Beeson School of Practical Theology
The School of Practical Theology equips students for ministries of Christian discipleship (including youth and campus ministries), leadership, counseling, pastoral care, preaching and worship. Students, as servant-leaders, learn to ground their ministry practices on biblical and theological principles, to gain wisdom from history, and access insights from the human sciences. This takes place in a supportive community of learners and through hands-on experience in the real world of ministry.
The School of Practical Theology houses eight specialized Master of Arts degrees:
- Master of Arts in Christian Education
- Master of Arts in Aging and Spirituality
- Master of Arts in Christian Leadership
- Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling
- Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling
- Master of Arts in Youth Ministry
Four departments and one program make up the School of Practical Theology: the departments of Christian Leadership, Christian Education/Youth Ministry/Aging and Spirituality, Counseling and Pastoral Care, Preaching, Worship and Music, and the Mentored Ministry program. These departments serve students in the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts programs.
The Department of Christian Leadership is committed to the development of servant leaders for the Church and other organizations. Leadership courses equip students to understand organizations and also the basic disciplines for personal Christian leadership development. They assist students as they grow in their abilities to lead organizations, to guide them in the process of change, and to develop other servant leaders.
The Department of Christian Education/Youth Ministry/Aging and Spirituality focuses on the Christian discipleship of children, youth and adults. Courses are designed to help students grow in their understanding of human development, learning and spiritual formation across the life span. Students also develop skills in designing incarnational models for ministries of discipleship and grow in their commitment to servant leadership that equips and empowers others in ministry.
The Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care serves two main purposes. First, it provides for Master of Divinity students’ courses designed to form their identity as pastoral care-givers and to foster the skills necessary for effective pastoral care. Second, it serves students in the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling, Mental Health Counseling and Pastoral Counseling programs. Ultimately, the department aims to produce competent professional and pastoral counselors who are grounded biblically and theologically and who are able to integrate this data with sound psychological method.
The Department of Preaching, Worship and Music seeks to facilitate a critical understanding of and competency in preaching as witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ revealed in the entire canon of Scripture, rightly interpreted, and as both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a human vocation that serves the creation of the Church, a community called to worship the triune God.
Such preaching is founded upon the Scriptures and is offered typically in the context of worship that is itself enhanced and shaped by the proclamation. Attention is given also to the broad issues of communication of the Christian message, with a view that students will cultivate necessary habits of Christian life and speech in light of the Christian rhetorical tradition, classic rhetoric and contemporary communication studies that will equip them for Christian ministry in a multicultural society.
The disciplines of worship and church music apply classical, historical and systematic studies to the life of the Church. Biblical and theological insights are brought to bear on the elements of prayer, function and meaning of corporate worship and music for the whole congregation. The focus of worship courses rests in showing the power and purpose of worship with a view to leadership, and the focus of music courses is to identify music as integral to the totality of Christian ministry, exploring history, contemporary expressions and theory.
The Mentored Ministry program provides an action/reflection approach to learning and leads students in the integration of the practice of ministry with theological and theoretical understandings from other courses. Through mentored ministry students learn vocational tasks in a church or other ministry setting as they do ministry and receive instructive feedback from a mentor. This experiential learning is combined with self reflection and theological integration in a group of peers and with a faculty guide. Theologically grounded personal and vocational formation are the goals of mentored ministry.