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I recall the moment it became clear to me that American Christian higher education was in trouble. It was May 2008, and I was visiting the South African Theological Seminary in Rivonia, near Johannesburg. As the website puts it, the school focuses "on ...

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Bert Watson

December 03, 2013  1:40pm

Issues of context, character/spiritual formation, and cost continue to challenge traditional Western academic approaches to training for ministry. SATS offers a cost-effective, context-based approach to theological training and is committed to working as closely with the local church as possible. The seminary continues to innovate and adapt in an effort "to provide Biblical, Christocentric distance education and training to Christians, and leaders in particular, within their local church environment, to equip them to be Holy Spirit empowered members of God’s household". It would be wonderful to see American seminaries realign at least part of their program to support theological education and leader development at local church level. American examples of innovation, excellence, and cost effectiveness are Fuller's popular online, cohort-based MA in Global Leadership and The Antioch School, which enables local churches to train leaders using an accredited holistic process.

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May 23, 2013  2:16pm

Mark, thanks for highlighting the issue of the "higher education bubble" in Christian education. Massive online courses from seminaries can also bring theological education to the local congregation at much lower cost. Perhaps some may sign up for credit and give the university some revenue. Higher theological education levels at the local church level may also affect governance structures there. I personally don't see stronger links between the local congregation and the Christian university, but I could be wrong. If the Internet opens up the university, perhaps we may see more homeschooling-style family-based education in the local church. Here's one site that explores these issues and speculates on a future trajectory: messagemission dot org (

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Russell Morris

May 14, 2013  12:48pm

After earning regionally accredited BA, MA & DMin degrees here in the USA, I then earned the MTh and PhD via the South African Theological Seminary. The SATS experience was excellent.

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Brian Doyle

May 09, 2013  1:50pm

Our churches also need to think and evaluate equipping its people directly. My church is starting a partnership with Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development that sounds vary close to what is going on in South Africa.

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