FROM THE SEMINARIES: New SWBTS online opportunity, ongoing flex-access program and Havard move approved; SWBTS publishing arm releases 2 new books emphasizing evangelism

by BP and Southwestern Seminary staff, posted Friday, June 29, 2018 (one year ago)

In today's From the Seminaries: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Online MABC, ongoing flex-access program & Havard move approved

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- A fully online Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree and an ongoing flex-access Ph.D. program have now been approved for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by the institution's accrediting agency.

The board of commissioners of The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) met earlier this month to discuss three petitions from Southwestern, with the third being the relocation of the seminary's Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston to nearby Sagemont Church. All three petitions were approved.

Fully online MABC

Southwestern's M.A. in biblical counseling (MABC) is a 65-hour program of study designed primarily to equip Christian men and women to minister God's Word through counseling in the context of the local church or other Christian ministries. The degree includes 35 hours of theological preparation vital for effectively interpreting and ministering the Word of God. The 30 hours of counseling courses prepare students to apply God's Word in both formal and informal counseling settings. All of these courses may now be taken either in person on the seminary campus or online.

While the online degree will be offered primarily through asynchronous online delivery, the same flex-access technology utilized for the Ph.D. program will also provide the option for students to take the classes synchronously. This will give students the option of being virtually present in a classroom while classes are in session on the Fort Worth campus.

The online MABC is available now. Learn more [URL]https://swbts.edu/academics/schools/church-family-ministries/biblical-counseling/]here[/URL].

Flex-Access Ph.D.

The flex-access Ph.D. initiative began in 2015 as a three-year experiment. The initiative allows students to participate in Southwestern's existing Ph.D. program as residential students or online through live video web conferencing. With the three-year term drawing to a close, Southwestern petitioned for the program to become an ongoing initiative.

Southwestern reported that offering Ph.D. coursework through synchronous video had allowed the Ph.D. program to grow over the last three years, with online Ph.D. students increasing from 13 in 2015 (5 percent of all Ph.D. students) to 45 (15 percent of all Ph.D. students). Furthermore, student and faculty evaluations of the program were highly positive.

ATS reports learning several lessons from the three-year experiment, including that the online synchronous model accomplished what it sought: "comparable student learning outcomes between online and onsite students." Their report affirmed, "The online synchronous model preserved the value of live oral interaction among doctoral students and faculty and the value of semester-long classroom experiences."

Based on the positive assessment results reported by Southwestern over the last three years, ATS granted an ongoing exception to the Ph.D. residency requirement, allowing the coursework in all of its Ph.D. program specializations (except performance-based music) to be offered through synchronous online delivery. The flex-access component of the Ph.D. program will now be an ongoing feature.

Relocation of Houston campus

The final action of ATS was the approval of the relocation of Southwestern's Havard campus from its current location to nearby Sagemont Church. According to the ATS' report, the relocation will enable the school to use a modern educational space in a flagship church in the region for a significant reduction in cost. The new location is approximately nine miles from the current location.

All of these actions of the board of commissioners are effective as of June 5, 2018.

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New books released by SWBTS emphasize evangelism

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Two new books focusing on evangelism were released by Seminary Hill Press (SHP) at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, June 12-13. The books were available at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's booth in exhibit hall and are available online at SeminaryHillPress.com.

The first book is titled "Mobilize to Evangelize: The Pastor and Effective Congregational Evangelism." Written by Matt Queen, who occupies Southwestern's L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism ("Chair of Fire"), this resource is a practical guide for pastors who want to champion evangelism in their congregations.

The book provides pastors with tools they need to understand and to assess how evangelism is conceived, practiced and perceived in their congregations, offering realistic ideas pastors can implement to mobilize their congregations to evangelize.

"This incredible book by Dr. Matt Queen is a helpful tool to get the church back to working as witnesses for Christ," says Shane Pruitt, director of evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. "Matt is the real deal when it comes to setting an example for us all in sharing our faith. He says it, does it, and lives it. May the Lord use him and this book to teach us all how to mobilize to evangelize for the glory of God!"

SHP's second book is titled "In Praise of a God Who Saves: 110 Stories of Everyday Evangelism." Written by Southwestern's writing staff, this book comprises 110 stories -- one for each year since the seminary's founding in 1908 -- of the Gospel going forth through the witness of Southwestern students, faculty and alumni. Collectively, these stories detail the salvation of 1,479 people whom God has saved in the last three years through Southwestern's evangelism efforts.

"The stories and articles that form this book indicate a continued and discernible movement of God through the intentionally evangelistic efforts of Southwestern's students, staff, faculty and administration," says Matt Queen, who wrote the book's foreword.

"As you read these 110 stories, take a moment to thank God for the individuals, churches and communities that have been changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, praise God for the testimonials of seminary students, staff and faculty you will read that attest to increases in professions of faith and baptisms resulting from intentional evangelistic efforts in churches that surround the seminary."

Seminary Hill Press is the publishing arm of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Compiled by Baptist Press Editor Shawn Hendricks from reporting by Alex Sibley and the communications office of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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