Church's ministry school prepares for launch

Baptist Press
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Posted: May 30, 2013 5:52 PM
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- Cross Church in northwest Arkansas is launching in August what pastor Ronnie Floyd sees as a model for addressing the "experience gap" in ministry preparation: the Cross Church School of Ministry.

"The purpose of this new school is not to replace what our universities and seminaries do by way of theological education but to complement them," Floyd said.

At any stage of ministry, from pre-college to post-seminary, a person can enroll at Cross Church School of Ministry for a one-year residential program that will provide practical ministry experience at the multisite Cross Church under Floyd and other staff members.

Students can gain credit hours to apply to a degree -- such as 18-30 hours at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary or Boyce College -- as well as follow a customized ministry track, receive personal mentorship from a Cross Church ministry staff member and participate in two stateside missions experiences and an international missions experience.

One day a week, students will participate in an Oxford-style learning environment, and they'll systematically work through a curriculum framework of ministry competencies to provide a practical supplement for what is taught in college and seminary.

The rest of the week will be spent working in full-time ministry under the mentorship of a Cross Church staff member, but the school emphasizes that this is not an internship.

Among the ministry track options are pastor, worship ministry, preschool ministry, children's ministry, youth ministry, college ministry, media ministry (lighting, sound, video, Web, graphics), Christian school administration, church planting, global missions and compassion ministries. Housing will be provided for Cross School of Ministry with the $12,000 per student cost. Upon graduation, students will receive a certificate.

Cross Church School of Ministry has developed partnerships with four Southern Baptist seminaries and the North American Mission Board as well as Boyce College, The College at Southeastern, The College at Southwestern and Union University, and more partnerships are developing.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the most important context for the training of ministers is in the local church.

"I am so glad that Cross Church and Dr. Ronnie Floyd are establishing this new program for the training of ministers within the life and ministry of one of the world's most dynamic and faithful churches," Mohler said. "Southern Seminary is proud to be in partnership with this new program and we expect great things from those who will be trained by it and sent out into the world."

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, "When local churches become interested in and committed to theological education, it always encourages my soul. Cross Church, led by Pastor Ronnie Floyd and pastoral specialist Jeff Crawford, is leading the way in blending good theology and ardent pastoral ministry."

Floyd wrote in a promotional letter, "Please rest assured, each student will learn what we as Baptists believe, both theologically and missiologically, as well as how we cooperate together to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth through the ministries of the Cooperative Program."

Floyd noted that since the adoption of the Great Commission Resurgence by the SBC in 2010 -- recommendations of a task force he served as chairman -- Cross Church has more than doubled its Cooperative Program giving. "This year we are scheduled to give at least $650,000 through the Cooperative Program and it is my prayer and desire that within the next five years, Cross Church will be able to give at least $1 million through the Cooperative Program annually," he said.

In 2011, Cross Church began a three-year church planting and missions mobilization campaign called "Greater Things" with several specific goals.

Floyd challenged Cross Church's members to plant 50 new churches in three years and -- in 2012 alone -- to mobilize at least 1,000 church members to participate in a cross-cultural missions experience outside northwest Arkansas.

The pastor also challenged the church to raise $20 million in three years to help make the vision a reality.

Cross Church has four campuses in northwest Arkansas, and Floyd wanted to ensure that a Gospel witness occurred in some way to every home in the region by the end of the Greater Things initiative.

In April, Cross Church reported to Baptist Press that 51 churches already had been planted, more than 800 members had participated in a cross-cultural missions experience, and more than $13 million had been raised toward Greater Things.

Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about Cross Church School of Ministry, visit crosschurch.com/ccsm. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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