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Practical Ministry Training

Would you want a surgeon who got an A+ on all of his exams, but had never performed one operation? Fortunately, students in medical schools learn techniques through simulations, by dissecting animals, working alongside skilled doctors, and spending years of practice under the watchful eyes of experts before they are board certified surgeons.

The same is true for ministry. You don’t learn evangelism simply by reading a book.   You learn how to witness by sharing your faith. Becoming good at preaching and teaching requires years of experience. You’d don’t learn how to pray by reading, but by praying.

This is not a new educational concept. James said it this way, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22. We learn best by doing.

That is why at Rockbridge students are required to be in a leadership role in a church or ministry organization where they can practice the leadership skills we teach. Each class contains practical ministry projects they can use immediately in their ministry. Here are a few projects they develop and apply in their ministry:

  • Conducting a spiritual census of your neighborhood
  • Developing a disciple-making system in your church
  • Assessing the evangelism strategy in your church
  • Evaluating the assimilation process in your church
  • Writing and delivering a sermon or Bible teaching lesson

Students are guided by the teaching professor and a local mentor, ensuring that what they produce is relevant and applicable in their ministry context. If you know of someone that could benefit from this kind of hands-on-experiential learning, direct them to or direct them to our website.  We would be honored to show them how they and their ministry could benefit from our training.

A Call to Irrelevance

Some churches cannot compete with the glamour and the extensive variety of programs of the large church across town, but they can be an authentic community of believers who offer nothing but broken, vulnerable lives that are being radically changed by Jesus Christ.  To read more on this…

Graduation, June 25, 2018, 7:00 p.m.

Saddleback Church, The Terrace View Room, Lake Forest, California. If you are in the area, we would love for you to be part of the celebration.

Church Partnerships

We are grateful for over 400 churches and ministries that support Rockbridge.  Thank you for your financial gifts, prayer support, and trusting us with students. Encourage your church to financially support our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry around the globe. If you would like to be a partner, click this link.

Seminary Update

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David Zink Receives Graduate Award from BACE

David Zink, 2015 Master of Divinity graduate, received the Graduate Award in Christian Education from the Baptist Association of Christian Education. The award was presented at their annual meeting on April 14.  The award is given to a graduating student who has been involved in a local church and serving in the area of Christian Educational ministry.  Zink lives in Missouri and serves as the Campus Life Supervisor for the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.  Before this appointment he served as Chaplain Mercy Hospital and Youth Pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church, in Springfield, MO.

Graduation Celebration – June 3, Frisco, Texas

Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, TX, is the site of this year’s graduation ceremonies. In addition to commemorating the accomplishments of our graduates, the school will also celebrate accreditation and the build-out of the institution.  Four international students are in the 2015-16 graduating class.  The celebration begins at 7:00 p.m. at 8055 Independence Parkway, Frisco, TX 75035. A reception will follow.  All graduates, board members, donors, and friends of the institution are invited to attend.

Thank you for your Gifts!

Our seminary programs are thousands of dollars  less expensive than other seminaries. This is only possible through the generous contributions of friends and alumni. No gift is too small to make a difference. Click here to give online or you can mail a check to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65804.






Renewal of Accreditation

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) renewed the accreditation of Rockbridge through 2021. Founded in 1926, DEAC is the premier accrediting agency for online education. DEAC initially received federal recognition in 1959 and has continually held recognition by the U.S. Department of Education ever since. Federal recognition aims to ensure that accreditors meet expectations for institutional and program participation in federal activities, such as federal financial aid programs. DEAC is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Reaccreditation takes place every 5 years.

Final Approval Step for Doctor of Ministry Program

The Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership program received final approval from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.  The Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership (DMin) is a professional doctorate designed for men and women who hold the M.Div. or its educational equivalent and who have engaged in substantial ministry leadership. Students develop transformational leadership competencies in areas such as spirituality, spiritual community, transformational discipleship, organizational leadership, and missional leadership.

Click here for more information on this program.

New Website

Please check out the redesign of our public website

You Are Welcome at Rockbridge Online Theological Seminary

Article by Dr. Sam Simmons

At Rockbridge Seminary, you are a valued member of the learning community. In every class, you and other students are invited to participate in a learning journey that welcomes participation. As a result, learning community conversations become important opportunities for students and professors to celebrate the wonder of God’s Kingdom. The old way of talking heads, lectures, note-taking, and class conversations dominated by the few is replaced by a learning community in which every participant, professor and student, makes a significant contribution.

What unique, Kingdom perspectives do you bring to the learning community conversation? Here are three perspectives you share.

  1. Your Cultural Perspective — One advantage of Rockbridge Seminary’s online programs is that students enroll without the geographical boundaries limiting traditional programs. Imagine joining a class with students, as an example, based in China, Taiwan, Romania, and Kenya. Their cultural perspectives are fresh, authentic, and current. Just as your learning is enhanced by their unique cultural perspectives within classroom discussions and projects, so also they benefit from your participation. Each class becomes a reminder that the citizens of God’s Kingdom are marvelously diverse.
  2. Your Ministry Perspective — Imagine discussing church ministry strategy, issues, and challenges with fellow students who struggle in ways similar to you. Different ministry contexts stimulate different ideas, approaches, and solutions. Discussions are relevant, helpful, and supportive. Your ministry context gives you important perspective to share, just as the perspectives of your fellow students help you.
  3. Your Theological Perspective — The Truth of Scripture is expressed and applied within the Evangelical faith community in wonderfully diverse ways. In a seminary class of around 10 students, you become part of a journey seeking to know more of God and how to please Him. Class discussions are faith-building. Ideas are presented and challenged. Growth emerges out of the age-old process of “iron sharpening iron.” The theological perspectives shaped into your life become part of this amazing work of learning in community.

Are you looking for a seminary that values you and the perspectives God is building into your life? Consider enrolling in one of Rockbridge Seminary’s online programs. The learning community you join will enrich you while you enrich others.

Sam Simmons

Dr. Sam Simmons is Chief Learning Officer and Professor of Global Studies for Rockbridge Seminary, an accredited fully online seminary. Before helping launch Rockbridge Seminary in 2004, he directed the Southern California Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Sam lives part of the year in Bali, Indonesia, providing community service through English tutoring and coaching.





3 Ways to Determine if an Online Seminary is Right for You

Select your course for the upcoming termWith many seminaries now offering online courses, what should a prospective student look for in an online program? What makes a great online experience? Let’s assume you have researched various institutions concerning their theological positions, tuition, curriculum, and faculty. You’ve also determined that either an online seminary or a residential seminary will meet your learning goals. If all of those factors are equal, how do you determine if an online seminary is right for you? Here are 3 questions to help you make that decision:

  1. How do you best learn? Do you enjoy listening to lectures, discussing theological concepts with friends, reading, or applying what you learn in a local church setting? Do you learn best in a social setting or by yourself? Are you well organized and self-motivated? Some students need the structure of going to a physical classroom 2-3 times a week. They enjoy listening to lectures, taking tests, and writing academic papers. Others prefer to work at their own pace and set their own schedule. Others discover they learn best by having opportunities to practice principles learned in class. Online programs provide a great opportunity for students to stay engaged in their ministry make immediate application to their ministry. Research the online seminary and ask for a study guide and evaluate what types of activities are involved in courses and if it is suited for you.
  2. Do You Enjoy Interaction? In a residential setting, particularly if the classes are large, interaction between the professor and students, and among other students is limited. In an online course, students are expected to log in 3-4 times a week and engage their classmates and professor in meaning conversations. If you enjoy writing your thoughts and dialoging with friends through email, you will do well in an online program. At Rockbridge Seminary, classes are limited to 15 persons so students get personal interaction with colleagues from around the world.
  3. What technological and academic support is provided? Both residential and online programs require technology. Research the requirements of the school for Internet access, software, and browsers. Are you expected to purchase Bible software, and does the school have preferences of Bible software?

If you have trouble who is there to support you? It’s good idea to talk to a current student to see what support they have needed and how quickly faculty, administration, and tech support responded to their cry for help. Rockbridge requires faculty and staff to respond to inquiries within 24 hours of the inquiry, and typically response within 12 hours. (Faculty and staff do have to sleep.) In student surveys that assess the quality of teaching and learning at Rockbridge support that 82% agree or strongly agree that the course professor was responsive and helpful whenever they requested assistance and 15% indicated they did not require assistance. When students are asked, “When I requested registration assistance or academic advice, the seminary was responsive and helpful,” 52% indicated they had not needed assistance and 48% said they agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.

The best online programs provide learning environments that are simple to navigate. At Rockbridge, every class has the same structure, so students don’t have to figure out how each class is designed. We have students from around the world. Most of our students have been out of an academic setting for 20+ years and are nervous about entering the rigor of seminary studies. They have concerns about technology and the online classroom. Ninety-nine percent of students indicated, “The online classroom was easy for me to use.”

There are many things to consider when determining the next steps in your ministry training. Is an online seminary right for you?

About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge has served as Dean at one of the largest residential theological seminaries, served on staff at several churches helping to develop the ministry skills of leaders, taught in blended programs, and is now the president of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.




Fear Not

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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11, KJV)

Since the heinous terroristic violence in San Bernardino, politicians, pundits, and the media have played to the public’s fears. If the goal of terrorists is to spread fear and panic, the news would certainly indicate they accomplished their goal. While such tragic events are impossible to understand, every generation has experienced the cruel work of depraved men and women. The time of the birth of Jesus was no exception. When Herod the Great heard that a child king had been born among the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all children under the age of two who lived in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The wise men warned Joseph and Mary, who immediately took their newborn and fled to Egypt. Yes, they too were refugees.

In my sacred imagination, I think of shepherds living during the time of Jesus’ birth as being pretty tough hombres. They dealt with attacks of wild animals on their flocks, bands of thieves, and the harsh elements. Armed with only knives, slingshots, and staffs, they courageously defended themselves and their way of life. While they didn’t have a No Fear logo on their tunics, these men were not easily frightened. This is why the announcement of the angel to the shepherds revealed the awesome power and majesty of God. On this special night, away from the safety of their village, the shepherds were confronted with a sight unlike any they had ever seen. These normally fearless men were terrified. The unknown, uncertainty, and things beyond our control can create fear.

After the recent massacre in California, a dear pastor friend had a member ask him, “What are we going to do if a terrorist comes into our church and blows it up?” Pastor Randy replied, “We’re going to Glory!” He later said, “I’m still trying to see the downside of that.” I agree with Pastor Randy when he added, “I’m sick and tired of everybody running scared.” Christians have nothing to fear. In the midst of persecution, Paul reminded the early band of Christians, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7)

This Christmas season, let us tune out the messages of fear. Some politicians breed fear because they want you to think they are the answer to our problems. They portray themselves as knights on white horses. Our hope is not in our government, 401k’s, bank accounts, the military, or public officials. Our hope is not in Wall Street, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or a wall along our border. Our hope is in Christ the Lord! Don’t allow fear to paralyze you from experiencing the power and love of God.

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support in 2015. During this season and these unsettling times, may the words of the angel give you hope and courage. May you and your family experience true peace that comes from God through Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!



International Student Scholarship

Dear Friends,

One of our desires is to train more international students who cannot afford a seminary degree. In this effort we are establishing an International Scholarship Fund. There are 3 ways you could help us:

  1. Contribute to the International Scholarship Fund. Any amount, small or large, is greatly appreciated.
  1. Email 10 of your family and friends and encourage them to give to the scholarship. Here is a sample of how that email might look:

As you may know, I am a supporter of Rockbridge Seminary. This year they are establishing an International Scholarship Fund and this project will have a big impact on training international pastors and leaders.

I am supporting this initiative and wondering if you would consider joining me? What better investment could there be than to develop and train Kingdom leaders? Here is a convenient link if God prompts you to give:

  1. Use your social media to share about this International Scholarship Fund.

Thank you in advance for helping us fulfill our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry. We are so blessed with Alumni who are impacting the world for Christ.

Have a blest Christmas season,

6 Easy Steps to Getting Your Masters of Divinity Online, by Linda McGee-Graber


  1. Flexibility: An online Master of Divinity program allows a student to fit course work into an already full daily schedule. Selecting online courses give students the opportunity to plan their study time around the rest of their day, instead of trying to balance their normal daily schedule to accommodate study time. The flexibility of attending class online works with the student’s schedule so as never to miss a family activity or ministry commitment.
  1. Anywhere study: One of benefits of online study is that a student does not have to get dressed up. Women can attend class without make-up or making certain they are having a good hair day. No one cares if you stay in your pajamas while in the online classroom. You do not have to fight rush hour traffic, commute to campus, locate a parking place, and rush from class to class. Weather is not a factor with online study, never a need to worry about the heat, rain, or snow causing you to be late to class. Choices of location where a student studies is endless; world-wide study from various countries, lake settings, sitting by a warm fireplace in the mountains, in a swing on the porch, relaxing at the beach, or even while soaking in a bathtub.
  1. Anytime study and Self-paced learning: Most online classrooms are available 24/7, thus making the classroom experience adjustable to the student’s schedule. Anytime study, works for the student who delights in rising early to attend class, prefers going to class during lunchtime breaks, or desires to attend class late in the evening. The opportunity at working at your own pace can provide a more effective learning method for independent learners. Self-paced learning puts the student in charge of when and how much to study for each course.
  1. Accelerated courses and classroom interactions: Many online programs do one course at a time over a shorter time span with intense learning experiences. A student can download all the course work and begin completing as many assignments as time will permit before the due date to upload into the classroom to their professor. Interaction with classmates in a classroom forum can be a positive learning experience. Generally there is more interaction in an online classroom than in a traditional classroom. Sometime online interaction is less threatening for the quieter more reserved student who will seldom participate in a traditional classroom.
  1. Affordability: Online learning does not have the cost of maintenance expenses of brick and mortar campuses. Online program many times provide a more affordable option than traditional seminaries. Many textbooks are now available on electronic reading devices lessening the cost of textbooks. Kindle provides a free application that will download onto a computer. There are no costs for commuting to campus or additional required campus expenses.
  1. Linda Graber, Admissions CoachSession options: Many online programs provide various sessions or terms during the year instead of taking courses by semester sessions. The session options works for the student who needs to take a term or session off for family, ministry commitments, or financial reasons.

About the Writer: Linda Graber has served as the Director of Alumni Relations and Ministry Partnerships for Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary since 2013. She is 2008 graduate of Rockbridge Seminary having earned her Master’s in Ministry Leadership. Linda is also a Life Purpose Coach/Instructor with Life Purpose Coaching Centers International.

Doctor of Ministry Degree (DMin) from Rockbridge Online, by Rev. Fr. John F. Reutemann III

As an active duty Air Force chaplain who is constantly on the move, online learning is the only possibility for me to continue my education. Having earned both my Bachelor and Master of Divinity degrees at traditional, in-residence seminaries, I have an appreciation for that type of learning, and have to admit that I was definitely more than a little skeptical at the idea of pursuing my doctorate online, even if it were the only way to continue my education. Thankfully, Rockbridge Seminary has taken every care to ensure that its degree programs are not just accredited, but indeed just as rigorous as any in-residence seminary. Its DMin degree program consists of three years of course work, and then allows up to three additional years to complete the dissertation. Having already completed almost half of the course work, I have come to believe wholeheartedly in Rockbridge’s mission and am deeply indebted for the opportunity it has afforded someone like me who needs the type of flexibility that only online learning can provide.

As I write this, I am in the middle of a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia and am currently sitting on an airplane flying somewhere over Iraq, having spent the day travelling to and ministering at small bases that only ever see a chaplain once every few weeks. Even with the harshness of a deployed environment, I have been able to keep up with my cohort since all I need is Internet and telephone access to participate in the online discussions and weekly teleconferences. Negotiating the time differences among my eleven other cohort members (who are scattered all over the world) for our teleconferences has been the only difficulty, but even this was easily overcome through a willingness on the part of all to find a time that worked for everyone. To that last point, I must also say something about the sense of community and closeness that Rockbridge has fostered among cohort members. Keeping cohorts relatively small is certainly one part of this, but so too is its focus on prayer and the importance of building relationships among ourselves. Our online forum is not just a place where we login a few times each week to make the required number of posts, but has become a place where we can share our joys and struggles, and ask for each other’s prayers.

One last advantage of Rockbridge’s DMin degree program is that it requires each student to be currently engaged in some type of ministry and to maintain a weekly conversation with a local mentor.   In this way, what we learn in this program can be immediately applied and then brought back to the cohort to be shared and critiqued. I know that not all DMin programs require this type of concurrent ministry that, I believe, enables students to get the most out of the learning experience as possible. As a Catholic priest, I value the opportunity to receive feedback from my Protestant brothers and sisters in ministry, knowing that their different backgrounds enable them to notice and suggest things that I might miss were I left to just my own experience and that of my fellow Catholics. Humbly, I would like to think that the reverse is true too!

Overall, I have become a big believer in Rockbridge Seminary’s mission and method, and I pray that others may come to find it as helpful and challenging as I have.

About the Writer. Rev. Fr. John F. Reutemann, III is an ordained Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC and on loan to the Military Services, assigned as chaplain at Maimstrom AFB, Great Falls, MT.


Matt Harm @ the SHOP

matt harm photoCurrent Residence: Port St. Lucie, FL

Current Ministry: Stuart House of Prayer (SHOP)

Program: Diploma in Ministry Studies

What led you to Rockbridge? I was in my prayer closet and God prompted me to go to seminary. I started to research schools that offered online courses and came across Rockbridge. I received confirmation about attending Rockbridge and enrolled.

What is your current ministry? I am in charge of all ministry and outreaches at the SHOP. I run our main service on Tuesday nights, preaching and ministering over those that attend. I am currently placing others in charge of different ministries that we are offering at the SHOP, such as street evangelism, prayer, and worship nights.

What is your perspective of online education?
Online education is amazing. It is such a blessing not having to go to a classroom. Being able to take my class with me when I travel and not have to make my schedule around going to a classroom made my learning experience so much easier and attainable. I have taken residential courses and I can honestly say there is no advantage of a classroom setting. The learning experience at Rockbridge is top notch.

What dream/vision are you pursuing?
I am continuing to pursue building the ministry I helped start 3 1/2 years ago. I believe that it is going to make a lasting impact, for Jesus, on the treasure coast community. I also am pursuing preaching the Gospel in foreign countries. I am an evangelist at heart and I started preaching the message of salvation in the local jails. This has been a vision to go to other countries and preach Gospel crusades. I also have started to be a part of itinerate ministry and preaching at other churches and ministries. This is a goal and vision of mine to continue to do this as God opens doors.

How has the learning experience at Rockbridge changed your life?
It has changed my life in such a positive way. I have become so much more rounded as a result of this educational process, which I do not believe is complete yet. It has helped me understand in depth the processes it takes to build a church that will make a real impact for Jesus. There are so many different details that go into ministry. Through the professors, classmates, and textbooks I have been able to grow a tremendous amount in wisdom and knowledge. I will be forever thankful to Rockbridge and every person that is a part of the learning and growth I attained through my DMS degree.

Why You Should Consider Rockbridge



A Different Kind of School

by Rhonda Kitchen, DMin

Developing servant leaders is a chief goal of Rockbridge Seminary. This cannot be achieved in the vacuum of a learning environment that focuses only on knowledge acquisition. Rockbridge degree programs are practical, relational, and relevant.

Students at Rockbridge will learn the skills of five areas of ministry competencies through online learning modules and textbooks as well as through one-on-one contact with a qualified mentor who will help them apply their learning in practical everyday ministry settings. The competencies are focused on developing the practical ministry skills of Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Evangelism.

Another practical aspect of Rockbridge is that students are able to work in their local ministry setting while completing their degree, rather than having to relocate to attend seminary. This provides the ideal setting for a student to practically apply their learning.

At first glance one might ask how can an online seminary be relational. The Rockbridge learning environment is like being a part of a family. As students interact, tight friendships are developed as students work through the assignments together and respond to practical questions on the discussion forums. These interactions allow students to grow, through feedback and encouragement, and many of these friendships continue past the classroom experience.

Professors at Rockbridge are every day practitioners of ministry, who understand the changing nuances of being in ministry. What may have worked well a few years ago, may not work today. Having a professor who has a grasp on the changing climate in the US and around the world is one of the premier benefits of attending Rockbridge Seminary. The course content is also focused on utilizing texts and materials that are current and applicable in today’s world. Many of the resources utilized in Rockbridge courses are cutting edge concepts for ministry. They challenge students to go to the next level not only in their capabilities but also in what God wants to accomplish in and through them.

God has a purpose for each of us. A willingness to be used and a willingness to grow are two of the necessary steps toward preparing yourself to be used effectively for Kingdom work. At Rockbridge you will receive an education that will prepare you to make a difference for the cause of Christ.

About the Writer: Rhonda Kitchen has an MACE and DMin from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and a MS in Counseling from California Baptist University. She writes small group curriculum and is an expert in missionary education in the area of security. She has taught at Rockbridge Seminary since 2007. Her courses include Recovery Ministry, Personal Counseling Skills, and the Theology and Practice of Ministry.