SBTS launches new school to provide diverse theological training for associate ministers

Communications Staff — April 21, 2009

Trustees at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Tuesday approved the creation of a new school that will combine Southern’s School of Church Music and Worship with its School of Leadership and Church Ministry to better meet the changing needs of local congregations.

The new School of Church Ministries aims to better equip associate level church staff members because those who fill positions such as music minister or youth pastor are increasingly playing additional roles in local congregations, seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., said.

“The creation of the new School of Church Ministries allows us to combine in one school the best way of serving the churches of our denomination by training and educating those persons who will serve in a variety of ministry fields other than that of pastor,” Mohler said.

“For the first time we will have a unified curriculum and we will be able to combine the resources of faculty and the entire institution in order to make certain that we are training real people for real ministry in real churches. The reality is that the vast majority of those who will lead music in our churches have other responsibilities as well.”

A task force composed of faculty members and deans from Southern’s four schools, trustees and school of church music and worship alumni, conducted research in local church bodies and discovered that associate-level ministers are increasingly wearing several ministerial hats, said Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration.

Thus, the new school will train its students in a variety of disciplines from music and worship to family ministry and leadership.

‘We spent much time talking with pastors and ministers of music, to find that music ministers are, in the vast majority of cases, doing everything from discipleship to evangelism leadership to Christian education to family ministry,’ Moore said.

‘This new school will provide a pioneering curriculum training ministers to serve in multiple roles at once. It will also create a new faculty synergy, combining their strengths to train multi-competent ministers who are leaders in family ministry, worship ministry, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, youth ministry, children’s ministry, Christian education, and discipleship.’

After completing its research, the task force recommended the combining of the two schools, Moore said.

Instead of four schools, Southern will now have three: the School of Theology, the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism and the new School of Church Ministries. The new school will launch in the fall.

Faculty members from both the School of Church Music and Worship and the School of Leadership and Church Ministry will serve within the School of Church Ministries and Randy Stinson will serve as dean. Greg Brewton will serve as area coordinator over music and worship.

“We want to bring faculty and educational resources together in one school to be able to train those who will serve in these fields in a situation that is more like the local church,” Mohler said.

“We are very proud of the history of both the School of Church Music and Worship and the School of Leadership and Church Ministry. Both have served well, both have distinguished histories and both bring a great deal to this new school. The reality is that we are experiencing vast changes in the landscape of higher education and these reflect similar changes in the lives of our churches.

“We are absolutely determined that Southern Seminary be on the front lines of innovation and making certain that we are best serving the needs of our churches. Our determination is to do no less. This new School of Church Ministries puts Southern Seminary in the best position to serve the needs of all of our churches with a theological education marked by deep conviction, unquestioned excellence and an unwavering focus on the local church.”

Ron Turner, who serves as Carolyn King Ragan Professor of Church Music, agrees that the change will enhance Southern’s ability to serve churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“For the 70% of SBC churches that want ‘cross-trained’ staff ministers, we will now have a greater variety of combination programs of majors and minors for training multi-capable ministers,” Turner said.

“For the first time, we will now even have church music minor programs, which is a distinct gain. And for those students called into a more specialized music ministry, and for the churches who need them, we retain the Master of Church Music degree program and our doctoral music programs. All in all, it appears ultimately to be a win-win situation.”

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