The Master of Divinity curriculum at BTSR includes three areas of emphasis that are integral to the preparation of every student, regardless of his or her specific ministry interest.
Academic preparation for ministry is the primary purpose of a theological seminary. BTSR also stresses that academic preparation must be accompanied by attention to spiritual formation.
Theological education is not only a matter of the mind; it is a matter of the heart. To this end, all entering students are required to take courses that introduce them to spirituality and the spiritual disciplines, especially prayer, and which aid them in cultivating both private and corporate means for spiritual development. They must also take a course that helps them develop ministry skills by strengthening their own spiritual lives.
In addition to providing courses in spirituality, the seminary worships as a community and prays together. Special workshops and periodic retreats help students in their spiritual formation and facilitate their development of spiritual resources necessary for effective practice of ministry.
Global Mission Immersion
BTSR recognizes that the church has truly become global in composition; therefore we seek to help students broaden their vision to attain a global perspective. Students are required to complete the Mission Immersion Experience. The purpose of this course is to enlarge the vision of seminary students during the formative years of their Christian vocation and to enhance their cross-cultural Christian experience through cross-cultural education and shared learning.
Congregational-focused Theological Education
BTSR emphasizes that theological education should be focused toward ministry within a congregation or a community of faith. Most students will serve in the congregation of a local church. For those preparing for other ministries, such as chaplaincy or social ministry, a different form of community of faith will be their “congregation.”
This congregational emphasis is borne out in three ways:
- The curriculum of the seminary is designed so that each course relates in some way to the life of the church. All that is taught is in dialogue with the congregation or community of faith. The needs of the church become the focus of teaching, as ministerial students are introduced not only to the best academics but also to the lives of congregations.
- A focus on congregations means that laity are invited to participate in the process of the student’s field-based experience. Each student has opportunity to be part of a community of faith in which laypersons help to guide, evaluate, critique, and train the student. Involvement of the laity in this process introduces students to the life of the church and to ministry in a more helpful manner.
- A focus on congregations means that the faculty is committed to sharing the resources of the seminary with local churches and other communities of faith.
The curriculum is designed to bring students into close contact with church congregations and ministries throughout their academic careers. The year-long field-based experience draws the student into close contact with one particular church fellowship or other community of faith. The student learns how that congregation operates and receives guidance from the laity.
In all that we do, BTSR seeks to serve by equipping ministers to lead the congregations and ministries of the church of tomorrow. We seek to thoroughly acquaint ministers with church life and to impart knowledge of the skills for congregational leadership.