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June 2011

Major Highlight: Student Ministry

Professor Doug Bradbury with students on a trip to Wyoming

Geneva College offers more than 30 majors. Student ministry is among the majors with the highest enrollment, along with engineering, business, education and psychology.

When we consider the research regarding college students, our work certainly seems to be cut out for us. A recent study shows that over 80% of high school students who are active in their churches and youth programs do not continue their involvement through their college years and beyond. Sobering statistics like this invite us to consider the way students are prepared to pursue their call as future student ministers. In Geneva College′s student ministry program, we prepare students by providing background in four core areas: Bible, Theory, Methods and Experience.

We believe it is of central importance that a student who majors in student ministry has a thorough understanding of the Scriptures. In the Bible Core, students learn the fundamentals of biblical interpretation and then exercise those skills in gospel studies and Old and New Testament classes. We hope that our graduates are able to articulate the Big Story of God′s grace, love and forgiveness woven into the meta-narrative of Scripture.

In the Theory Core, students encounter complex themes in classes in theology and philosophy, as well as research on the contemporary context of student ministry. This research challenges students to consider the ways in which psychological development, family dynamics, pop culture, schooling and marketing shape the adolescent experience in the United States.

In our Methods Core, students discuss various strategies and methods used in effective ministries. These courses help students discover their own strengths and emphasize the significance of a youth minister′s relationship and intimacy with Christ. Likewise, this area of study exposes students to broad themes associated with various areas of ministry including urban, children′s, college, parachurch and adventure-based ministries. Exposure to family systems, teaching techniques and effective Bible study leadership, as well as networking with a broad range of dynamic ministries, develops the skills and strengths necessary for success in this professional field. Likewise, students encounter a host of professional considerations including time and risk management, strategic ministry design, public speaking, publications, leadership development, intergenerational ministry, spiritual formation, and professional expectations.

Finally, the Experience Core provides students with at least three semesters of measured observed experience in several ministries contexts. Students participate in two semesters of practicum in which they spend 8 - 10 hours per week volunteering in a local ministry and, during the senior year, complete an internship of 30- 40 hours a week for at least 10 weeks. This provides an opportunity for students to have "real world" experience in a vibrant ministry context, which fosters both competence and confidence and assists them in obtaining ministry jobs after graduation.

One of the greatest strengths of our program is the formation of a unique community of learners who grow together in faith and practice. Our courses are designed to not only provide cutting-edge insights, but to also develop character. Many students participate in community-building activities such as retreats, celebratory dinners, overnights designed for spiritual growth, professional conferences and small group Bible study. In addition, we create opportunities for upper classmen to mentor incoming students, and alumni are invited back to network and share their real life perspective on ministry.

The student ministry program is a part of the Biblical Studies Department and all of the professors have extensive ministry experience. In addition, several adjunct faculty members contribute specialized expertise to the program. Our program and staff deliver an outstanding foundation for faithful student ministry. The mixture of classroom insight with real ministry experience provides a rich and realistic learning experience for students. This is testified to, not simply by our students′ success in obtaining ministry jobs but, more importantly, by the quality of their service.

- Professor Doug Bradbury ′87

Message from a grad

Lindsay York, music education major
"I know God wants me to work really hard at what I'm doing, not because I want to be the best...but because I want to glorify Him."

Click here to read Lindsay's profile.

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