The Lambuth Religion Department will unveil a new Religion major beginning in the fall of 2010: a B.A. degree in Religion and Christian Ministry.
The new Religion and Christian Ministry major provides students with a foundation in the academic study of Religion, especially the biblical, historical and theological dimensions of Christianity. The major is also designed to help students develop skills for the practice of ministry in the student’s choice from three areas: Evangelism and Apologetics; Ministry with Youth and Children; or Worship Arts.
“I will find it very satisfying to see the Christian Ministry program come to fruition, because I’ve had a major role in visioning this program with leaders of the Memphis Annual Conference and faculty in the Department of Religion and Philosophy for almost three years,” said Dr. Cindy Wesley, Chair of the Religion Department and Associate Professor of Religion at Lambuth.
“The department’s current Religion major, as well as the Religion and Philosophy major, are such academically strong programs. These majors serve our students well. Our graduates have typically gone on to attend highly-ranked seminaries and graduate programs, often with the help of significant scholarships,” she said.
“I’m enthused about this new program,” said Dr. Joel Allen, Assistant Professor of Religion and Bible. “It has the potential of making a significant impact on the campus and the Memphis Conference.”
Several reasons for the creation of this new degree program are specified in the initial proposal. While it may have been the case in the past that students came to Lambuth with preparation for seminary in mind, fewer students at Lambuth, and at United Methodist colleges as a whole, are entering seminary immediately after graduation.
Students seem to be more interested in working in the local church ministry setting immediately after graduation.
A Religion and Christian Ministry major will provide students with rigorous training in biblical and theological studies, while also giving them some of the tools they need to engage in healthy ministry. The major may be able to provide an internship program with mentoring, as well as academic and administrative oversight.
The leadership of the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church needs leaders who are qualified in the areas of Youth and Children’s Ministries and Worship Leadership.
Conference churches also need leaders who have the interest and skills to revitalize existing churches or help plant new congregations.
“We’re committed to training intelligent disciples of Jesus Christ who will serve the church,” Allen said. “Our Evangelism and Apologetics emphasis is completely unique in United Methodist College circles, to my knowledge. We want the church to know that we’re committed to historic Christianity, in general, and to the United Methodist Church, in particular.”
The leadership of the Memphis Conference is very excited that Lambuth is considering offering a new major in Christian Ministry and is assisting with providing funds to hire adjunct faculty. The Conference leaders are also working with members of the department to seek donors for the Christian Ministry program.
If one looks at employment openings at United Methodist churches, one repeatedly finds ads for Youth Ministers, Children’s Ministers and Worship Leaders capable of handling a contemporary worship service. Lambuth’s Religion and Christian Ministries program will team up with the institution’s successful new Entertainment/Music Industry Studies program to train worship leaders for the church.
Students who complete the Religion and Christian Ministry major will be prepared to enter seminary upon graduation. They will also be better prepared than past graduates to be youth ministers, children’s ministers or worship leaders upon graduation from Lambuth.
Several United Methodist colleges have implemented practical ministry programs. While their academic rigor varies by institution, those colleges have experienced a growth in enrollment and an increase in students interested in studying religion.
“This major is designed to promote Christian faith,” said Dr. Manning Garrett, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy.
“Some Christians do not need intellectual reasons in order to have a vibrant faith, and that is wonderful,” he said. “However, at a time when educated people are turning away from the Christian faith because they assume there are no good reasons in support of Historic Christianity, the ‘Apologetic and Evangelism’ wing of this major provides courses designed to show that Christianity has intellectually respectable reasons that support a faith commitment on one’s life to the Lord.
“Peter wrote that Christians ought to be ready to give a reason (apology) for the hope that is within you to those who ask (I Peter 3:15),” Garrett said.
There are two specific areas in which local churches can play a significant role in aiding in this budding program’s success.
First, congregations can be ambassadors for this excellent new program and encourage any students in your churches, who might be interested in Christian Ministry, to consider Lambuth.
Second, the University would love to share this new major with the world through various advertising channels. Lambuth humbly asks for your generous monetary support for this effort.
If you would like a publication flyer about the program or if you have any questions,email firstname.lastname@example.org
“The new Christian Ministry program, which will be the third major offered by Lambuth’s Department of Religion and Philosophy, brings together our tradition of academic excellence with new courses that will help students in the practice of ministry,” Dr. Wesley said.
“I have no doubt that our United Methodist churches will benefit greatly from the leadership of a new generation of Lambuth graduates.”