SEU Launching Family Ministry Graduate Degree
Most of us agree with the phrase “family is important.” However, what does that mean in our current world? Those who work with children, youth and families understand how the complexities of the present day (especially in comparison to those of years past) can make ministry challenging.
“Today’s churches and parachurch organizations include families that are facing increasingly diverse, and often difficult situations,” said Dr. Chris Corbett, professor of religion at Southeastern University.
Dr. Corbett chairs the School of Ministry & Missions within the Barnett College of Ministry & Theology at SEU. She has developed a new degree for the college, the Master of Arts in Family Ministry, which launches in the fall of 2018.
The landscape of family life is constantly evolving, most notably in the way that work, school and the community are increasingly intersecting with home life. Between the growing challenges in the religious climate of our society, the fairly recent proliferation of social media, and the concerns introduced by the use of smartphones (especially by teens and children), even the most experienced minister may wonder how to best navigate this ever-changing territory.
The new master’s degree in Family Ministry will equip pastors and church or parachurch leaders to come alongside families as they progress through every phase of life and handle the complexities of our culture.
“The importance of knowing how to minister to the entire family unit can’t be understated. From single parents, to couples who are struggling, to teens with questions about purity, to children who are dealing with the loss of a loved one … the issues themselves aren’t new,” said Dr. Corbett. “However, ministers must be ready to not only support the members of their churches, but to be able to serve them using relevant, current knowledge of the real dynamics that families are experiencing today.”
Dr. Corbett explained that this necessary knowledge is why, when it came time to develop this new degree, she knew that it was important that children and teens would not be the only focus, as is the case in many other university models. By expanding the focus of this master’s degree to include the entire family, students will learn how to pastor couples, young adults, teens, children and multiple types of family dynamics.
Classes for the master’s in Family Ministry are designed to help students develop or enhance biblically- and theologically-grounded family ministries within the local church and/or parachurch organizations. While learning from our experienced faculty, students will also have the opportunity to discuss and explore cultural trends.
Corbett, who has focused her career in the field of ministry for children, youth and families, is excited about the depth of the course content. The classes have been formatted to give students time to really delve into relevant topics by using case studies, role playing and deeper conversations that are fueled by the real-world experiences of the graduate students.
While most of these courses are available online, five of the courses have been specifically designed to be presented in one-week intensives on SEU’s Lakeland campus. These courses are spaced so that only four trips to the campus will be necessary during the two-year program span, making it manageable for the busy schedules of working adults while still giving the in-person interactions that are so beneficial for this field of study.
Like all graduate programs within the Barnett College, the master’s degree in Family Ministry was created to give students an opportunity to immediately connect course assignments with their ministry context. Students will work with faculty to design projects, create strategies, write papers and more, all while focusing on topics relevant to their ministry.
“This degree will challenge our students and assist them in taking their ministry to the next level,” said Corbett. “They will have the opportunity to develop lifelong relationships with others who share their passion for family ministry, giving them their own extended family to rely on as they work to shine Christ’s light to others.”