Why a Global Initiative?
Since 1987 Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary has maintained a resident campus in upstate New York training pastors, missionaries and church staff leaders. God moved upon those efforts by calling dozens of local leaders to walk through our doors and out into fields white unto harvest. Due to those efforts, there are 81 pastors, 22 church planters, 7 chaplains, 4 missionaries and 3 working in the Christian education field in the northeast. And-4,863 people have been led to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ!
In this modern world, technology has a way of changing things especially in higher education. With the explosion of online education, many institutions have moved away from the high cost of maintaining a bricks-and-mortar campus and invested in online delivery systems. The great benefit of an online delivery system is access to a world-wide audience of prospective students. Instead of recruiting students from a 100-mile radius around a physical campus, you can now recruit students from all over the world.
Technology has not only changed the way theological education is delivered; it has also changed the prospective student. Just twenty years ago, prospective seminary and college students would leave jobs, ministry positions, family and friends and physically move to the campus location to pursue a degree. At present, it is increasingly difficult to recruit students willing to make those transitions when a seminary education is available anywhere their laptop is connected to Wi-Fi.
Our efforts to train laborers for harvest work in the northeast have transitioned to Mid-America Global Northeast. This is an online based initiative designed to train leaders in key cities in the northeast. In addition to training leaders in the Capital District of New York, we now have students spread as far west as Rochester, NY, as far east as Lee, MA, and as far south as Baltimore, MD. Since this program's inception, there has been an exponential increase in the size of our footprint in the northeast and in the number of students.
Another integral part of our new initiative is the mentoring feature. We call it Mentored Online Virtual Education or MOVE and it involves local pastors in the education of our online students. Approved local pastors will take small groups of our online students and meet with them regularly and shepherd them through their academic training. Mentors will provide leadership, contextualization, encouragement-everything one would receive in a discipleship relationship. As an institution, we acknowledge that a Christian laborer is not fully trained by academics alone. They need sharpening-a sharpening that can only occur through the human touch of mentoring and discipleship.
We believe that one of the pathways to reach the world for Christ runs through the northeast region of the United States. Join us and be a part of it all.
Michael S. Haggard, PhD
Northeast MOVE Coordinator