From a personal perspective, I like change. Change is part of my wiring, so when I became president of Northwest Baptist Seminary, I was looking for what I could bring to the school.
I soon saw that from an institutional perspective, we weren’t getting the job done. We were not achieving our mission in a way that our supporting churches were enthusiastic about. They were looking right past us.
So our goal was simply to do a better job achieving our mission — preparing ministers for our supporting denomination’s churches. This is a theological commitment for us. To fulfill it, we needed to talk to those churches. And that’s when some themes and opportunities began to emerge.
I like to say that we reverse-engineered the seminary process. Our board was all in right from the start because we were finding a new way to achieve our mission.
We didn’t intend to, but we created the first M.Div. program in what is now called competency- based theological education. We called it “Immerse,” and one way to describe it is contextual learning, offered through mentoring relationships, in the direction of mastery of a set of outcomes that have been mutually recognized by the school and by the “mission-holding agency” we’re serving (in this case, a group of churches), as representing what they and we want to see in our graduates.
We now serve more than 20 mission-holding agencies who have a particular vision for what they’re called to do. As a seminary, we come along and empower that. And the product is graduates who are well prepared to join those agencies in pursuit of their missions.
Kent Anderson, P.h.D., is president of Northwest Baptist Seminary in Langley, British Columbia.
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