NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Building upon the seminary’s focus on preparing students with the competencies necessary to minister effectively in healthy churches, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved four new master of arts degrees to provide specialized training for students in the areas of biblical studies, theology, missiology, and worship ministries. In addition, the trustees approved a youth ministry certificate, and a new master of social work degree during their March 12-13 meeting in the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health.
The M.A. degrees in theology and biblical studies provide focused training to prepare students for research doctorate studies and subsequent teaching or research positions. The missiology degree is designed to help prospective missionaries complete their degree before going to the mission field, and the worship ministries degree is designed to combine music fundamentals training with ministerial training for service in the local church.
The master of arts in biblical studies and the master of arts in theology are for students who majored in religion in college and feel called into teaching and research positions, explained NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke.
“These M.A. degrees in theology and biblical studies are for those few students who know from the beginning of their seminary career that they feel called into a ministry of teaching, writing, or research, ” said Lemke. “It provides more focused study in a particular discipline, and a faster track to the Ph.D. program than the M.Div. degree,” said Lemke. “These degrees allow students with an excellent academic preparation to build on the foundation of their undergraduate studies without repeating introductory courses.”
Students pursuing the 53-hour biblical studies degree may opt for a broad-based degree in biblical languages or for a concentration in Old Testament and Hebrew, New Testament and Greek, or biblical backgrounds. Students who complete all the degree requirements are eligible to apply to the Ph.D. program at NOBTS in the majors of Old Testament, New Testament, and biblical backgrounds and archaeology.
Students pursuing the 48-hour master of arts degree in theology may opt for a generalist degree or for a concentration in theology, church history, or philosophy/ethics. Students who complete all the degree requirements of the master of arts degree in theology are eligible to apply to the Ph.D. at NOBTS in the majors of church history and theology.
In addition, the trustees approved two master of arts degrees that provide specialized training in a specific ministry — the master of arts degree in missiology and the master of arts degree in worship ministries.
The master of arts in missiology degree is a specialized professional graduate degree to train those involved in sharing the gospel cross-culturally, for those presently engaged in mission work or those who are preparing for mission service. The degree plan affords the opportunity to blend academic training with practical field experience.
This 52-hour degree is intended to introduce students to a broad range of missiological and theological disciplines. A thesis, project, practicum, or specialized approved courses are required. Students who complete this degree and desire to pursue a Ph.D. with a major in missions would need to complete biblical language prerequisites for that degree.
“Missionaries sometimes complete the thirty hours required by the International Mission Board but leave seminary without any degree in recognition for their work,” said Perry Hancock, dean of graduate studies. “The M.A. in missiology allows them to earn a missions-focused degree, some of which can be completed on the mission field.”
Philip Pinckard, associate professor of missions, added, “This degree can also benefit those serving on the mission field who want specialized training in missions studies which may be applied to the field where they are serving. This includes both on campus courses and those that may be taken while engaged in cross-cultural missions ministry outside of the United States.”
The master of arts degree in worship ministries is designed to equip individuals who desire to serve the local church in the area of worship leadership. Foundational courses offering a broad theological understanding are complemented by in-depth studies in the field of worship. Three tracks are available: a leadership track for those whose primary interest is acquiring the leadership skills necessary to develop and oversee a worship ministry; a music track for those who wish to acquire a fundamental knowledge of the musical skills needed to lead worship music; and a research track for those interested in a primarily academic understanding of a particular aspect of worship.
“This degree was designed for the student who believes that their primary ministry in the local church is going to be training congregations concerning worship, planning worship services that incorporate multiple art forms, and effectively leading God’s people to the throne,” said Ken Gabrielse, chairman of the church music ministries. “It offers a balanced approach to worship leadership training; music, theology, and ministry.”
The 49-hour degree is intended to introduce students to Christian worship in its biblical, historical and theological dimensions, and how to make worship relevant in the church of the 21st century. This two-year program of study incorporates training in the worship leadership practicum setting, in a graduate project, and in curricular offerings. In the research track, a thesis is required. In the leadership and music tracks, a project is required.
The youth ministry certificate came as a result of a survey in which more than 50 percent of youth ministry respondents indicated that they had received no formal youth ministry training, yet most were employed full-time in that capacity.
Incorporated in NOBTS’s growing Youth Ministry Institute program, which enrolls more than 100 students each year, the certificate’s flexible design allows bivocational and volunteer youth ministers to obtain focused training without spending long periods away from their ministry field. Intended also for veteran youth ministers who desire continuing education or for master’s- and bachelor-level students who are currently studying other disciplines, the program will be structured in weekend and workshop formats to allow as many youth workers as possible to receive training.
Allen Jackson, associate professor of youth education and director of Youth Ministry Institute, said, “The Certificate in Youth Ministry is for all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience among those who work with youth. The various modules provide a way for old timers to get refreshed, veterans to get better, and rookies to get started. It will help full-time, part-time, bivocational, and volunteer youth ministers to become better equipped in very specific aspects of youth ministry.”