One of the lesser-known educational aspects of George W. Truett Theological Seminary is the Certificate of Ministry Program for Small Church and Bivocational Pastors. The Certificate Program is a self-taught program helping students become more effective ministers. The program offers five sessions, each session spanning twelve weeks. The curriculum covers Baptist doctrine, church history, surveys of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, the life of Christ and Paul, church administration, as well as courses on pastoring, preaching, and counseling small congregations. The courses are taught through correspondence except the preaching course, which is an intensive summer class offered on Truett's Baugh-Reynolds Campus in Waco. Once the course is complete, the student will receive a Certificate of Ministry during the Truett baccalaureate service in the spring.
The Certificate Program draws a diverse group of students each year. Each person in the program has a unique and beautiful story about their journey with God and why they chose to enroll in the Certificate Program. One such student is Michael Lynch.
Michael is originally from Covina, California, but now calls Killeen, Texas home. He is a friend to many, a husband to Waltraud, and a father to three children ranging in ages from eight to fourteen. Michael is also a First Sergeant in the 15th Brigade Support Battalion in the First Cavalry Division of the US Army. He has been in the military since 1985 and is currently deployed in Iraq.
While browsing through class listings on the Truett website Michael discovered the Certificate Program. He says, "I was very excited and interested in the program as it was something I could get started in right and work on while I am deployed."
Early next year, Michael will retire from the Army and return to the states. He says that once home, he desires to finish his associate's degree in business management, complete a bachelor's degree, and one day attend seminary. Since his goal of seminary is in the distant future, Michael decided to enroll in the Certificate Program. He says, "My reason for entering into the program was simply to further my understanding of theology and ultimately to become a more effective messenger of Christ's message."
Michael says that his expectations of the Certificate Program are "to become educated in the history of the Bible, the history of God's people, and Bible theology." He has just begun the program but speaks hopefully of the courses ahead of him. He says, "as a believer, I am consistently seeking a better understanding of who God is...I desire to know Him more and walk closer with Him. It is my desire that this program will facilitate this growth."
The Certificate of Ministry Program equips students for diverse ministry settings. Each student is living their Christian call and experiencing unique ministry settings in which they can apply their education. Michael says his present ministry setting is preaching the "the Word wherever and wherever I am lead." He says that "God has a platform in mind for me somewhere in the future; until then, my ministry setting is very fluid subject to His call. I currently minister to Soldiers in need of God's mercy."
When thinking about ministering, Michael says, "All I have to offer the church in my service to the Lord is my willing heart and my desire to serve my God. Through my studies I only want to come closer to my God and to understand what he did."
For more information about the Certificate Ministry Program click here or contact Larry Givens at Larry_Givens@Baylor.edu.