LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees have approved the creation of a new school combining the School of Church Music and Worship with the School of Leadership and Church Ministry to better meet the changing needs of local congregations.
The new School of Church Ministries, approved by trustees April 21, aims to better equip church staff members who fill such positions as music minister or youth pastor and increasingly are carrying additional roles in local congregations, SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr.
“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 of faculty members and deans from Southern’s four schools, trustees and school of church music and worship alumni conducted research in local churches and discovered that associate-level ministers increasingly are wearing several ministerial hats, said Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the seminary’s School of Theology.
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.”
The task force, after completing its research, recommended combining 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.
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, which will launch this fall.
Randy Stinson will be the dean of the new school while Greg Brewton will serve as coordinator over music and worship. Stinson is dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry, while Brewton is coordinator of the church music department of Boyce College, the seminary’s undergraduate school.
“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,” Mohler said. “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, agreed that the change will enhance Southern’s ability to serve churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“For the 70 percent 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.”
Jeff Robinson is director of news and information for Southern Baptist Tbheological Seminary.