I'm excited to share with you this conversation with a ministry hero of mine, Dr. Daryl Eldridge. Dr. Eldridge is one of the founders and the President of my seminary, Rockridge. Rockbridge is a 100% online seminary that is creating an affordable and flexible yet highly effective seminary training for ministry leaders without having to leave ministry to attend.
Where did you get the idea for Rockbridge Seminary to be 100% online?
In 2003, the founders of Rockbridge were serving in residential seminaries. Wherever we traveled, prospective students asked us if they could do their studies without going to our campus. For prospective students already engaged in a ministry, uprooting their family was just not an option. At that time, schools could only allow 1 year of studies online, which meant students still had to travel to a residential campus. So we asked how we could put a seminary 100% online and design it around the purposes of the church. A friend pushed us over the tipping point by asking, “If you don’t do this, who will?”
What has been what you expected since the launch of Rockbridge and what has been completely unexpected?
We expected to deliver an online educational experience that was comparable, if not better in some ways, to a residential seminary. There were several things we didn’t expect. First, we thought we might have trouble attracting qualified faculty members that would embrace online learning. We discovered there were more than enough qualified teachers/practitioners who wanted to invest their lives in training a generation of servant leaders.
Second, while we knew that meaningful relationships could be developed online we were surprised the online learning environment provided better opportunities for long lasting friendships with students and faculty.
Third, critics said you couldn’t effectively teach content areas like preaching, languages, or spiritual formation through online environments. We’ve discovered you can accomplish learning objectives for a given subject if you think creatively about how to design the learning experience in an online medium.
What do you see ahead for seminary training as a whole as well Rockbridge seminary specifically?
The number and variety of options for seminary training will continue to explode. As technology improves, we’ll see more interactive learning environments such as gaming, Second-Life, and hologram conversations. We will also see more churches custom tailor their own brand of seminary for staff and church leaders.
Content will not be the driving force for seminary education as it has been in the past. In milliseconds a person can Google search a topic and find more information about a subject than they could 15 years ago in the most comprehensive seminary library. Social conversations will be the hub of learning management software. Seminaries must provide sacred learning environments where students can learn to interpret biblical truth, understand the culture, and effectively lead a church or ministry organization to reach that culture.
Our vision at Rockbridge is to provide accessible, affordable, and practical ministry training to this and the next generation of servant leaders. These are exciting days to be in ministry.
You can connect with Dr. Eldridge on Twitter - @drdaryl and find out more about Rockridge Seminary by visiting their website at http://Rockbridge.edu.
If you are considering seminary at all I cannot recommend more that you highly consider Rockbridge Seminary. If you have any questions please don't hesitant to leave a comment or send me a message.