A Theological College in Your Church

By Joe Holland    |    September 27, 2022


By this point, Jack was already frazzled. Emily, his wife, could see the weariness on his face and the slump of his shoulders as she looked at him across their living room. There were eleven people gathered there, Bibles open, enjoying the weekly community group that Jack and Emily hosted in their home. Jack had just asked his opening question about the passage they were studying. The first person to answer was new to the group and began by saying, “What I feel like this passage means to me is . . . “ Jack has been leading studies like this long enough to know two things at this point in the meeting. First, he is so grateful that new people find their group inviting enough to attend regularly. He hopes they will all find a home in their group and their church. But second, answers that start that way quickly end up in opinion and feeling sharing rather than getting to the bottom of what that Bible passage actually means. Jack will have to work hard as a leader to graciously and skillfully get the conversation back on track. It was part of what he signed up for. But he is carrying a heavier burden than usual by this point in the evening. Before the meeting began, when everyone was sharing a meal together, Fred—a long-time group member—told Jack that he had lost his job earlier that day and needed counsel. And Emily doesn’t know it yet, but after the study is over, when everyone is getting ready to leave, Jennifer is going to tell her about the miscarriage she had late last week. Emily won’t know what to say; she’ll just cry with Jennifer and pray with her. Jack and Emily count it a privilege to lead a community group in their home. At the same time, nights like this remind them that they need to continue to grow in their knowledge of the Bible and in the skill of applying it to the lives of others.

Jack and Emily’s story can be thematically retold in every nook and cranny of the average church. Lay elders, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, men’s and women’s group leaders, volunteer youth leaders, and many more types of lay leaders in the local church face the challenges of teaching the beautiful complexities of Christian theology to the Christians that they disciple and the non-Christians they evangelize. And most of them are pursuing some kind of theological education designed for them. That education may be through book recommendations, training groups at their church led by their pastor, or from a local Bible college or seminary if they are lucky enough to live in a town with one.

But another person in the mix is the pastor who leads these lay leaders. He likely has a seminary education. Technically, he has the book learning and experience to teach and train the lay leaders in his church. If he has a large enough pastoral staff, he may be able to share the load of church pastoral care in such a way as to free up some of his time to train lay leaders. But pastoral ministry is triage. Most pastors, well-trained as they are, simply don’t have the bandwidth to provide theological education for the leaders in their church.

The core commitment of Grimké College is providing an on-demand, Christ-centered practical theological education for men and women who want to be more effective leaders in their local churches.”

—Joe Holland

The challenge, then, is multiplex. Lay leaders in local churches need theological training. Most pastors do not have the ability to provide all of that training. Lay leaders usually cannot move to attend a residential seminary or Bible college. And theological education should take place in the local church under the guidance of that church’s leadership. A program for theological education designed to meet the needs of these leaders would have to look different than many iterations of theological education currently available.

Enter Grimké College

Today we’re announcing open enrollment for Grimké College—a fully online theological degree. Grimké College provides a twelve-course, thirty-six credit hour Master in Christian Ministry degree to serve leaders like Jack and Emily. The core commitment of Grimké College is providing an on-demand, Christ-centered practical theological education for men and women who want to be more effective leaders in their local churches. We want to help pastors and elders train their leaders rather than supplant pastors and elders in the training of their leaders. We offer students an opportunity to pursue master’s-level theological training while strengthening their current leadership roles in their own local churches.

The Courses

Grimké College’s Master in Christian Ministry is comprehensive and staged for student success. There are twelve courses that prepare the student for most church situations they will face—from leading Bible studies to one-on-one discipleship. The twelve courses in the Master in Christian Ministry (MCM) are:

These courses each take a minimum of eight weeks to complete. They are designed to be taken sequentially as each course builds on the next. By the time the student is studying ethics and a Christian worldview, the student has already displayed proficiency in biblical studies. Though the entire degree could be completed in ninety-six weeks (less than two years), a student could also go slower to accommodate other commitments or seasons of life where there isn’t as much time for study.

The Experience

To deliver this level of education in the context of the local church, Grimké College has crafted a unique student experience. Highlights include:

Taken together, the student experience at Grimké College leverages the latest technology to provide the best theological training to leaders in the context of their local church under the supervision of a local church mentor. The entire experience has been crafted to keep costs low. Each three-credit course costs $695. And through our partnership with Logos Bible Software, required textbooks are included in the cost of the courses and integrated into the online learning platform.

Next Steps

Because the MCM is a degree by the church and for the church, there are no academic prerequisites. The only requirement for prospective students is to be recognized leaders in their local churches and maintain membership in good standing. If you are looking for more information, we hope you’ll browse our website, request more information, or take the next step in your theological training and apply. We are currently accepting applications for the start of our first class in January of 2023.

Learn more about Grimké College and find out if it’s right for you.

Learn More
  1. The student’s mentor can be any seasoned leader in the student’s church with some theological training and ministry experience.
Joe Holland

Joe Holland is professor of Christian ministry and academic dean for Grimké College. He also serves as managing editor for Grimké Seminary and College.

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