Amy and I were a young married couple during my last semester of traditional seminary. During this season my professor Dr. Sam Simmons, cofounder of Rockbridge Seminary, invited me into a conversation about a new kind of educational approach to training ministers in churches. He spoke of a seminary experience that would not require pastors, ministers or church leaders to leave their ministry assignments and uproot their lives. The curriculum would be theologically solid but also carry equal weight in training the practical aspects of ministry, something seminaries are not typically known for offering. The focus would be on developing servant leaders who last in ministry by encouraging them to cultivate habits that encourage them to grow spiritually and emotionally. Intentionally focusing on the soul care needed for the difficult work and demands of ministry life.
My heart and my mind were captivated! I was hooked and ready to do seminary over again! In 2004 the dream became a reality as cofounders, Dr. Daryl Eldridge, Dr. Sam Simmons and Dr. Gary Waller, pioneers at the time in distance seminary education, launched Rockbridge’s first class. Sixteen years later we continue to fulfill our mission of developing men and women as servant leaders for Christian ministry. There are many aspects of Rockbridge that set it apart in the educational terrain, but Amy and I want to share seven distinctives that we love about our seminary.
Our foundation is unapologetically the Word of God. In a culture attempting to systematically deconstruct historical Christianity, moral absolutes, and Biblical authority and relevance, Rockbridge is committed to promotion of Biblical literacy and protection of these precious truths. We have always made it a priority to develop ministry leaders who can think biblically, theologically, and strategically.
Our students are at the center of our mission. Students are not just an enrollment number. Our administration, staff, and faculty are intentional about building personal relationships with students inside and outside the classroom. Our mission is to equip and develop servant leaders prepared for their ministry and calling. We believe a major part of this process happens through ongoing relationships and mentoring. Support and an engagement are a hallmark of student life at Rockbridge.
Our Model: Anytime, anyplace, anywhere learning. We love the freedom and flexibility our program offers. I remember well the tiring drive back and forth through LA traffic to attend seminary classes multiple times a week. The amount of time away from my family, the money and energy divested just to get to class was a major sacrifice. Rockbridge’s accessibility to anyone with a desire to acquire a seminary education, while continuing to serve God in their respective ministry and places of service has always been of a part of the dream. No longer limited by the constraints of attending a class at a specific time, or a residential requirement that could expect students to uproot their lives and disrupt their work and ministry – if you have an internet connection, you can be a student.
Our professors are practitioners. Faculty and staff understand the complexities and challenges of ministry because they are ministers. Rockbridge’s high value that our professors be serving in ministry is a distinctive that brings real world ministry into the classroom environment. Weekly class discussions are full of meaningful and practical real-time application for ministry and work contexts.
Our tuition is one of the lowest in the country. Rockbridge’s commitment to being affordable provides the opportunity for many to obtain a seminary education. Our “pay-as-go” model allows for students to pay for each class individually. Most of our students graduate without educational debt.
Our student community is diverse and from around the world. The opportunity to be in class with men and women, missionaries and pastors, bivocational ministry leaders, business professionals, and teachers from around the globe provides a unique opportunity to develop a first-hand global perspective of what God is doing in our world.
Our curriculum is thoughtfully designed for the online environment and today’s ministry context. Rockbridge’s accredited degree programs emphasize local church ministry, theological practice, strategic application, and biblical competencies in ministry. Our goal is to prepare you for a lifetime of serving in the Kingdom. Over 97% of our students love their Rockbridge experience and 100% would recommend us to anyone considering pursuing seminary education.
We know attending seminary is a major life decision. Helping and supporting our student’s choice to pursue God’s call and purpose in ministry is our passion. These seven distinctives are just some of the many reasons we love Rockbridge, our students, faculty and staff.
Be sure to watch Heath Tucker’s testimony about his experience at Rockbridge.