Moore courses go part time
I wrote in May about how Moore College is committed to equipping servants of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this time of turbulent change. Now I would like to report an important decision that has arisen from this commitment. It is one of a number of initiatives at Moore in response to the changing shape of today's ministries that I hope to be announcing over the next few months. Before we come to the decision, I would like to say a little about the remarkable resource that Moore College is for the equipping of servants of the gospel and why therefore I am keen to encourage the enthusiastic support of its work.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is building his church through servants of the gospel (Col 1:23), whose chief task is to proclaim Christ, "warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ" (Col 1:28). While it is to be expected that these servants will suffer in various ways " serving the gospel is very hard work (see Col. 1:29)! " there is enormous joy in serving the gospel of Christ, and so serving his church (see Col. 1:24,25; 2:5). What greater privilege could there be? What better way to spend a life? How thankful we all must be for the servants who have laboured for us (see Col 1:7; 4:12,13)!
These are days of change and innovation in forms of Christian ministry. Various approaches to church planting are developing. Ministries focused on particular subcultures (on ethnic, professional, or some other basis) are multiplying. The challenges in cross-cultural mission are being met in fresh ways. More traditional forms of parish-based ministry are also undergoing renewal, here in Sydney partly under the impetus of the Diocesan Mission and Connect09.
One of the most important questions we face is how best to raise up and prepare gospel servants for these days of great and varied opportunity.
What is distinctive about Moore?
Readers of this column may not be surprised to hear me say that I am convinced Moore College is unique. Under God's gracious hand Moore College has played a vital role in preparing many outstanding servants of the gospel to preach Christ throughout the world. But what is it that makes Moore College distinctive?
Most important are the teachers. I am constantly thankful to God for the fellowship of godly, able and Christ-honouring men and women who are the Moore College faculty. They are known internationally for their faithful and solid biblical teaching. They are known by their students for their love of Christ and their exemplary Christian lives and characters. Whenever someone asks me about how to decide whether to come to Moore College, I urge them to consider these outstanding scholar-pastor-teachers.
Moore College also has a worldwide reputation for teaching how the whole Bible and all of its parts bear witness to Christ (as Jesus said in John 5:39!). This is very important (and less common than you might think in Bible and Theological Colleges). At Moore College the curriculum is not only permeated through and through by the Bible (it is that!), but God's written word is honoured by being firmly believed, and properly understood in relation to its climactic centre: Christ Jesus the Lord. The teaching at Moore is thoroughly "biblical" in this important sense: each part of the Bible is understood in the context of the whole Bible. (The well-known writings of Graeme Goldsworthy and the popular Introduction to the Bible correspondence course are renowned examples of this.)
Furthermore Moore College is known around the world for standing firm, faithfully teaching and defending the evangelical and reformed Christian faith. This means a deep and personal love for the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in his sin-bearing death, a firm confidence in the written word of God and a wholehearted desire for Christ to be made known in all the world and that many might be saved.
It is in this context that Moore College's reputation for "academic rigour" must be understood (it is often misunderstood!). While students come to Moore from a wide range of educational backgrounds and academic abilities we are serious about learning well and thoroughly. Faithful servants of the gospel of Christ must have their thinking (about everything!) comprehensively renewed by God's word. We do not hide from hard questions or dodge difficult data. We must learn openly and honestly, humbly confident that faith and truth are friends, not enemies.
These distinctive aspects of Moore College work together in the preparation of gospel servants for mission and ministry throughout the world. The college itself has several thousand students studying in more than 50 countries through correspondence and online courses. Our graduates are preaching Christ in at least as many countries. Moore College is undeniably a great missionary college!
Value of full-time study
For many years it has been possible to study at Moore College by correspondence (and now online) (Certificate in Theology), by evening lectures (Diploma of Biblical Studies), by full-time study (the main undergraduate program of diplomas and degrees), and by part-time study at the postgraduate level (masters and doctorate).
Within this range of options, the main program is the four-year full-time Bachelor of Divinity. This is a program of learning and growth designed to lay firm foundations for a lifetime of faithful Christian leadership. It is the best (and most important) thing Moore College does!
In the context of current discussions about ministry training, and before I come to the changes that we will be introducing from next year, let me say a little about the value of full-time study at Moore College.
Theological education (learning of God and his ways) involves much more than the content of a curriculum. The full-time program at Moore enables a rich fellowship of learning that is an important and formative part of the experience of growing in knowing our heavenly Father. The full-time program includes elements that are difficult or impossible in part-time study (including chapel, meals together, missions and pastoral relationships with members of the faculty).
Furthermore the integrated program of study gains much from being full time, where various elements of the curriculum are studied side by side. The same curriculum studied part time will be a more fragmented experience.
There is no doubt in my mind that the full-time, residential four-year program offers the very best way to lay foundations for a lifetime of faithful Christian ministry in most settings.
More part-time study
However in today's context of changing forms of ministry there is a call for other forms of study. In particular part-time study at a higher level than Moore College has previously provided would be useful for some who, for various reasons, find that full-time study is not an option.
Therefore from 2010 it will be possible to enrol by part-time study in what was previously the first year of the full-time program at Moore College.
This means that it will be possible to take the following courses part time:
* the Diploma of Bible and Missions,
* the Diploma of Bible and Ministry,
* the Diploma of Bible and Youth Ministry, or
* the first year of the Bachelor of Divinity or Bachelor of Theology.
Each of these programs involves 12 semester-length units of study, which may now be taken over two, three, or even more years. Two units will be offered each semester by evening classes. On completion of any of these courses it will be possible to articulate into the full-time Year 2 of the Bachelor of Divinity or Bachelor of Theology.
The main purpose of this extension of part-time study is to better serve the diversity of ministries that are developing today. However once it is available, I hope that many people, who previously may not have been able to consider full-time study at Moore College, will consider enrolling in the part-time program. Personally I am looking forward to meeting Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, churchwardens, parish council members and many others in my Doctrine 1 class to be offered in first semester next year by evening lectures!
This is one of a number of new initiatives planned for 2010 through which I am looking forward to seeing the great resource of Moore College serving the greatest mission in the world: the building of the church of Jesus Christ through servants of his gospel who proclaim Christ in all the world. Watch the College website for more details.
Click here to watch John Woodhouse’s video announcement of the decision to go part time.