a Master of Local Church Ministry in as little as two and one-half years or a Master of Divinity in four and one-half years.