NOBTS to launch shorter, more focused MA degrees in discipleship, pastoral ministry

By Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) board of trustees approved new master of arts degrees in discipleship and pastoral ministry during their spring meeting April 15. The board also expanded the school’s accessibility efforts by adding five new certificate training sites.

The new 36- to 37-hour master of arts (MA) degrees in discipleship and pastoral ministry represent a new approach at NOBTS. The shorter professional master’s degrees are designed to offer focused study and skill develop in their respective areas. Both are available through residential or nonresidential study options.

As professional degrees, these new MAs do not lead to doctoral work without significant leveling study. NOBTS continues to offering longer, more comprehensive master’s programs in Christian education and pastoral ministry, however the new MAs provide another option to ministry practitioners.

The new MA in discipleship was designed by the division of Christian education to prepare students for educational and discipleship ministry leadership in the local church. The degree offers a strong foundation in biblical exposition and Christian theological heritage and 24-hours of coursework in disciple-making and discipleship.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer specific training in what is probably the most discussed topic in the Christian community,” said Randall L. Stone, chairperson of the Christian Education Division at NOBTS. “The master of arts in discipleship helps address the growing desires of pastors and staff to create discipling congregations and ministries.”

“In this professional degree we have attempted to create an intentional balance of principle and practice which features biblical and theological foundations, as well as basic and advanced discipleship courses,” Stone said. “Our faculty is delighted to lead the way as we seek to educate and equip disciple-making leaders.”

The MA in pastoral ministry is designed to equip local church pastors and ministerial staff members. It offers a strong foundation in biblical exposition and Christian theological heritage and up to 19 hours of coursework in pastoral ministry.

“The master of arts in pastoral ministry is designed to meet the needs of those who sense the call of God on their lives to serve as pastors or ministerial staff members in the local church,” said Preston Nix, chairperson of the Pastoral Ministries Division at NOBTS. “The degree is very practical in nature with a focus on preparing the minister to develop the skills necessary to serve more effectively in the place to which he feels called.”

“This 36- to 37-hour degree provides an option previously unavailable through NOBTS to God-called men and women who, because of their life circumstances and ministry contexts, are not able to commit to a longer degree program,” Nix said. “This degree could prove helpful to meet the particular needs of the bi-vocational pastor as well as many of the students entering the new Caskey Center program.”

NOBTS will launch the new degrees as soon as the seminary’s accrediting agency, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, grants approval.

The trustees continued their efforts to offer high quality remote education options. The board approved five new undergraduate certificate sites, three in Florida and two in Georgia. The Florida sites will be hosted by Calvary Church in Clearwater, First Baptist Church in Plant City and Iglesia Manantiales de Vida in Miami. The Georgia sites will be hosted by Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta and Colquitt County Baptist Association in Moultrie.

In other action, the trustees approved a $23.2 million budget and elected board officers for the 2015-2016 academic year. California Baptist University Professor Dan Wilson was elected as board chairman; Frank Cox, Senior Pastor at North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., was elected as vice chairman; and Marsha Dyess, a retired entrepreneur from Prairieville, La., was re-elected for another term as secretary/treasurer.

In other action, the trustees approved a $23.2 million budget and approved the following faculty promotions:

• Angie Bauman, director of student services at North Georgia Hub, was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor of Christian education. Bauman was also granted tenure by the trustees;
• Jeff Griffin, dean of libraries, was promoted from associate professor to professor of Old Testament and Hebrew;
• Ed Steele, was promoted from associate professor to professor of music in Leavell College;
• Kathy Steele, director of clinical training, was promoted from associate professor to professor of psychology and counseling, occupying the James H. & Susan E. Brown Christian Counseling Chair.